Irritating article in the Guardian . . .

(52 Posts)
Takver Sat 12-Jan-13 18:30:19

here. All these 'boys aren't at all like girls, they're just so different and physical etc etc' articles annoy the hell out of me. I just wonder WTAF these parents of boys think small girls actually are like.

Surely I'm not the only mother of a daughter who (a) likes dinosaurs (b) collects sticks (c) needs plenty of exercise every day otherwise causes utter havoc and (d) whittles swords for her playmobil children and dresses them in 'chainmail'. To be fair, some of these are starting to wear off now she's nearly 11 - she prefers dragons to dinosaurs, can exercise herself perfectly well, and makes bows & arrows rather than just collecting sticks.

Is it just me, or is it reasonable to think that this kind of attitude then leads on to the excuses for grown up men failing to do their fair share ('they just don't see it, they're different') and generally behaving in ways unsuitable for a civilised human being?

Takver Sat 12-Jan-13 18:35:56

I reckon her boys are going to end up like (some of) the men on this thread . . .

BeeBawBabbity Sun 13-Jan-13 09:40:17

I agree, it's annoying not because of the boys perfectly normal kid behaviour, but because of the spurious assumption that it must be because they are male. It says much more about what she thinks little girls must be like. And there's pleasure in the stereotyping that comes across too.

I'm sure it does feed into adult excuses, but it also indirectly pidgeonholes girls and women, which I find even more infuriating.

RubyrooUK Sun 13-Jan-13 11:05:46

I find this kind of thing annoying too -/ the mother of boys myself, this is why people think it's ok to say that my sensitive, lovely, affectionate and totally non-aggressive two year old boy should "man up", "take control" and "stand up for himself". You know, because then other children wouldn't take his toys or push him around. Then he wouldn't like talking or reading or being hugged, he'd like activities deemed more manly.

Plus I am my mother's exhausting, energetic, pushy, outgoing child, not my sweet natured, gentle brother. It's why everyone told her I was "too much", "too confident", "very naughty" and "didn't know how little girls should behave".

I know it is just one person giving themselves a label and then indulging in it, but personally I hate the stereotypes.

WidowWadman Sun 13-Jan-13 11:07:26

It seems that I'm a mother of boys, too, according to the stuff described in the article. Only my boys are daughters. Stupid stupid stupid claptrap.

EbbNFlow Sun 13-Jan-13 11:07:43

Its total bollocks. My boy would rather sit in front of a computer or book than go a-hunting and a-gathering, and my girl is the one who needs 'walking daily like a dog'. I abhor these lazy stereotypes.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 11:16:00

Agree with everyone. It's very irritating to stereotype children in this way. My niece LOVES dinosaurs, while ds was marginally interested at one stage but isn't particularly bothered now. He likes reading, hates ball games esp. football, likes nerf guns but also likes cooking. He is one little boy who is an individual, my niece is one little girl who is an individual.

Schooldidi Sun 13-Jan-13 11:18:16

My dd2 appears to be a boy too according to that article hmm. Children are children, some are boistrous, some are quiet, gender doesn't make that much difference about what individual children are like. The stereotypes are only noticible when adults start getting involved and pushing them on children.

qumquat Sun 13-Jan-13 12:12:47

Omg takver, that thread has just sent my blood pressure through the roof! Another similar thing driving me nuts currently: a yogurt advert saying "we all want to be grown up like mummy, and strong like daddy"

Takver Sun 13-Jan-13 12:20:18

"He is one little boy who is an individual, my niece is one little girl who is an individual." That's exactly it.

I do feel sorry for parents of boys (as per the other thread on here) who know that their sons are people with differing personalities, various likes and dislikes, yet the wider world tries to put them into this 'box' of suitable male pursuits.

Its funny, I suspect that the author of that article would be horrified if she were automatically expected to be a cake-baking-pinny-wearing-knitting-hoovering-washing-1950s mother whilst her DH went to the football, had a few pints at the pub then came home & put his feet up expecting his tea. Yet she's happy to push her children straight back into those stereotypes.

Takver Sun 13-Jan-13 12:21:07

sorry qumquat - take a few deep breaths and stay safely here in Feminism grin

ithaka Sun 13-Jan-13 12:25:36

Wow - it turns out one of my daughters is a boy - who knew?

Sexist drivel like that article is all too prevalent, sadly, and limits life experiences for boys and girls.

grimbletart Sun 13-Jan-13 13:31:18

I was a boy too, as were both my daughters according to our characters and attitudes grin.

