January 12, 2012

Gender Roles

On one of the forums I frequent there was some discussion on gender roles brought on by this story from Tumbler:

"Yesterday I had a pair of brothers in my store. One was maybe between 15-17. He was a wrestler at the local high school. Kind of tall, stocky and handsome. He had a younger brother, who was maybe about 10-12 years old. The only way to describe him was scrawny, neat, and very clean for a boy his age. They were talking about finding a game for the younger one, and he was absolutely insisting it be one with a female character. I don’t know how many of y’all play games, but that isn’t exactly easy. Eventually, I helped the brothers pick a game called Mirror’s Edge. The youngest was pretty excited about the game, and then he specifically asked me.. “Do you have any girl color controllers?” I directed him to the only colored controllers we have which includes pink and purple ones. He grabbed the purple one, and informed me purple was his FAVORITE.

The boys had been taking awhile, so their father eventually comes in. He see’s the game, and the controller, and starts in on the youngest about how he needs to pick something different. Something more manly. Something with guns and fighting, and certainly not a purple controller. He tries to convince him to get the new Zombie game “Dead Island.” and the little boy just stands there repeating “Dad, this is what I want, ok?” Eventually it turns into a full blown argument complete with Dad threatening to whoop his son if he doesn’t choose different items.

That’s when big brother stepped in. He said to his Dad “It’s my money, it’s my gift to him, if it’s what he wants I’m getting it for him, and if your going to hit anyone for it, it’s going to be me.” Dad just gives his oldest son a strong stern stare down, and then leaves the store. Little brother is crying quietly, I walk over and ruffle his hair (yes this happened all in front of me.) I say “I’m a girl, and I like the color blue, and I like shooting games. There’s nothing wrong with what you like. Even if it’s different than what people think you should.” I smile, he smiles back (my heart melts!) Big brother then leans down, kisses little brother on the head, and says “Don’t worry dude.” They check out and leave, and all I can think is how awesome big brother is, how sweet little brother is, and how Dad ought to be ashamed for trying to make his son any other way."

Allegedly the story is "fake" or simply some allegory, but does it matter?  I'll admit that this story touched me a bit because with some very minor details, this could be some of my family.

On a similar note, this discussion on the forums brought in this short (1:11) video.

Now this hits closer to home for a couple of reasons.  One, I used to work in the HOM department of Fred Meyer and had to work in Toys.  Two, my wife who is into princesses, is just as into heroes of all shapes, sizes, and colors (and has had the same rant as Riley for years).  Thirdly, I don't exactly fit into my the "manly" norms.  Sure, I've been in the military, love my guns/rifles/knives/beer/porn, have the first three seasons of The Man Show, but I'm also the one who does all the kitchen work.  I'm just as likely to bake a cake as I am to change the oil in the car.

My wife isn't a big "girly-girl", which I am so thankful for.  She's very feminine, but a lot of the over-the-top girly-girl crap I haven't had to suffer through.  Not once have I had to hold my wife's purse while she shops and I have never had to run to the store just to by feminine hygiene products.  She doesn't nag and bitch me to death (well, really at all) and if we see a Chick Flick it is because I'm interested in it.  I also don't have to remember the 273rd monthly anniversary of the first time we held hand or some other made-up "important" event.

I'm not a big fan of the "every child is special" entitlement that our society has been gravitating towards, but I think there is a middle ground between that level of dumbfuckery* and strict enforcement of gender roles.  I would hope that parents want their children to be respected for who they are, appreciated for their talents (their real talents), as successful in life as they can be, and.....I don't know....be happy?

*My new "special vocabulary" word, compliments of David Simmer II

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