Oooops – gender stereotyping alert!

20151231_120846Nothing like getting out on a decent day and sawing up the branches I’ve acquired on my walks through the trees.

It engages me with something basic that modern life removes me from. I like foraging for free fuel and sawing it up for the open fire. Wood being less pollutive than coal or the oil of the central heating.

The physicality of it, the accomplishment of it out in the elements, the contact with the outside, replenishes the wellbeing in ways other perhaps more sophisticated or sedentary pursuits do not.

I admit, I only do the small bits. Charles gets the chainsaw out for the big chunks (could be more pollutive, I know). But he likes his machines and the sounds of satisfying revving, where I like the silence.

I think it might be a man thing. Or is that just a gender stereotypical thing to say?

It put me in mind of our philosophy group’s last discussion which was a bit of a surprise. The chair posed a question as a warm up which was about gender: ‘say something positive about the opposite sex’ he posed!

Dumb silence ensued. Just a bit significant I thought!

Then, one by one, the males piped up and said nice things, but the females seemed at a bit of a loss. Which I also thought was significant. I couldn’t tell whether this was because they couldn’t actually think of anything or they thought the question a bit inane.

Finally, one woman said; ‘Well, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say here but one thing I’ve noticed is that they’re good at sawing wood’.

A giggle passed round the group. This was the last thing anyone was expecting. Yet I thought it summarised it quite nicely. We appreciate the physicality of men, providing a nice strong comforting arm.

Yet equally a female offers a strong comforting arm, don’t they?

This came back to me as I was sawing. That, and how difficult it is not to gender stereotype as I’ve done here, and more particularly as parents.

These days the traditional male and female roles (as we saw them) overlap, both the physical and the comforting, the providing and the caring. And I believe we all need elements of all in our lives whatever gender we are. We need to be self observational and mindful in order to fulfil our own basic needs and those of others, and physical, emotional, cerebral, strong, sensitive, whatever’s required – whatever gender.

And make sure the kids get a demonstration of that; the choice of playing any role that suits.

And how ironic that I should be thinking all this when this news item reports a call for more female role models across the curriculum. Curriculum, politics, manual or academic, both women and men need to be there to balance the skills, strengths and sensitivities each can bring.

It’s SO important that no one is denied opportunities because of gender stereotyping or traditional roles, and we as parents don’t inadvertently impose either on our boys or girls; just value each for who they are.

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6 thoughts on “Oooops – gender stereotyping alert!

  1. What upsets me is how in the rush to not gender stereotype society tends to push men away from being strong “manly” types and women away from being “motherly” types even when a person truly wishes to fit the stereotype. As much as it is ok to be a sensitive man who does yoga as a hobby it is also ok to be a fireman that builds engines in his spare time. For women it is just as ok to be a CEO as it is to be a stay at home mother.

  2. I have a regret. I was very disdainful of my older daughter’s love of girly things like Barbie & My Little Pony. That was wrong. It was what she liked and enjoyed playing with. I had bought into the anti pink thing and the loser was my daughter. Fundamentally I rejected who she was, a girly girl who loved makeup and Barbies.

    • Thanks so much for your honest comment – I know what you mean as I had a girlie girl, which I wasn’t, and had to go with the make-up and Barbie thing but saw in her that it was so strong it led the way! Really appreciate you sharing here – that’s such a valid side of the issue.

  3. Great post. Love your wood sawing. I think that women are men are really very alike and yet at times really very different. This in itself should be a cause for celebration – any differences in humans should be – this is the way to learn and grow.

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