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Monday, 7 September 2009

On Boys & Girls

Wife Swap. [didn't know how this programme is called in English, so I googled it. Funny, while in English it is wife swap, in the Hebrew version it is mother swap...]

Anyway, you know the programme? The wives/mothers of two families exchange places for about a week. First half abiding to original family's rules, second half coming up with their rules. So the other day was the first programme of the season, which was of course a big hoo-ha to draw you in. It was big in the sense that it was an Israeli family verses one from New-Jersey (not the usual two Israeli families..), but mainly in it's contents. The couple from NJ were gay and religious (which I must say growing up in an orthodox environment, in a place where religious Jewry is almost synonymous to the orthodox movement, it is kind of odd seeing a couple both gay and religious..) where as the kibbutznikim from Israel where (well she was. He was a really lovely man, so open and amazing. End was kind of sad as he wants to become more religious and took some steps while she was gone, but when she came back...) anti homosexuals (or at least those who are doing the unthinkable and raising kids..) and had a thing against religion.. (as I said, first programme of the season..). She was really a begot, saying how it's not right how there is no kind of representation of a "normal" family in the gays household (in pictures, that is), that there's no balance (of course her house in the kibbutz is full of portraits of gay families. NOT. Balance only goes one way, it seems). Funny how when it was her turn to determine the rules, she went and bought two "normal" families pictures. The first was from the Bill Cosby show. The second? Archie Banker and family from the 70s show - All in the Family! Good thing the guy she was staying with was very good natured and took it with humour..

But that was not really what I wanted to talk about. Although she did say "her husband" for the week was a terrific parent, she still couldn't overcome the fact that they are gay and thus corrupting the children. One of the boys loved playing with "girls'" toys and refused to play with things considered boys' (of course parents being gay's fault. Never mind his brother who likes playing all things "boys"..), so one of her changes was to take him to a shop and push him into buying a "correct" toy, as in toy guns and rifles and the likes. Seeing this, and before even touching on the issue of boy's/girl's toys, I said to myself I would never participate in such a programme (not that I would participate in any other T.V show..). One thing is to set rules like not enough pictures of straight families in your house, or should work more in the garden etc. Another thing is to go against my (and I emphysis my, don't know or care for that matter what was the father's stance) principle, and war games (such as toy guns and rifles) are of limits for me. I heard enough how boys need (but girls don't??) to take out aggression and all. Plenty of ways to do so.. [and I am strong on my principles]. That was the point that said to me - OMG, never.. But if I look specifically at this family, and the boy who loved playing with dolls, I think it's lovely, a boy who truly has options to choose what he wants, and goes with what his heart calls and not with what society tries to tell him is right. I've got examples from left and right in my family, where boys are taught what is right for them to play with and how they ought to behave and all. Maybe it takes a gay couple, and a religious one at that, to truly give thier child the freedom to be who he is, I mean it probably took great courage for them to not only step outside the closet, but to decide to raise a family. And if they could feel the freedom to do what their hearts desired and not be governed by society, then most likely they could pass this freedom of choice on to their kids. I do hope for a girl (completely another post. Of course I would be happy, overjoyed,delighted with a boy), but if I do have a boy, I do hope I could give him those choices and not surrender to society's demands. Give my boy and girl* dolls and footballs (or whatever) and let them make the choice, but a true choice based on having all the options in front of them.

* Somehow demands are tougher on boys. Girls can act like boys, climb trees etc etc, even have boys' names (a trend here, but one that is now starting to fade). Whereas boys have to be "boys", no playing with dolls or wearing pink shirt, and how embarrassing if a boy's name is actually a girl's..


Seed Monkey said...

My two toddlers have a dolly, and a pushchair for it to go in - I don't think it's bad for them. They also have a 'kitchen' toy which has an oven, hob, and washing machine. They love it. It doesn't bother me.

I have a collection of pink shirts for work - only my collection of blue shirts is larger.

I think perceptions and values must be different where I live!

caitsmom said...

[Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment! Glad to have found you.]

Ah, what sticks with me the most was your postscript. It's true it's more acceptable for girls to "act" like boys. I think it's also true that girls are more invisible than boys. I think the use of "guys" as a word used to refer to everyone illustrates a part of this idea. It is unacceptable to use "gals." This and buying the "right" toys suggests to me we still have plenty of work to do in recognizing our biases.

Wishing you a girl or a boy, a baby to call your own. Peace.

Billy said...

"girls are more invisible than boys" - yes, I agree. If you're talking about "guys" verses "gals", what can I say in a language where everything is either male or female, and therefore a general reference would be in the male voice..
Kind of sounds from my post that girls are much better of. On the contrary, I think girls and (more so) women are still very much discriminated against. But (or maybe because) while it's quite legitimate for girls to "be boys", the opposite is not always so.

And Seed Monkey, it is so lovely to hear about your boys having dolls and a kitchen etc (and I love that you have a collection of pink shirts for work :-)).

battynurse said...

I've seen a similar version of the show and of course they always sensationalize and pick the most opposite couples. I think it's sad that this is a form of entertainment. I too have no difficulty with boys playing with girl things etc. The kids will pick what they want to play with.

Jess said...

You are so right Billie! Good post!