When girls build the world.

  What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice And everything nice,

That's what little girls are made of.

I have been thinking about writing on the topic of little girls for a long time. What kind of world our daughters are growing up in and how we as modern women and feminists are shaping that world.

The US Elections were fascinating for me to watch. Time and time again we heard about and saw the attack on women by various members of the GOP and their ridiculously ignorant statements made about girls and women with regards to contraception, rape, even about actually being allowed to vote!  As a woman I was outraged and shocked by some of the hatred and bigotry being spewed by this political party. As a Canadian, I was ever so thankful for the country that I live in. As far from perfect as it may be, my rights as a woman over my body and my mind have never been an issue here!

Last week, this internal 'war on women' by the GOP was lost. BIG time. More women (1 in 5 actually) have seats in the US Senate than ever before and Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator in the history of the USA. Whether or not the analysts think it is true, I personally believe that American women and the men {and women} who love them sent a very clear message that this "war" will no longer be tolerated. Women want a voice in government and one that truly represents THEM, not necessarily one who thinks HE does, but really has no clue whatsoever and prefers to keep his women in a binder!

The whole idea of women gaining some ground in the Game of Life has me stoked. If you don't know yet about how the characters line up in this game, then I highly recommend that you head over to John Scalzi's post about this. Scalzi points out, in language that he hopes most dudes might understand:

"In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get."

It's kind of a interesting point of view and one that has come up more than once in the past few weeks, here and here and most recently (for me at least) again this week.

On Tuesday night on my Facebook page I posted a link to a video that I found on Upworthy that described an amazing new toy designed for girls. Have a listen to Debbie, the CEO and creator of Goldie Blox explain why she developed it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-AtZfNU3zw[/youtube]

The response to her video was incredible and Debbie reached her Kickstarter goal in just 5 days! Goldie Blox is now heading to production with delivery dates scheduled for the Spring of 2013.

The next day, when I saw some of the comments left after I posted the video with the status that,"THIS toy should be on everyone's little girl's list for Christmas next year", I was confused.

One person wrote,

"Or how about every *Childs* Christmas list? My son would adore this. Wanting this toy for girls is really no different than saying certain toys are only for boys. It's definitely a great toy, would just warm my heart if it didn't have to be so gender biased. Equality, that's the goal right?"

There were more comments with variations on the same theme.Why a toy geared only to girls? Why not in more gender neutral colors? Why is Goldie a blond, blue-eyed girl? I want this kind of toy for my son too.

I thought to myself, crap, maybe I should have typed CHILD instead of GIRL in that status. Yes, it is about equality for all. Did I miss the boat on this one?

But then I stopped and thought about it some more.

And NO.

Debbie has it right.

Did you hear what she said?

"89% of the Engineers in our world are MEN. We LITERALLY live in a world built by men."

Men who were once boys, who played with Lincoln logs, Legos, Kinex and all kinds of gender neutral or primarily boy-centric building sets and toys. If this is what you want for your son, something that he is going to build things with to his little heart's content, then there is no shortage of toys and sets and games out there for him.

Girls need more toys like this. Toys that both appeal to them visually and challenge their brains as well as the status quo of what you have to be when you grow up.  Heck, I'll even make a case for the pink Lego. My little girl was not really into Lego until her Auntie bought her a bucket of the pink stuff for Christmas last year. Now we can all sit for hours and make all kinds of things with our Lego. It is all mixed together at this point, but she needed that pink push to get interested and excited about playing with it and tapping into that creative builder part of her brain. And she still calls all the pink pieces, HER Legos.

The thing I think we all need to remember is this. We do not live in a world where "all things being equal" exists {yet}. Women and girls may be 50% of the population, but in pretty much everything else we are or have it is far from being equal. Fighting for equality for all means coming to terms with the fact that that very equality does not exist. Men and boys get the default "lowest difficulty setting" in our world and girls just don't. Women and girls have to work twice as hard to have our voices heard, our rights protected, and to even the playing field in all things economic, political and social.

So no, this toy does not need to be made in gender neutral colours so that it appeals to boys too. Those toys already exist, all you have to do is visit the Lego section at any Toys R Us to see that. Goldie Blox is a fabulous addition to the toy world that will get girls interested in building and maybe even a career in engineering. And just like Debbie, I too dream of the day when all of our children get to live in a world built by both women and men!

Happy Building Girls!

