7.1.10

Secular Thursday: There's A Land That I See Where The Children Are Free

I fought against red for years.

Pink, everyone knows, is just red mixed with white, and through that connection, red was irrevocably tainted in my eyes. I wasn't particularly sure if I liked blue all that well, but if it was seen as the opposite of pink, and I was supposed to like pink, well, then. Blue it was.

My first bicycle came in two colors - red and blue. I was five, and I could tell the salesperson expected me to choose red. The closest things I had to cousins growing up, EG, and now FB have all learned to ride a bicycle on my blue Schwinn.

For whatever reason, I enjoy tweaking society's gender expectations. I fall hard in the camp of nurture versus nature, though I think a good bit of the "nurture" is societal and essentially impossible to eradicate. It amuses me greatly that Smrt Mama's Captain Science has his greatest gifts with words, and EG's greatest gifts lie with math. See? They switched the traditional gender story. I derive irrational pleasure from situations such as that.

It also pleases me to no end that FB has excellent fine motor skills and enjoys the process of handwriting and forming letters, mainly because I've spent so many years reading homeschooling books and boards that insist boys "just don't write" or "can't write until they are older" or some such nonsense.

Gender roles are my primary problem with most organized religion. I grew up in a denomination that had theretofore emphasized an individual's relationship with God and an individual's interpretation of the Bible. The church I attended as a teen (still within said denomination) had a woman as the assistant pastor. Now, of course, that would be considered at best taboo. "Betrayed" is too strong of a word, but do I feel that said denomination is a different creature entirely than what I was taught? Of course.

Gender comes into play in the homeschooling world - how could it not? There's a spectrum of beliefs, but it was extremely startling to me when I realized that, yes, there were people who were giving their daughters less education than their sons, and truly felt that their daughters should not have any higher education. They were to be wives and mothers, and that, apparently, was that. Of course, there are variations that are not so extreme. However, fundamentally, I take issue with assigning pretty much any task or idea as "girls'," "boys'," men's," or "women's."

Yes, I'd like for my children to have domestic skills. I want my children to bake pies, mow lawns, and repair a hem. The key here, though, is that I want all my children to possess all of these practical skills. Not to have them possess around half, their prowess determined by their forty-sixth chromosome.

And so I keep celebrating when their interests run against what society would have them be. I make sure my son helps us in the kitchen, and that my daughter assists when it's time to clear brush in the year or wash the cars. It's my goal to raise citizens. Each should be able to say "I am a well-educated person," not "I am well-educated for a woman," or "I am a well-educated man; why should I know how to cook anything but ramen?" I don't want my daughters to think they're limited in their options, but neither do I want my son to feel that he is.

As Harry Belafonte & Marlo Thomas sang, "Mommies can be almost anything they want to be. Well, they can't be grandfathers, or daddies. ... Daddies can be almost anything they want to be. They can't be grandmas, or mommies." Not that I think my children even must have children, but you get the idea.

Parents are grown-ups, grown-ups with children... there are a lot of things that a lot of mommies and a lot of daddies and a lot of parents can do.

2 comments:

Melanie said...

I had no idea my daughter wasn't fit for higher education until I joined a homeschool support group. ;)

thisadventurelife said...

Wow - this is just... shocking to me:
"when I realized that, yes, there were people who were giving their daughters less education than their sons, and truly felt that their daughters should not have any higher education. They were to be wives and mothers, and that, apparently, was that."

I haven't run into this much at all... kinda hoping that those people stay under their rock (or that I can stay under mine?? Whichever...)
~h

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