I got told off on another thread (apparently I'm a misogynist - not bad for someone who has been a feminist for 65 years) for calling a woman stupid because of her sexist attitude.

So here I go again - that writer is stupid.

ArtexMonkey Sun 13-Jan-13 13:36:31

Oh the guardian family section is constantly full of irritating wankery. All the articles are desperately looking for an angle, otherwise it's just boring people guffing on about their lives isn't it? We only read it to take the piss now.

KerryKetosis Sun 13-Jan-13 13:38:44

this shit fucks me right off.

As the owner of two boys and a baby girl <expert face> I know for a fact that yes, some boys are perfectly able to sit still and concentrate, thank you very much etc.

And the different way people talk about the baby girl. Big strong boy, lovely little girl etc. and all the pink crap she gets given. their roles are decided for them from the womb.

Actually I have a massive chip on my shoulder about this one grin

StephaniePowers Sun 13-Jan-13 13:42:01

That was one of the most cloying, twee, and ever so slightly pathetic things I have read about parenting.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 14:04:11

It's particularly irritating because it's the Guardian, who you would like to think would give a toss about feminism and equality.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 14:06:00

and I really hate the shit some people talk about how schools are horrible to boys because they expect children to sit down and concentrate. How come boys did perfectly well in the 50s and 60s, then, when classrooms were MUCH stricter? (Actually part of that is that the scores were fiddled - girls had to reach a higher mark in the 11+ than boys, because there were fewer places at girls' grammars. But still, plenty of boys did very well indeed.)

KerryKetosis Sun 13-Jan-13 14:08:09

<reads article>


BettySuarez Sun 13-Jan-13 14:11:39

I just knew that you would be talking about this.

DH and I sat and read it together over our pub lunch yesterday and laughed at the smugness of it all grin

LurcioLovesFrankie Sun 13-Jan-13 14:30:46

"It's particularly irritating because it's the Guardian, who you would like to think would give a toss about feminism and equality. "

Actually, pinko lefty that I am, I've had to stop reading the Guardian, because like much of the left, it has real feet of clay when it comes to feminism. The final straw for me was a series of articles on "women can't have it all, has traditional feminism sold them short by suggesting they could?", none of which paused to ask the basic question "why do we never see articles like this about men?"

But on the plus side I'm just back from a lovely trip out with my neighbour - her DD and my DS romped around in the mud, climbing on an old disused tractor and jumping in puddles, and sword fighting, and both ended up liberally coated with mud. I like to think that this should be a normal part of childhood.

StephaniePowers Sun 13-Jan-13 15:34:13

I think it's inevitable that is is in the Guardian because that's the demographic of a lot of their staff, though their reader profile is more varied. (Perhaps becoming less so?)

I also have a child who is energetic, always on the go while awake, needs loads of physical activity. He happens to be a boy. At the great age of three weeks old in the neonatal unit, when he was as usual attempting to climb the walls of his incubator, a nurse said fondly, "boys will be boys!"
"Hmm," I replied, "so what would you have said to me, since he has inherited his incapacity to be still from me and not from his dad?"
The only response was a blank look. But honestly, gender stereotyping a 3lb, minus-5-week-old baby??!

And I agree about the Guardian having feet of clay. Has anyone seen the forums online? The nastiest things get posted about women, but if anyone protests, the moderators accuse the protestor of being unable to engage in proper debate - although the same things posted about other demographics are deleted in an instant.

Trills Sun 13-Jan-13 16:00:29

If they said "not all children want to sit still, having lots of energy and wanting to be active can sometimes be mistaken for naughtiness, here's how to deal with it" then that could be an interesting and informative article.

But it wouldn't be an article that would get published.

LadyMargolotta Sun 13-Jan-13 16:04:02

I had been trying so hard not to click on that article, even the photo and headline are smug.

perceptionreality Sun 13-Jan-13 16:06:14

Yep, unashamed stereotyping. I'm surprised at The Guardian really.

MummyPigsFatTummy Mon 14-Jan-13 10:48:38

Oh I read that article - what a pile of smug drivel. I hate all that "boys are like dogs" schtick too which is so popular. So patronising to boys.

My DD and her friend spent yesterday afternoon chasing each other round my friend's house waving plastic spatulas (interlinking rooms and loads of space - DD was in heaven). They also sat down for a bit and played with playdough like "proper little girls". This "boys are like this and girls are like that" stuff is all rubbish. They are all children and sometimes they run around madly and sometimes they don't.