Natasha~

**This is by no means a sponsored post. All opinions here are my own and I was not compensated by the company in any way. If you are interested in purchasing a Goldie Blox for your daughter or grandaughter or niece, then head over to their website HERE to get in on the action!!**

 

 

 

The babysitter conundrum

Ah, the babysitter, that coveted being that you can trust with your kids, that will play with them, feed them, care for them, and keep them alive long enough for you to sneak in a date night here and there, or get to a spin class or do those errands that take 1.5 hours when you are alone, but at least 4 hours when the kids are with you. For some of us the babysitter is a family member. Grandma and Grandpa or the aunties and uncles. But what happens when no family is around to help out? When you live far away from your family or caring for your kids regularly is a bit much for the grandparents?

Besides our family members, my kids have had three babysitters. One is the teenage daughter of my former La Leche League leader and has known my kids since they were teeny tiny and has loved them ever since, one is a wonderful woman that I met at a Modern Mama babysitter mixer and has been our regular day-time sitter for the past 18 months and the third is a new girl that also sits for one of my best friends.

The problem is that two of them are heading back to school in the fall and our regular sitter had the nerve to go off and get married and is starting a family of her own (Sheesh!). So I am now without a regular sitter for any or all of the above reasons that I would need one!

And being as we just moved into a new neighbourhood, I have been keeping my eyes open and ears to the ground for any leads close by. It just so happens that our immediate neighbours across the alley are a lovely family with two teenage boys (14 and 16) and my first thought moving in was, "I wonder if either of them would want to babysit for us?".

I am bringing this up, because the topic of babysitters came up today with the kids while out for a family walk. Little C asked me if our new babysitter was going to be a boy. Up to now and before we moved, I had not really contemplated the idea, mainly because we did not have any boys of the babysitting age around us or available and I already had the best sitters around!

One of my kids favourite story books is a Fancy Nancy one called, "Fancy Nancy & the Sensational Babysitter".  In it Nancy is anxiously awaiting her new babysitter 'Alex' and is bitterly disappointed when HE shows up! In the end Alex turns out to be quite good at this babysitting thing and Nancy gives him a big thumbs up and hopes he comes again soon. The concept of a boy being a babysitter is not a big deal to my children.

But it seems that for others, this is not the case. Tonight just before dinner, I posed this question on both Twitter and Facebook.

"Have you or would you hire a teenage boy to babysit your kids?"

The responses have ranged from a straight up "Hell, no!" to "I have, I do and I would gladly sing his praises. He's an excellent kid and is a fabulous sitter for my 2 year old daughter!".  A few have said that they wouldn't want to 'take the risk' with a boy sitter.  Most comments say that yes, they would and that choosing a sitter is about knowing the person, regardless of gender. A lot of comments have been about fabulous memories of the boy babysitters people had as kids and the common thread is that they often tend to play more with kids than the girls do.

But the two comments that have stood out the most for me are from my friend Farren and from the husband of another friend.

Farren said, "We limit boys and men as nurturers simply by entertaining this idea. Trust people, not genders."

And Doug said, "...Boundaries are defined not only by what they contain, but by what's outside them. It's not about the teenage boy, it's about those who question the teenage boy... and why. It all comes down to individual trust, and I don't see what gender has to do with that."

While the majority of the comments have been that yes, most would or have had a boy babysitter, the ones that won't even consider it an option because of the potential risk that is perceived when a teenage boy is alone with kids and left to his own devices are the ones that are burning a hole in my gut tonight.

I can understand the need to protect our children from any and all potential harm, but what I can't understand is the blatant sexism and prejudice that exists in our world. Yes, there are bad men out there and they do some very bad things {trust me people, THIS I know}, but to paint all boys with a blatant "never gonna happen" paintbrush, just doesn't sit well with me. My 17-year old nephew is a huge kid, he is 6'2" already, has a deep man's voice and is a guy's guy. He is also the most gentle and patient kid I have ever seen. He is an amazing big brother to his 2.5 year old sister and a super fun cousin for my little ones. That someone would think that because he is a boy, this makes him any less caring or potentially more 'dangerous' than say, his 14-year old sister, makes me shake my head.

These boys are the future fathers of our world and like Farren says, why would we want to limit their potential for nurturing? Why not give them a chance to care for small people, to learn these life skills and be better MEN for it? How many of us are married to men who never spent much time with kids before they had their own? Why would we want to perpetuate this cycle?  How can we even start to contemplate a world in which we are all equal when we can't even see a teenage girl and a teenage boy as having equal merit as a babysitter?

I have a lot of questions tonight and not a lot of answers. Doug's comment has me thinking and thinking. About the boundaries that we put up around our children and ourselves. About what we are trying to contain (innocence? theirs? ours?) and what we are trying to keep out. About my own prejudices and fears and from that {not yet talked about} place from which they stem...

The reality is, that I am still in need of a few good babysitters for my roster. If the boys across the alley are game, are good kids (as I suspect they are) and have some basic babysitting skills (IE, can make a mean PB&J sandwich, know a few things about LEGO building and can muddle through a tea party), then I'm pretty sure I am too.

