Tag Archives: Gender

Raising Children With A Sex Not A Gender

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’m raising my children to know their sex, not their gender.

To explain I’ll describe what I mean by each.  Their sex is what they are.  The girls have vaginas and XX chromosomes, the boy has a penis and XY chromosomes.  Obviously there are other physiological differences but that’s the basics.

Gender is something else.  Gender is what each sex is “supposed” to be interested in, “supposed” to like, think and feel.  It’s the boys like pirates, girls like princesses, and boys like football, girls like ballet, school of thought.

So, how do I raise them with one not the other?  And why?

They need to know their sex.  There are medical issues that could come into play for one thing; they need to know their body parts in order to describe any pain or discomfort.  They need to understand the changes that they’re going to experience on their bodies, things that will happen to them because of their sex.

Whilst I definitely believe we all need to know the physiology of the opposite sex, when it’s going to happen to your own body what you learn needs to be more intense.  I’ll be teaching the girls about periods; how to use tampons or pads, what pain relief works best.  I’ll be teaching the girls about yeast infections and what to look out for, what treatment to use.  The boy needs to learn about erections and testicular pain, about his voice dropping.  These are basic simple biological differences that will manifest as they grow and experience life.

But gender is unnecessary.  And in some cases it is harmful.

There’s a flow chart floating around social media that is spectacular at explaining why children do not need gender.

IS IT OPERATED WITH GENITALS?

/                                   \

YES                                             NO

/                                                              \

THIS ISN’T FOR CHILDREN                      YOUR CHILD CAN PLAY WITH IT

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series. Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Cheryl Holt

Nothing that children play with, watch or wear is restricted to their sex.  Absolutely nothing.  There is absolutely no reason boys can’t play with My Little Ponies, Barbies or hair dressing sets.  There is absolutely no reason girls can’t play with dinosaurs, trucks and footballs.  And when we teach them that it’s not the case problems happen.

I recently had a conversation with someone one Twitter who’s raising her little boy as female now.  I assume that doesn’t include learning about the medical reasons he needs to know about his body, I don’t suppose she’ll be teaching him about period cramps and how to get blood stains out of knickers.  She’s raising him as socially female.

She tweeted that every birthday and Christmas he asked for dolls, and every year he cried when he was bought trucks.  I asked why she couldn’t just let him play with dolls?  Why not let the kid have what he wanted?  She said because he was teased for it, made fun of, laughed at for liking girl’s toys.

She taught him that the bullies were right.  She taught him that the bullies were right and he was wrong.  That something is wrong with him.  She changed him, not the bullies.

He is now on a path.  He’s being raised as a girl now.  He’s on a path that leads children into puberty blockers, a life time of medication, hormone therapy and, if he chooses to go down that path, surgery.  Or if he’s like high profile trans child Jazz Jennings who went on puberty blockers, he’ll find that his development is so damaged that not only is he unsuitable for surgery, but he’ll also not develop fully and he’ll grow older with an infant’s penis on an adult body, with nothing anybody can do to help.

Because he wanted a Barbie.

With other parents that could be my children.  Miss Rose is not a traditionally feminine girl in a lot of ways.  She likes her hair short, she loves football.  She plays with bricks and cars and super heroes.  With different parents she could easily have been taught that they are boys toys, that there’s something wrong with her wanting those things.  The more traditionally “girly” things she enjoys could have been hyped up, she could have been forced to grow her hair long and wear frilly pink dresses.  She’d be uncomfortable, she’d feel she was wrong.  She’d be told that only girls like these, only boys like those.  But she likes those.  You can see how their little brains make that leap without any slight concept of what they’re getting into.

Gender stereotypes being imposed on children starts them on their journey to adulthood in a way that is just not healthy.  Fifty years ago that meant little girls grew up to be housewives.  They were forced to play with make up sets, ironing boards, and dolls being groomed for a life of servitude, beauty and motherhood.  Little boys were forced to play with weapons, cars and blocks, preparing them for a life of adventure, money making and dominance.

