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April 16, 2009



Very interesting - my kids (boy/girl twins) are way too young for this yet but gender identity formation is something we think about a lot, as a lesbian-headed family. I'm going to forward it to my lesbian parents email list and see what others have to say - thanks!

Rosemary Riveter

I love the idea of freenacin! It's like the phlogisten that goes into handmade objects. I hope you're still writing when I end up parenting.


@mikhela, that should be interesting! HOW gender is identified and separated by kids this age is very family-and-school-peers based, in my (obviously limited) experience. Which means the first time we saw it show up, it was a freak-out by Mr G because I did some laundry. NO, MOMMY! Laundry is a BOY JOB. Girls aren't ALLOWED to do laundry! Heh. But he'd seen that in our house, daddy did the laundry, and he helped, so that was clearly a boy thing. Cooking was either. He essentially ended up defining 'boy stuff' as everything he liked (logically - I'm a boy, I like this, therefore this is boy stuff), and girl stuff as barbies and things that were pale pink or pale purple. Baby dolls, jewelry, and cool shoes all landed squarely in BOY STUFF land, for him.

Miss R has had more typically girl interests than any of the other kids, culture-wise. She's still into anything that has a ball associated, soccer, football, etc. And likes to get grubby outside. But otherwise fairly girly. Miss M, notsomuch, except she likes her nails painted and likes dancy dresses. Mr G is probably the most 'girly' in the cultural definition - way into clothes and shoes, cares about his 'look', not terribly physical (more now that he's into puberty, but doesn't know what to do with it), reads a lot, doesn't like getting dirty much, wears jewelry to school (starting in 3rd grade), loves playing dressup (in costumes I make - guy gender, but not a guy thing at 11, usually), loves silver and helps polish my mom's silver for setting the table, etc. And yet, those are all genderless activities. Our culture is kinda stupid.

He still tried to insist that girls couldn't be doctors (because ours happens to be male) and girls couldn't play soccer (because at school his girl friends didn't play it), and so forth. Just until he was about 5 3/4 years old, thankfully. Then it eased up, and he stopped clinging so hard to the idea of gender being defined in double-wide sharpie.


@rosemary, phlogisten must be one of those things that activates a more potent form of freenacin, too! Cool! That explains a lot... :)


Oh, and there's this post that also talks about the whole gender-and-hormones thing... http://hedra.typepad.com/hands_full_of_rocks/2008/06/hormones.html


hedra, Miss M & R are so in step with my daughter (5 1/2yo)! From figuring out the gender stuff to loving the ESCALATORS and the TRAINS way more than the actual attractions when we go to Washington. For some reason I keep thinking you're in New England and I keep forgetting you're in the mid Atlantic like we are now.

Also, yes yes to controlling the social world and everyone in it! This is a huge thing for us now, especially since we've been staying with relatives for a few months and have even less control over the home environment than usual. Hence, every shared mealtime turns into a struggle for control of the conversation, the food, the plates, the seating arrangements… Has made for a lot of tense suppers around here. And I am not handling it very well.

Love the freenacin and the phlogisten. Those are definitely going to go into our lexicon!


Phlogiston was a theoretic 'fifth element' added to the four classical Greek elements, which applied to all combustable objects. Note that it was in ADDITION to the element of fire, as some items that could burn did not meet the classic definition of 'containing an element of fire.' Basically, it's the element of combustion.

As a typical guy, I heartily approve of phlogiston as a freenacin analogue.


Gender and kids are fascinating. I love watching them.
Are you near DC? I didnt realize that, I'm right in the middle of it...no wonder your kids musuems so much!


A bit further north than that, but close enough. Loads of museums locally, though, including some interestingly unique ones; the kids' 'Baba' has memberships at many, and loves taking them on outings. End result: the kids are already more 'historically literate' than many adults.

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