Wish me luck!

Natasha~

 

What about you? Would you or have you had a boy babysitter care for your kids? Why or why not?

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This is Post 25 of the 31 Days of Summer Blog Challenge

There are some good ones today from my co-bloggers, please check them out.

Zita at The Dulock Diaries.

Meaghan at MagzD Life

April at This Mom’s Got Something to Say

Aramelle at One Wheeler’s World

 Jessica at 2plus2X2

and Liam at In the Now

 

 

 

 

 

#notbuyingit-part two

I wrote a post last night about how I was upset about the gender stereotyping that occurs at stores like Gymboree and Old Navy for Halloween (and all year long really) and I made a terrible and glaringly awful mistake in that post. I forgot about the boys.

And it is because I totally got called out by this comment from reader Dave (highlighting is mine), that I am writing this now.

...gender stereotyping starts much too young and invades far too much of our society. As bad as it is for the girls who want to be an EMT or Astronaut, and it is really bad, it is even worse in the opposite direction. That’s right, if girls are highly stereotyped as ‘Pretty’, then the degree of stereotyping aimed at boys is far, FAR worse. It is so bad that it is not even recognized as stereotyping – indignation is expressed against the lack of images of girls as pirates or dragons, but no mention is ever made of the lack of boys as butterflies or flowers. The image of girls in traditional ‘boy’ roles may be having trouble breaking into the mainstream, but the image of boys in traditional ‘girl’ roles is almost universally viewed as “queer”, “gay”, or “immoral” to the point where it is never seen and virtually never mentionedI note that it is not mentioned in your own blog. If we want to see gender equality, then both sides of this inequality have to be addressed...

To be perfectly honest, I didn't quite forget about the boys, I was thinking about them the whole time I was writing the post and struggling with my own ingrained stereotypes.

Because here is the thing...

Even though Natural Urban Dad and I  have not purposely focused on anything particularly gender specific for our children, we are the parents of a superhero, dinosaur, Transformers, and Hero Factory loving boy and a puppy dogs, unicorns , Hello Kitty and fairy loving girly girl. Now that is not to say that at any given point in our house there may in fact be a tea party happening with fairies, puppies AND Transformers all enjoying a sip or two kids running around the house roaring  like the scary T-rex's that they are while wearing their baby dolls on their backs, but for all intents and purposes I am a mama to two kids who A) love each other a whole lot and B) who have pretty specific and somewhat traditional likes and dislikes.

And why wouldn't they?

I am quite the girly girl myself. I like to wear skirts and dresses and jewelry and have pretty shoes and painted toenails and all that jazz. I like to have tea parties (or coffee playdates as we mamas like to call them) and go shopping and I happen to have a love of all things fey as well.

{Case in point: My new sparkly 'Goddess' shoes!}

And Natural Urban Dad is a {ridiculously gorgeous} superhero nerd, who loves his comic books, will never wear pink (although a nice lavender is OK) and firmly believes that all of life's important lessons can be learned from the likes of Superman, Spiderman and The Avengers.

{And it is a key factor in his decorating choices as well.}

Somehow, without quite meaning to do so, not only have we have created  two incredibly lovable and beautiful little creatures, but we have also quite literally created them in our own images!

This is not a bad thing at all, it just means that I need to be a bit more honest about my own thoughts and feelings about gender inequality and stereotypes that exist in this world and in the reality that is my kids lives as well. Am I still upset about the ad images and marketing that kids stores use? YES! Absolutely. Costumes are just that, costumes. To be used to inspire imagination and role play and for kids to pretend to be anything they want to be. Be it a flower, a bug, an astronaut or a dragon. But like Dave said, until we address this from both sides of the gender coin this inequality and stereotyping will continue unchecked.

No one illustrated these points better than my dear friend Alex in this incredible post about her son and his wings! Please read it and know although I am still #notbuyingit from Gymboree, Old Navy or any of the 'girl' this and 'boy' that toys and products that companies keep shoving down our throats, I will likely have a Minnie Mouse and a Zombie on my hands come Halloween this year.

Of course, because he is my son, that zombie may in fact be a daddy zombie wearing his baby zombie in a carrier on his back.

Who knows....?

Till tomorrow,

Natasha~

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This is Day 20 of the 31 Days of the Summer Blog Challenge.

Comments and retweets and sharing makes us all feel special.

Go do some of that over at these blogs too! Thank you.

Zita at The Dulock Diaries.

Meaghan at MagzD Life

April at This Mom’s Got Something to Say

Aramelle at One Wheeler’s World

 Jessica at 2plus2X2

and Liam at In the Now