In our house we don't strictly stick to traditional gender roles. We share household chores with Joe doing the majority of the cooking and a lot of the cleaning. I do all the laundry and always do the bathrooms. Joe and I have both always worked outside the home and at various times have both worked full and part time. We both try really hard to do things as a team, and for the most part it works really well.
We have also tried not to inflict a specific gender role on our kids. We don't go to great efforts to avoid them, but if Brad wants to play with a doll he can and I find myself often handing Lucy a truck or a ball because it's handy. I'll be honest that if Brad wanted to grow up to be a dancer or Lucy wanted to race cars we might flinch a little, but I like to think we would support whatever makes our children happy.
I've noticed that they seem to pick a lot of these things up anyway. On the rare occasion that I watch a tv show containing commercials with Brad (I can't STAND commercials) he will often ask me if certain toys being advertised are "for boys or girls". Usually this comes up when a particular toy looks like fun to him, but is obviously directed toward girls. I generally tell him that anyone who wanted to play with that toy could, and the discussion ends there.
The reason for this post is that we recently watched the Disney movie Wall-E with Brad. This movie has 2 main characters who are both robots. They are Wall-E:
There's very little dialogue in the first half of the movie and the only thing the robots ever really say is the other's name. The movie does not specifically define either robot as being a 'boy' or a 'girl' but to me it was obvious. I came away from watching it knowing that Eve was the girl and Wall-E was the boy. That's why I found it so very interesting when Brad kept refering to Wall-E as "she". I said, "Brad, Wall-E is a boy" and he said, "No mom, Wall-E is a girl. Eve is a boy."
When I really thought about it I couldn't put my finger on why I thought it was one way and Brad thought it was the other. Obviously Eve is a feminine name to me, but to Brad it was close enough to "Steve" to pass. Eve is new and clean, one might say more fashionable whereas Wall-E is older and dirty or tough, but to Brad those didn't lend themselves to one gender or another.
I've asked a few people who had seen the movie what they thought and have found that they all agreed with me. I also found this interesting becuase everyone I spoke with had assigned a gender to the robots although technically there's no reason to. Obviously it's something we do naturally.
I don't think I'm qualified to draw any conclusions from this. I did think it was a good reminder to look at things through a child's eyes and not to judge people (or robots) by how they look or what their name is. I don't know that it matters whether Wall-E is a boy or a girl. Wall-E is a loving character with a pure heart who gives everything when he falls in love with someone who is opposite him in many ways and therefore compliments him well.
We should all be so lucky...and I am.