Photo credit KlimKin

We started to leave that behind.  Movements like Let Toys Be Toys highlighted that any child can play with any toy.  We’re becoming accepting of little girls who like adventure and little boys who like domesticity.  We’re moving towards embracing both facets of our personalities, little girls like Miss Rose loving toy cars and My Little Ponies without any concept that she could be wrong in doing so.

But the more tolerant we become of celebrating differences, the more intolerant we become of those who are different.

Now it’s more tolerant to believe a little boy who likes Barbie is really a girl.  It’s more tolerant to think a little girl who likes her hair short and doesn’t wear pink is really a boy.

Gender stereotyping is getting a resurgence in popularity but under a new name, and instead of those who are against gender stereotyping being the progressives, it’s those who will strictly conform to it to the point of medicating their children who are applauded.

My children will be raised to know their sex.  To know their bodies, to understand what they do and how they work, how they’ll change and what to do to be healthy.  They’ll be taught to love their bodies, respect their bodies, nurture their bodies.

My children will not be taught their gender.  They’ll never hear from us “that’s a girl’s toy” or “only boy’s wear that”, and if they hear it from others they’ll swiftly be reassured that it’s nonsense, that they’re perfect they way they are.  If they’re teased for their differences I’ll never side with their bullies.  Ever.

Femininity and masculinity are both fine.  Women and men are both fine.  Girls and boys are both fine.  It’s okay to be anywhere on the feminine to masculine scale regardless of what sex you were born.

I’m raising my children to know their sex, but not give a flying f*ck about their gender.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Advertisements

Why Gender Stereotyping Kids Matters

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I had an argument on Twitter today.  It was over a new advert for Smyth’s toy shop.  In the advert a little boy is shown playing with toys from various scenarios, including one where he’s in a princess dress.

To me, and many others, this was an awesome step.  The little boy wasn’t shown to be a freak or wrong or weird, he simply played with a racing car, a suit of armour, and a princess dress in an advert that made playing with toys of all kinds completely normal.  I approve whole heartedly.

Others disagreed, many quite strongly and with venom (one so full of hatred that he called my children bastards).

I’m going to look at some of those arguments against that advert, and why I am so very much in favour of this advert and others like it, and why exactly gender stereotyping children matters so very much.

Can you believe women in the Middle East think they’re oppressed? Try dealing with stereotypes… That’s real oppression.”

This is an argument I have seen time and time again when any western woman discusses an issue.  Others have it worse.

There is no doubt that in comparison to issues such as FGM and the oppressive patriarchy of places such as Saudi are far more damaging and oppressive than the gender stereotypes in children’s toys.  Nobody denies that.  But one issue being worse doesn’t mean another is suddenly irrelevant.

Gender norms are oppressive to both men and women, teaching us that something is fundamentally “wrong” wish us if we don’t naturally conform.  Little boys who like to wear princess dresses are either forced out of it  and made to feel like they’re doing something wrong, or told they’re like little girls, instead of just being okay with the fact that sometimes they wear princess dresses.  Little girls are taught they should be princesses and girly girls instead of being able to have adventures and do brave things, thus continuing the social structure that keeps women down.

 

yeah, this is pretty gay.”

Where do I start?  Firstly, using “gay” as an insult is horrible, it implies there is something wrong with being homosexual, but there isn’t.  Secondly, the little boy’s sexuality is irrelevant to the advert and, quite frankly, I’d suggest it is inappropriate to think about.  Thirdly, a child playing with toys across the gender stereotyping spectrum means nothing about their future sexuality.  It is exactly this kind of nonsense that is why making it socially acceptable for children to play with everything is so important.

Stereotypes aren’t oppressing anyone. Cut the victim complex”

Gender stereotyping oppresses anyone who doesn’t naturally conform to the stereotype.  You either have to fit in or fuck off.  Learn to fake your identity because the person you are is wrong, or live as an outsider, isolated from the community you exist in.

