What are little boys made of?
"Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"

19th century nursery rhyme

Snips and snails and puppy dogs tails... It's always seemed to me that boys were getting the raw end of the deal in this poem. But this blog isn't about what I think... It's what you think that I'm interested in. I have a series of projects I want to share with you to challenge your ideas about gender and maybe give you some food for thought... Give me your feedback, let me know what you're thinking!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

It's a right-handed world...

    "Imagine, for a moment, that we could tell at birth (or even before) whether a child was left-handed or right-handed. By convention, the parents of left-handed babies dress them in pink clothes, wrap them in pink blankets and decorate their rooms with pink hues. The left-handed baby's bottle, bibs and dummies - and later, cups, plates, utensils, lunch box and backpack - are often pink or purple with motifs such as butterflies, flowers and fairies. Parents tend to let the hair of left-handers grow long, and while it is still short in babyhood a barrette or bow (often pink) serves as a stand-in. Right-handed babies, by contrast, are never dressed in pink, nor do they have pink accessories or toys. Although blue is a popular colour for right-handed babies, as they get older any colour, excluding pink or purple, is acceptable. Clothing and other items for right-handed and children commonly portray vehicles, sporting equipment and space rockets; never butterflies, flowers or fairies. The hair of right-handers is usually kept short and is never prettified with accessories.
    Nor do parents just segregate left- and right-handers symbolically, with colour and motif, in our imaginary world. They also distinguish between them verbally. 'Come on, left-handers!' cries out the mother of the two left-handed children in the park. 'Time to go home.' Or they might say, 'Well, go and ask that right-hander if you can have a turn on the swing now.' At playgroup, children overhear comments like, 'Left-handers love drawing, don't they?', and 'Are you hoping for a right-hander this time?' to a pregnant mother. At preschool, the teacher greets them with a cheery, 'Good morning, left-handers and right-handers.' In the supermarket, a father says proudly in response to a polite enquiry, 'I've got three children altogether: one left-hander and two right-handers.'
    And finally, although left-handers and right-handers happily live together in homes and communities, children can't help but notice that elsewhere they are often physically segregated. The people who care for them - primary caregivers, child care workers and kindergarten teachers, for example - are almost all left-handed, while building sites and garbage trucks are peopled by right-handers. Public toilets, sports teams, many adult friendships and even some schools, are segregated by handedness..."

Extract from Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Check out your implicit response to gender with the Harvard IAT tests which tell you how your subconscious respond to associations between gender and career or gender and science on https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/selectatest.html

Are you as liberal as you think you are? Or is your subconscious a closeted traditionalist...?