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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in gender

Posted by on in Early Childhood

boy and girl playing together 800x400

The short answer to the question posed in the title is yes. While it may seem as though the #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements have nothing to do with young children, the experts tell us that sexism does indeed begin in early childhood. In fact, psychology professor and author of Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, Christia Spears Brown, told me in a recent interview for Studentcentricity, that sexism begins at birth! And when we consider the pink and blue phenomenon – and how differently girl babies are treated from boy babies, even prenatally – we have to admit that what she says makes sense.

Sexism begins with gender stereotyping, which is all too easy to reinforce. Christia and other experts contend that every time teachers say something like, “Good morning, boys and girls,” attention is given to gender. And the more often statements like these are made (“Boys line up here, girls line up there.” “What a good girl you’re being.”), the more children get the message that gender matters – a lot. And that’s when they start making black-and-white generalizations about the meaning of gender.

Yes, I know; statements like these seem perfectly innocent! But what if they’re not?

According to a Slate article on this topic, “The more ingrained kids’ gender stereotypes become, the more easily they conclude that girls are inferior to boys—that boys have higher status because they biologically deserve it.” Studies have also shown that “the more strongly boys believe these stereotypes, the more likely they are to make sexual comments, to tell sexual jokes in front of girls, and to grab women.”

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

teenage girls

"You've been getting messages since you were a baby. Messages about who you are and what you're good at, about how the world sees you and what you should do if you want to succeed ... They said you need to be thin and beautiful ... They warned you if you're strong, opinionated, or take control, you'll be shrill, bossy, a ballbreaker. They asked you why you can't take a joke ... Well,[ f**k] that. I'm here to tell you something else."

So begins Laura Bates' Girl Up, an unsentimental and honest follow-up to Everyday Sexism that works as an introduction to feminism and as a guidebook for young women navigating the realities of misogyny in  the digital age. Bates offers advice on a range of issues from staying safe online and understanding the differences between sex and porn, to speaking up in class and challenging authority.

Girl Up starts with an examination of sexism in social media in which Bates clarifies many double-standards with which many young women are already acquainted:

Step 1: Select your avatar

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Child Development

Traditionally, we have seen characteristic differences in the developing motor skills of boys and girls - usually evident beginning in early childhood. Boys tend to be ahead of girls in skills that emphasize power and force. By the time boys are 5, they can jump a longer distance, throw a ball farther, and run faster. Girls, on the other hand, have better fine-motor skills as well as gross motor skills involving foot movement and good balance. So, they are better at hopping, skipping, buttoning, and zipping.

Also, traditionally, young children have been guided towards different activities, as boys or girls. A good deal of boys’ play was outside, using large muscle groups - riding bikes, climbing, and running around. Boys were much more likely to be given baseballs and footballs and then more likely to have a family member play with them using this equipment. As a result, boys could throw a ball much farther than girls and were faster runners, largely due to practicing these skills. Fine motor skills were left in the dust, for the most part. Then there was the introduction of the hook and loop strips, that made shoe-tying a thing of the past, when this very activity was such a valuable one, across multiple developmental domains.

Girls have been channeled towards dramatic play, coloring, and other indoor activities. Their small motor skills benefitted from dressing dolls, using crayons, and making things. I would venture to guess that focusing on these activities was also increasing their attention spans, while boys may have been short-changed in this area. Girls also played hopscotch, jump rope, and took dance lessons- activities that improved their balance and agility.


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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Screen Shot 2016 07 06 at 10.26.03 AM

So there we were. It was Friday morning and the kick-off to 4th of July weekend. I just finished up an 8-mile run on the bridge, boardwalk, and beach and returned to the beach house. I figured I would eat something, take a quick shower, and head out for a nice beach day with my wife, son, his mom-mom, and his grandmom (great grandma). Instead, I walked into a conversation about taking our 2.5 year old son to the nearest Urgent Care. He had a fever a few days earlier, but it seemed like he recovered. Now he started developing a rash on his hands and feet. It was hurting him to walk and he was very fussy. We discussed, decided, and off to the doctor we went.

Let me start by saying that our little guy was an absolute champ waiting for over an hour in the waiting room. We finally got into a room and saw the nurse who gave us a diagnosis within 2 minutes of talking to us. Hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is a virus that includes a rash and painful blisters. The nurse told us it would clear up on its own and that we just had to wait things out. She was awesome with Landon and interacted with him in a way that was genuine and caring. She asked if he liked stickers and of course he said yes! What kid doesn't like stickers? She left us to wait for the doctor and frantically Google everything about the virus while she retrieved the goodies for Landon.

A few minutes had passed and the nurse re-entered the room with the promised treat. Landon had a choice between Mickey Mouse and Toy Story stickers. Not surprisingly, he went right for the Toy Story set. The nurse informed him that he could pick any two that he liked. His first pick was Buzz Lightyear because he's a pretty awesome spaceman. His next choice was Bo Peep, or at least that was what he wanted. He pointed at the picture with a cute doll wearing a pink dress in a bright purple background and asked for that sticker. Without flinching, the nurse immediately countered his request and asked him if he wanted Rex, the dinosaur. Landon was in a very compromising mood (blame it on not feeling well) and he took the different sticker with no issue. Mommy and Daddy, however, felt differently.

Landon's favorite color is purple with pink coming in a close second. When we went mini-golfing with him the night before, he chose a purple ball for himself. Items that are purple and pink always get top priority with him. Ask him what his favorite color is and he will tell you it is purple with a big smile on his face. If he wants something purple (or pink or any color for that matter), he can have it. It doesn't matter to us what colors he likes. He knows what he likes. So why would the nurse deny him the sticker that he really wanted?

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Posted by on in General


In the past couple of weeks, the dorkiest subsegments of the twitterverse, the blogosphere, and various other social interwebs have erupted with news of singular they. In December the Washington Post made their own headlines by adding  singular they to their style guide. Then last week, the folks at the American Dialect Society went a step further, naming singular they their word of the year. The selection was reported by the Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME, NPR, Slate, The Economist, and of course the Kilgore News Herald

If you’re saying to yourself, Wait, I coulda sworn the word of the year was b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2016-02-05-at-8.18.38-AM.png , you're not totally crazy. It seems that a number of organizations have recognized that word of the year announcements have the potential to go viral, resulting in a profusion of words of the year. But it's the ADS WOTY that goes back furthest and carries the most clout, and their selection was singular they. 

The SNOOTs Protest!

Now it might not surprise you that certain subsubsegments or the dorkiest subsegments of the Internet are none too happy with this decision; singular they has peeved language SNOOTs for pretty much ever in sentences like, I don’t know who is responsible, but they will face the consequences.Prescriptively, if you needed a generic third person singular pronoun, he was your andro-normative go-to, as in When each guest arrives, he should sign in. Everyone’s favorite prescriptivists, Strunk and White, put it thusly: “The use of he as pronoun for nouns embracing both genders is a simple, practical convention rooted in the beginnings of the English language.” Other common options were he or she and s/he but these have a certain clunkiness that kept them from catching on. Those among us who wanted to put in a good faith effort would try to mix in a generic she from time to time.

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