Gender stereotypes breed toxic masculinity and oppressive femininity.  And nobody benefits from either of those.  It starts when they’re little.  When girls wear pink and boys wear blue.  When girls play with kitchens and Barbies, and boys play with rockets and cars.  These are the things you like.  Home and clothes for little girls, adventures for little boys.

It’s not a victim complex, it’s a social awareness.  It’s saying that no it’s not the biggest issue in the world but it is an issue.  It leads to self doubt, self loathing and identity confusion.  It leads little boys to think they must really be girls because they like dolls, and little girls to think they must really be boys because they like trains.

Gender stereotyping is toxic.  And we imprint it on our children when they’re too  young to be socially aware enough to fight it, and teach them that if they don’t fit in there’s something wrong with them and they need to be changed some how.

When we accept that toys are toys and clothes are clothes, and we don’t force boys to shop in the girls section and girls to shop in the boys section, thus labelling themselves as different ad weird, and just allow everyone to play with and wear everything they feel happy with then we will put an end to it.

Unless it is controlled by your genitals, it has no need for a gender specific label.  And nothing designed for children should be controlled by your genitals.

When it’s impacting children it’s easy to dismiss it as a serious issue, easy to tell people to focus on something else.  But follow the trail.   Watch the children forced into gender roles, or forced to believe they’re faulty.  See the trail of destruction through into adulthood and then decide whether it’s an issue worth addressing.

We’re making huge progress in equality, huge progress in social acceptance.  Don’t derail it now.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and The Boy (Jonathan McKinney) and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Didn’t You Know All Dinosaurs Were Boys?

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

The issue of gender labeling on toys and clothes has recently been quite prominent in the media. After Target decided to get rid of their “boys” and “girls” section, many celebrated, whilst others hit the roof.

The complaints were made because of the following reasons:

a) They won’t know where to shop.

b) It’s politically correct pandering.

c) Girls and boys like different things.

Here’s the deal… my daughter loves dinosaurs. She loves football, cars, super heroes, sharks and planes. She has no interest in Barbie, or Princess Elsa, but she does like tea sets and fluffy animals.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series. Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Cheryl Holt

My step son loves Princess Elsa, baby dolls, fairy wands and princess dresses. He also loves Thomas the Tank Engine, super heroes, cars and guns.

Neither has attributed any of their interests to a specific gender because, despite the beliefs of many, you don’t need specific genitals to play with any kind of child’s toy. That belief comes with adulthood, as children you’re totally unaware.

This morning I went online to buy Miss Rose some dinosaur socks. She’s growing, she needs new socks, and dinosaurs were the request.

Boys Dinosaur Socks. Every. Single. Shop. For socks! In what world are socks sex specific!?

Her Liverpool football shirt was “boys football shirt”. Her various Star Wars, DC and Marvel themed clothes are “boys t-shirts” etc. She has “boys dinosaur toys” and “boys Spiderman dolls” and numerous cars and trains from “boys toys” sections of toy shops. It’s not the fact I can’t buy her what she likes because it has a “boys” label on it, it’s the fact that claiming only boys like dinosaurs and only girls like dolls is downright offensive. And ridiculous. And one day, not yet, but one day my kids will start seeing the labels and could believe something is wrong with them and start to conform, or they’ll believe something is wrong with them for liking things they’re “not supposed” to like.  And that is tragic.

So here’s the deal:

a) You shop wherever your kids find things they like to wear or play with. Not where the pink or blue labels tell you they “should” go.

b) Sometimes being politically correct means not being an utter douche. And that’s okay.

c) Girls and boys like different things because we TELL them they do. If girls like dolls that’s great. If girls like trains that’s great too. If boys like Spiderman that’s cool. If boys like Elsa that’s cool too. Some naturally conform to society’s standards, others don’t, and others blur between the two based on purely what they enjoy and nothing else.

