Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Teaching is fun

The thing that I get most pleasure from in parenting is teaching Elli about tricky things.  Rolling around on the floor playing games is fine and all but what I look forward to the most is discussions with her as a teenager where I will be able to push her thinking outward and upward.  (Cue a boatload of people saying "She won't ever listen to you ever when she is a teen!")  Recently we had a long talk while walking to a friend's house on the topic of how clothes and gender intersect.

Of course she was aware that men wearing feminine clothing are treated drastically differently than women wearing masculine clothing are.  Wendy can wear jeans and a tshirt all day every day and nobody blinks but I show up in a kilt and get stared at.  In a more extreme case Wendy could wear a fancy suit and get a few looks but me showing up in a pink dress with makeup on would get a *slightly* more extreme reaction.  However, knowing a thing intuitively isn't the same as having it laid out before you and needing to acknowledge that feminine presentation is not accepted in the same way that masculine presentation is.

We also talked some about androgyny, which was a new word for Elli.  Maybe it was even a new concept, I couldn't quite be sure about that.  At any rate she quickly caught on that androgyny tends to look a lot closer to masculine presentation than feminine and even mentioned a particular person she knows that dresses that way.  These sorts of concepts are big and take a lot of time to unpack when talking to an eight year old but she seemed to get it pretty fast.  It is challenging sometimes to find the correct line between telling her "You are oppressed and the world hates you." and "Everything is shiny and rainbows and you can do anything."  The world is pretty sexist but I don't want her to feel depressed about everything because despite that sexism the world is also full of wonder and joy.

Then she told me a story.  It started out with a group of people in which one member, a man, showed up to a meeting wearing lipstick.  The leader of the group then made a rule that any men wearing lipstick would get kicked out of the group.  Then the rest of the group got together in secret and decided that they would all wear lipstick to the next meeting regardless of gender.  I don't know that she knows the word solidarity but she sure gets the concept, and that story made me very proud indeed.

She is already getting set to stick it to the man at age eight.  Now I really want to see what comes next!

1 comment:

  1. Well, you just missed it this year but, considering her story, it might be fun to talk to her about "Day of Pink". I think that the wearing pink part would also be an easy sell.
    This is a thing that we do every year in highschools and I always tell kids who participate that I'm proud of them for getting involved with it.