Gender Unbent

In the old days, when my practice supported my expensive teaching habit, I often stayed at people’s houses; nowadays it is mainly hotels – good, bad, and mostly numbingly indifferent.  So it was a welcome surprise to be placed for a night in a family with children – Douglas was 7, Laura about 6, each with a friend staying over.  They turned to about 6 am, which is my time of day, so I joined them in the long living room of this loft overlooking Boston, sliding along the light wood floor.  I didn’t meet the dad, who was out of town, but I am sure from visiting with their mom that gender stereotypes are the farthest thing from her mind.

Nevertheless, the boys pummeled me tirelessly with light sabers from the back room to the spiral staircase up onto the roof, while the girls helped their mum with make pancakes.  After breakfast, the boys retired to a Wii Star Wars game (where all the familiar characters were expressed as Lego people.  Star Wars as Lego in a video? What’s up with that?) where they chopped, blasted and leapt their way through (to me) incomprehensible and inane levels of adventure, their thumbs active on the controls but their bodies draped listlessly over the broad couch.

By the time I can come out of the shower, the girls had taken over the Wii controls, and were busy refashioning Barbie like ‘princesses’ with new clothes, make up, and skin tones.  It was all such a reprise of 1950’s gender roles with a 21st century interface, I didn’t quite know what to make of it, except plus ça change, plus c’est le meme chose.


One Response to “Gender Unbent”

  1. Doreen Hing Says:

    LOL, I do believe you got pummeled by one of the girls with a baseball bat & I was thankful that you could take their mind off the computer games for a while.
    The girls did want to play Pinata, Pinata, which is actually a non gender game, of learning how to nurture gardens, feed, plant and watch out for disease spreaders, but we’d lost the CD…
    What mattered to me, was that when I called everyone for breakfast, the game went relatively swiftly on pause, they all sat, ate & chatted round the breakfast table, took their plates away, with little hollering, begging or my worst modern day parenting tool, ‘negotiating’ for my part…

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