J.J. Barnes, The Rose And Mum And More Blog, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Startup Stock Photos

The more my little girl develops and expresses herself, the more annoying I find this. She has no gender issues and confidently tells the many people who mistake her for a boy that “I not boy. I girl. I Rosie.” The gender confusion comes from the people who think that because she’s a girl she’s somehow wrong for not wanting to play with the “girls” toys or wear the “girls” clothes.

To those people I say this: YOU ARE MISSING OUT. You are missing out on letting your children develop into the people they want to be because you’re so scared that they will be different that you try and force them to be something they’re not. You are damaging your children. And that breaks both my heart and theirs.

Let toys be toys. Let children be children. And get over it. Not all dinosaurs were boys.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Girl’s Toys Vs Boy’s Toys

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I will start this by stating something I believe to be very important:

Femininity does not equal weakness.

When it comes to the subject of gender stereotyping I think sometimes this very important statement is missed. The image is put out there by those who are against gender stereotyping toys and clothes that girls playing with traditionally girly things is bad, but girls playing with trucks, cars and blocks is good.

If a little girl wants to play with a baby doll that’s a good thing. Baby dolls teach our children to nurture and treat small humans gently and with care. Learning to be caring and gentle with a doll suggests the child will grow to be a caring and loving parent, and we know the world needs more of those.

If a little girl is told she has to play with a baby doll because she’s a girl that’s a bad thing. Having a womb does not mean you have to grow a baby in it. Being capable of being a mother does not mean you have to be maternal. Playing with dolls will not mean you will definitely be a good mother. If a little girl has no interest in baby dolls it doesn’t mean she will be a bad mother.

If a little boy is told he can’t play with a baby doll because he’s a boy, that’s a bad thing. Boys grow into men, and men become fathers. Fathers need to be just as emotionally connected to their children, just as gentle and loving, and if a little boy wants to treat a doll in that way that is something which should be encouraged. Loving, gentle and caring fathers should be developed from a young age.

If a little girl wants to play with Lego that’s a good thing. Lego is great. It encourages creativity, develops fine motor skills, and is super fun for parents too. Pink Lego’s are ace too. I’m a lover of all colours so pink Legos, green Legos, orange Legos… they’re all equally awesome. Whatever colours she wants to use or not use, great.

Photo credit KlimKin

Photo credit KlimKin

If a little girl is told she has to play with pink Lego, that’s bad. The marketting of pink Lego as girl’s toys, including little shops and hair salons (because girls can shop and get their hair done… boys can fly space ships be pirates…) is quite frankly offensive. Bring in new colours all you want, I happen to like pink, but bring it out as just Lego not “girl’s Lego”. It’s all girl’s Lego. Having a vagina does not mean you’re only allowed to use things in the colour pink!

If a little boy is told he can’t play with pink Lego that’s bad. Pink is a colour. It is of equal value to all other colours. If he wants to have a hair salon Lego set, let him. Boy’s get their hair done too. It all fits together the same way, develops motor skills and imagination in the same way. It’s just Lego and it is available in all the colours of the rainbow. Go, build, play.

Girls can drive cars, so they can play with cars. Boys can cook food, so they can play with kitchens. Girls can become engineers, so they can play with blocks. Boys can have pets, so they can play with fluffy kitten toys.

Photo credit Cheryl Holt

Photo credit Cheryl Holt

There is nothing weak about being a woman, therefore there is nothing weak about dressing like one or being interested in feminine things. Whether you are born with a vagina or a penis it is irrelevent because there are no children’s toys that require the use of your genitals to operate them.

Miss Rose loves pink. She loves tutus and sparkles and pretty shoes. Her favourite toys are a robot, her trains, her cars and her blocks. She will dress like a fairy and then crash trains into one another. She will ask to wear make up then shoot at me with her Spiderman gun.

It is adults who impose “gender norms”, “gender stereotypes”, on children. When left to their own devices some will conform, others won’t, but either way they’re expressing their own individual identity and own interests. What gets in the way of that is adults in shops lining blue toys up under a “Boy’s Toys” banner, and pink toys up under a “Girl’s Toys” banner, and parents going along with that kind of idiocy and taking their children down the aisles according to those rules.

