Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gender Rolls

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:
And Eve:

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.


Kaycee said...

Interesting....Never thought about that before.

Anonymous said...

I think God made boys and he made girls. no inbetweens. Boys have distinct rolls from God, and so do girls. The world today tries to make boys girls, and girls boys and all the same. But we aren't. we are different and that is how it should be.

Natalie said...

Um yeah thanks one's trying to make anyone anything. The point was not to judge people. Next time dare to own your opinion.

Barrett said...

Even though I have pictures of Brad in fairy wings...Brad is definately a boy (taking clothes off in the closet with my girls...) I don't think playing with dolls will make boys girly and boy stuff will make girls boyish! Some people are really worried about that and I think playing with different things will make them more well rounded and understanding. Good job!

Kristina P. said...

I think that gender roles are an important part of what we believe in, but that doesn't mean that has to go into dolls or jobs or things like that.

I've never even seen Wall-E, but I always assumed he was a boy robot.

Texas Gal said...

What a wonderful post! I have never thought of it that way.. Having an only child -- and my only being a girl -- I am afraid I do impose "girly" on her. We never venture down the so-called boy aisles at the store. Maybe I need to do that! I do not buy pink things for her very often as I like bold, bright colors. She has several pink toys and lots of dolls that she has gotten as gifts. I am going to make an effort not to sway her and walk down all the aisles when we shop. Great post Nat -- makes me think!

Jatibbs said...

I never thought of that before, makes me really think about gender roles and how it affects all. You and joe make me think about things I never thought of before. Matt

Stephen and Kathy said...

I really have not looked at it that way, It is really a good positive thought thanks

Shannon said...

I agree with you on this one Natalie. I think that it's crazy that some parents are so worried that their kid isn't going to turn out "normal" to the point that they can't just let kids be curious and enjoy something just for the sake of enjoyment. Kennedy plays with trucks and balls, and she has had swordfights and pretends to blow things up every now and then. I think that it's great to help her figure out what she really wants out of life. Nice post!