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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Girly/Feminine Hobbies

14 replies

bucaneve · 02/01/2011 18:59

Slightly thread about a threadish as I wrote a post about this on the Scouts/Boys clubs thread which seems to have died a bit...but Anyways...

Is it just me or does anyone else find it a bit sexist when people describe any traditionally feminine activities (e.g.,arts and crafts, baking etc.) as boring and rubbish and all the more traditionally masculine ones (sport, hiking etc.)as being much more exciting.

Obviously I don't mean that most women/girls should enjoy more traditionally feminine activities, or assume that they do...

I guess what I'm trying to say is do we sort of feel like anything "manly" is better, what is wrong with people (men or women) liking traditionally girly things?

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KalokiMallow · 02/01/2011 19:04

I totally agree with you, I think in a way people miss out because of this thinking. At school, in order to combat sexism, they decided that girls had access to "masculine" lessons, eg. metalwork, and boys had access to "feminine" lessons, eg. sewing.

Which is fantastic, except you could only choose one. Hmm And this is early on at my school, and with peer pressure being the way it is, "masculine" lessons were oversubscribed, and you would have been a laughing stock for doing anything seen as "girlie".

Which is a shame.
a) because why should work that has been done by women in the past be seen as lesser?
b) it means that due to this odd misconception, many people missed out on some pretty essential life skills. Let's face it, what skills do you use more, cooking or metalwork?

KalokiMallow · 02/01/2011 19:06

Forgot to say, rather than encouraging boys to take "feminine" work more seriously, it actually had the effect of lowering the value of it. Not helped by societies wider view of "feminine" jobs being worth less.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect · 02/01/2011 19:09

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tribpot · 02/01/2011 19:12

I think what I have found interesting is colleagues at work who find it surprising that I (bastion of the Hatchet-Faced Brigade that I am) like: knitting, embroidery and Strictly Come Dancing. "I wouldn't have thought you were into those things" being the typical comment. WTF, like I'm meant to be into clay pigeon shooting in order to demonstrate how I can be a woman in a male-dominated industry? If I liked clay pigeon shooting, fine (maybe I would, have never tried) but this isn't the 80s, I don't have to pretend to be a pseudo-man to be the equal of one.

We need to reach a stage where if you want to do judo, you do judo. If you want to do knitting, you do knitting. We're getting there, but there is a way to go yet.

KalokiMallow · 02/01/2011 19:17

Exactly Tribpot a hobby is just a hobby, it tells people nothing more than you like the hobby. I don't get assigning sexes to them, it's not like any hobbies (that I can think of) require a certain set of genitals in order to take part.

I'm apparently confusing because I like geeky stuff and sewing. Hmm Because somehow people then can't decide if I'm girlie or a tomboy. When I'd rather say neither, just female.

BeerTricksPotter · 02/01/2011 19:20

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tribpot · 02/01/2011 19:35

KalokiMallow - LOL, I work in IT so the ultimate contradiction of geek v. girl (if one subscribes to the idea that those belong to different genders - which I appreciate you don't, and neither do I!).

A few years ago, I asked my mum to knit a baby cardigan and hat for a colleague and good friend whose wife had just had a baby. He was absolutely staggered by the intricacy and detail of it and how technical it must have been to do. The following weekend I had to go down to my mum's house to sort something out on the computer and she said "I'm just useless" and I said "I don't think [colleague] would agree with you on that!". My mum is a genius knitter, really incredible. In fairness to her, it was a very bad time as my step-dad was in hospital and we didn't know if he would live (he's fine now) but it's imperative we celebrate all pastimes equally.

bucaneve · 02/01/2011 21:26

Yay everyone gets where I'm coming from!

And yes KalokiMallow I do think it can be seen with jobs as well. Things like nursery nursing or care work are such important jobs for society and yet they are so badly paid and not really seen as jobs to aspire too.

My two fave subjects at GCSE were textiles and chemistry :)

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bucaneve · 02/01/2011 21:27

*aspire to

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lisianthus · 03/01/2011 04:28

I agree that traditionally female pastimes can be interesting and very technical, but I should also point out that on that scouting thread people weren't just saying that "because it is is feminine, it is boring". I was one of those people who was saying that in my experience of brownies/cubs, the boys got to do the interesting things and the girls were stuck doing boring things.

In this case, it certainly seemed to me (both as a child and looking back on it now) that it wasn't that "girly" things were seen as boring, it was that BECAUSE we were girls, we were fobbed off with boring things IYSWIM. We were stuck inside every Wednesday afternoon cutting out pictures of the Royal Family and other obviously "make-work/keep them occupied/babysitting" things, while the boys got to learn and do things like building campfires, caving and exploring the countryside.

The girls had to do things involving them being quiet and good, but as it was assumed that boys wouldn't put up with that, they were developed and helped to learn and grow. It sucked.

YunoYurbubson · 03/01/2011 06:28

Mmmmm.... it's like people who are proud of their daughter being a tomboy, climbing trees, playing with cars, but despise pink and sparkles and fluff.

Very clear message: Boy things are cool and girl things are not.

I fell into that trap when my 3yo desparately wanted a pink sparkly bike and instead I bought her a blue dinosaur one because it was cooler. Well, she didn;t think so. And there was nowhere to put her dolly. What was I thinking?

I think it is so important to remember that just as important as letting your sons play with dolls and your daughters do karate, is letting your son have a toy tool kit for Christmas and your daughter a Barbie, IF that is what they choose.

mathanxiety · 03/01/2011 06:45

I agree Yuno -- second-guessing your children's choices is the enemy here, not pink stuff. Stuff is just stuff; it's messages from the people who love you that can do the most damage when you're growing up.

My DDs are all quite girly. There were naked Barbies underfoot constantly for years and years when they were all younger, and now the house frequently smells like a nail polish factory. They all wear their hair long and take pride in their appearance, like makeup and also do very well in school, especially in maths and science subjects. They have all played sports but none of them will ever be a star on any team except perhaps the debate team.

It's not an either /or question for them, which was the message I have to say I got growing up -- that you can either be 'pretty' and well groomed OR focused on academics. I think that was a misguided message at best as it was actually very, very dismissive of girls and women who were good-looking or interested in traditionally female areas. Far from being some sort of feminist or empowering message as my mum believed, I think in retrospect it actually reinforced a profoundly misogynistic one.

lisianthus · 03/01/2011 10:32

Of course, choice is important, but it's also important to consider the context in which those choices are made, and that some choices are easier than others because the person making the choice subconsciously feels that something is the chic she is expected to make.

Mathanxiety, I think you are being a bit hard on your mother there. Sure, there's nothing wrong with being conventionally good-looking. After all, you are born looking like that. But I think that I'd want my daughter to put more effort into academics, or sport, or knitting, or whatever than into making herself look pretty, because (IMHO) I think that what you can do is more fulfilling than what you look like and it will make her happier in the long term. That's not dismissive- that's working to give your child more choices. And it sounds as if giving your girls choices is what you do anyway.

mathanxiety · 03/01/2011 18:46

Lisianthus, I think you're right about my being hard on my mother Blush -- she was quite forward looking for her time. I've allowed my own DDs more latitude wrt makeup and fashion, and more general support in developing that side of themselves than I got, as a result of the downside, as I saw it, of how I was brought up. I push academics and good work habits and I'm pretty sure the DDs know this is the key to their futures and not their skill with the nail polish brush.

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