Little boys

Feb. 4th, 2010 03:55 pm
scottahill: (Default)
[personal profile] scottahill
When I go with Miriam to play at the Montessori school, or at her daycare, I find myself paying extra attention to the little boys in the room. Part of the reason is that I've heard people insist that gender differences exist from this age, that boys are more this or girls are more that; as a feminist I'm somewhat doubtful of these claims, attributing most of the differences to the way the children are raised, and so I'm watching these little boys to see if they are fundamentally different from Miriam, thinking, "Miriam gets loud like that too, Miriam runs around, whatever." (Frankly, I haven't noticed any real difference.) A problem with this is that it starts to feel like I'm measuring Miriam up against the boys, which is a rather UNfeminist thing to do.

The other reason I pay attention is due to my theories about little boys, in that they are more constrained than little girls: constrained in what they wear, what they play with, who they can imitate. (As one person put it, a little girl in a Batman costume is cute; a little boy in a Wonder Woman costume is alarming.) That, combined with the fact that boys are supposed to be a little bit behind girls developmentally at this age, makes me see them as more fragile, somehow.

And so I look on these little male children almost as alien creatures, rather ironic given that I used to be one. (Ah, but I don't remember being 2 years old.)

It's a little disturbing to be so obsessed about gender in this case, when I'd much rather see young children raised in as gender-blind a manner as possible. Heck, I'm not even sure Miriam knows the difference between "boy" and "girl" yet (though she does know the words), and I've avoided the terms when it comes to adults; I'm not a "boy" but a man and Jen isn't a "girl" but a woman, and I normally refer to us and other adults as "big people": "there's a big person". I'm not insistent about it, I don't tell other people what to say, and she'll figure it all out in due time, but I'm hoping that I can delay gender awareness a little bit so that it isn't so ingrained in her thought processes. Maybe it's futile, I dunno. I think there are small biological differences which cannot (and should not?) be erased, but that doesn't mean they have to be enhanced via socialization.
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