Stop it. Kids are kids. Toys are toys. Their genitals should not effect what they can and can’t play with.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Think Pink?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Miss Rose is often mistaken for a boy. Personally I think she is incredibly feminine and beautiful looking, but I also sometimes call her Winston Churchill so I can’t really blame people for the error. That said, how it comes about sometimes intrigues me.

The first time I introduced her to my uncle, her great uncle, he said “Oh I thought you were having a girl?” I said, “She is a girl”He said, “But she’s wearing blue” I said, “It doesn’t mean she’s grown a penis”

The blue in question was a powder blue suit with white polka dots and ruffles on the bum. He was so sure that I wouldn’t have dressed her in blue that he assumed I’d got the sex of my child wrong. Indeed whenever she is dressed in any colour other than pink I get comments of “What a beautiful little boy” or “How old is he?” I don’t mind saying “Thank you, but she’s a beautiful little girl” or “She is 9 weeks”, but I do find it a little odd.

I don’t only dress her in girly clothes, and she wears blues, browns, reds, greens, greys etc. But so do I. I get a lot of her clothes, second hand from charity shops and often buy things obviously originally designed for boys, but they’re lovely clothes and look nice on her so why shouldn’t she wear them? I love the colour pink, I’m wearing a nice pink knitted cardigan right now, but I also love other colours and if I wear lots of colours shouldn’t Rose be able to as well? Are we so sure that boys wear blue and girls wear pink that there is no possibility for cross over?

I don’t get offended when people get her sex wrong, they are often very apologetic and it’s not exactly an insult, but it does make me wonder. I don’t believe in any way that pink is an evil colour like some do, that it programmes girls to only want to be a princess and takes away all ambition, but I do worry that it creates limitations if you will only focus on the traditionally girly things in life, there’s so much more out there for us, both men and women.

I say this as a girl who grew up loving pink, had barbies, and did ballet, and is currently a stay at home mum and housewife. But I also climbed trees, learned karate, and was a beast at the scalextrics, and being at home with my child is my choice which I have been fortunate enough to make having experienced both working away from home and being here with her. We need balance, and we need choice as women, and those choices need to be respected.

Lego have recently been criticised for releasing a range of Lego bricks in shades of pinks, but I would have loved those, I’d have used them with the other colour Lego. I loved my Lego and I will be buying Miss Rose Lego, both in “boy” colours and the new “girl” colours. Balance. Acceptance that girls can play with boy stuff without being “manly” but that also playing with girl stuff doesn’t make them simpering little princesses with no futures beyond marrying for money.

Whilst I believe the colour pink does not create a world where girls cannot be ambitious and cannot achieve, I do wonder if perhaps the attitudes of others do? If this day and age where equality is supposedly here, then why should dressing my daughter in any colour other than pink make her a boy? Do adult women only wear pink? If you saw a woman walking down the street in blue jeans and a grey t-shirt and a red sweater would you think “Oh that’s a feminine looking man?”

My thoughts on this are that we should all, men and women, be able to cross into one another’s worlds from a young age, to experience masculine and feminine activities, and find our place through that experience. Do not restrict boys to just boy activities, and do not restrict girls in the same way. We are fortunate enough to now live in a world where for the most part men and women are able to do what is right for them regardless of whether it’s traditional, but surely acceptance of this new balance starts from childhood, and we are doing our children a disservice if we don’t allow them to experience as much as the world as they want to because of their sex. If your son wants to do ballet that’s wonderful, and if your daughter wants to climb a tree and pelt apples at her baby brother (eh hem) then celebrate it. Or maybe not celebrate, maybe remove said daughter from tree and discipline her, but celebrate the fact she likes to do more than sing to bluebirds whilst sweeping the floor.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work.  There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and The Boy (Jonathan McKinney) and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters.  If you want to subscribe on Patreon,  its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week,  you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!