I wish these stupid journalists would stop pigeonholing everyone! I am nothing like "most women" either (apparently) and get fed up reading about what I should and shouldn't think about things, but it is far worse with children.

Lottapianos Mon 14-Jan-13 10:58:03

'and I really hate the shit some people talk about how schools are horrible to boys because they expect children to sit down and concentrate.'

Yes to this - a colleague of mine (we work with under 5s) has said that schools teach in a way that 'favours girls'. Chrissake!

This stereotyping drives me up the wall too. And it is so so prevalent, I hear it all the time at work. Just the other day, a mum of a 3 year old girl who was jumping around said to her 'will you sit down - you're not a boy you know!' sad And the mum of a 2 year old boy who loves to help her with the cleaning said that all her family and friends warn her that she's going to 'turn him gay' sad

Are people really so unimaginative? Or just thick prejudiced?

JacqueslePeacock Mon 14-Jan-13 11:53:43

God yes, isn't it awful? It even has the "boys are like dogs" thing in, which I thought was a parody of this kind of thinking.

AmandaPayne Mon 14-Jan-13 12:32:39

God, this article gives me the rage. The woman in question is, of course, promoting a book. There is a similar article in the Times.

It is such bullshit. I have, apparently, given birth to two boys. Although their genitals would strongly suggest otherwise. Toddlers are obsessed by sticks, not boys. I had to stop DD1 (3.5) bringing home half a soggy tree this morning.

I also cannot stand the smug insistence from this type of mother that it must all be innate because of how her boys have turned out. The conditioning is there in almost every line of her article. So whilst I haven't ruled out biological differences in the sexes, I'll not be accepting your anecdotes as evidence, ta very much.

I do sometimes say the 'children are like dogs' thing though, in the context of finding mine need outside time each day if at all possible blush. Children though, not boys.

JacqueslePeacock Mon 14-Jan-13 12:35:21

Children are like dogs, fine. Boys are like dogs, not fine. grin

And this writer doesn't even have any girls, does she? So what is she comparing her "dog-like" boys with, exactly, in order to pick up on all of these subtle differences?

Yes, i am getting the RAGE too.

AmandaPayne Mon 14-Jan-13 12:41:50

What with that and the serialisation of the new Biddulph book on raising girls, I am a total ball of feminist RAGE this week grin

ArtexMonkey Mon 14-Jan-13 12:55:31

Did you see the Shaun Ryder article in the same bit? He's a great dad apparently, because he can sit and watch kids' tv all day grin

This shit is just another form of trolling. On the one hand there's the oh so middle class tales of ruddy, muddy, stick wielding children having Famous Fivetastic fun, then there's a bloke whose parenting yardstick is how much cbeebies he can stand. But he's a working class hero, so it dunt matter. hmm

AmandaPayne Mon 14-Jan-13 14:55:18

Oh my god. MN are having Biddulph on for a webchat. Anyone want to think of some good questions for him?

StephaniePowers Mon 14-Jan-13 15:41:06

I actually think a more powerful message would be for nobody to ask him anything at all, whatsoever. There will be no criticism of him allowed anyway, if we express any doubt we will all have to go away and 'deal'.

AmandaPayne Mon 14-Jan-13 15:44:46

Is that what he says? I've never read his books as I have girls. And I'm damn well not reading the new one after my feminist awakenings.

Sadly I'm not sure outside the feminist boards people would go with your strategy, although I like it grin. Maybe I should just avoid, avoid.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 14-Jan-13 15:55:38

I didn't dare to read it, in case I get in a rage. grin People are so unimaginative. And do they get paid for things like this!?

JacqueslePeacock Mon 14-Jan-13 16:18:05

Why will Biddulph get no criticism? Previous webchatters have had buckets of criticism! I especially enjoyed Maria Miller, but let's not forget Naomi Wolf's most entertaining webchat either.

GunsAndRoses Wed 16-Jan-13 00:24:38

Read article and what a load of shite it is! FFS!

JacqueslePeacock Thu 17-Jan-13 11:59:44

Happy to report that Biddulph did get his share of criticism last night for his "boys are fundamentally different from girls" approach (as well as his bizarre approach to the webchat)!

I suspect there might actually be a quite useful idea for books on "raising boys" and "raising girls" which contain ideas on how to combat the different socially constructed gender roles which boys and girls are expected to follow - because boys and girls clearly do face different social pressures to conform to different stereotypes. Sadly that doesn't seem to have been the books Biddulph has written.

drjohnsonscat Thu 17-Jan-13 12:18:50

I posted this on another thread so very glad to see others were furious too. It was so stupid, so twee, so full of stupid non points. What does she think girl children wear when they go to a park? Wellingtons. And what does she think happens when girl children jump in the mud? Muddy wellingtons.

I have a boy and a girl and my girl is much more active than my boy. My boy is cuddly and lovely and able to sit down and concentrate for quite a long time. He is not very much like a dog (although he does like chocolate treats).

My daughter's absolutely favourite story atm is Robin Hood. She is a bit disappointed at the role Maid Marion gets in the stories (not enough archery) so she usually plays Robin and makes her younger brother be the Sheriff of Nottingham. Meanwhile my son's favourite game is to pretend to be a pussy cat, sitting on my lap, purring.

The kind of rubbish in that article gives me the absolute rage. I actually thought it said more about her than anything. She looked like the kind of woman who wanted to see herself as marooned in a sea of boys so she could laugh femininely at their boyish ways and make a big deal of being the only female.

drjohnsonscat Thu 17-Jan-13 12:20:15

oh and yes can't bear Biddulph. I think he popularised that "boys are like dogs" thing and the only thing in his book I agreed with was the revolutionary notion that boys should be cuddled. Duh.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 17-Jan-13 13:46:49

"She looked like the kind of woman who wanted to see herself as marooned in a sea of boys so she could laugh femininely at their boyish ways and make a big deal of being the only female."

Yes. Makes me feel a bit sick.

Biddulph's book is one of the very few books I simply had to get rid of because it was so annoying.

Oh yes, I really get pissed off with Biddulph. Want to ask him when I should start looking out for the criminal tendencies in my son as I will be going back to work...

StephaniePowers Fri 18-Jan-13 14:48:40

I didnt say he wouldn't get criticism, just that he wouldn't allow it (ie take it on board) but haven't read the chat and am v v pleased if he got a pasting, the twunt.

JacqueslePeacock Fri 18-Jan-13 18:41:11

He DID get a pasting. And he came across very weirdly, I thought - his whole approach to the web chat was very odd. I think he tried to neutralise any criticism and it came across as quite patronising. Have a look! Not as amusing as the Oliver James web chat though!

Viviennemary Fri 18-Jan-13 18:45:40

I'm sure these articles are written just to get a reaction and get people discussing them. Not because the author really does believe what he/she has written. I wouldn't pay any attention to anything written in the Guardian.

fleacircus Fri 18-Jan-13 18:49:46

Used to take DD to an under 1s baby group. Also (shocking, I know) used to dress her in colours other than pink.

Woman at babygroup: It's amazing, isn't it, even when they're so little, the boys are so much stronger and more determined than the girls.

Me: You're looking at my daughter.

Lifeissweet Fri 18-Jan-13 18:52:35

My little 7 yr old DS is neither a boy nor a girl, apparently. He loves Spiderman and cars and climbing trees, but he also loves kittens, puppies, drawing pictures quietly, writing stories and cuddling.

He is not at all competitive - when we play games he cheers whenever anyone wins regardless of whether it's him or not. He is placid and doesn't fight back if another child snatches his toys or wrongs him in any way.

I am so proud of him, his kind and gentle nature and his active childishness.

I don't want anyone trying to change his 'girl' behaviours by labelling them 'girl' behaviours! He is deaf and manages to avoid hearing a lot of this stuff, but now he has a baby sister and he sees how she is pinked up and given dolls by everyone, he must be starting to see the stereotypes. It's so sad.

Lifeissweet Fri 18-Jan-13 18:53:46

I like your story fleacircus - perfect example. I was told off in a shop for dressing my DD 'like a boy' because she was wearing a blue coat.

drjohnsonscat Fri 18-Jan-13 19:03:12

I had almost the exact same experience with my obstetrician. I took DD for her six week checkup and she was dressed in blue. There was another baby girl there at the same time. DD was asleep and anyway was always a bit lethargic due to being 5 weeks prem. The other baby was very alert and had lots of baby tricks already. The obstetrician looked at the other baby and said to both of us mothers - "you see, baby girls are always so much more advanced than boys". So he made me paranoid that my baby had some sort of developmental delay, mistook her gender even though I paid him a lot of money to deliver her and do her six week check up, and threw in some gender stereotyping all in one go!

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