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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

DS often mistaken for a girl - what's the logical approach - to correct or not?

24 replies

BedHanger · 19/04/2013 21:23

My toddler DS is often mistaken for a girl - he wears lots of bright colours, is very 'pretty' (big eyes, delicate features, long eyelashes) and a rather neglected pudding bowl haircut (I cut it and have a newborn so it is fairly long atm!).

I don't tend to correct people in casual conversation as I don't want to make things awkward, but from a feminist perspective, would it be logical to correct them (and therefore challenge the gender stereotyping) or not (because it shouldn't matter, and there's nothing wrong with being a girl!)?

OP posts:
BedHanger · 19/04/2013 21:24

'Wrong' should have had inverted commas around it there.

OP posts:
VoidofDiscovery · 19/04/2013 21:26

There's nothing wrong with being a girl.

badguider · 19/04/2013 21:29

If somebody actually says something about him being a girl at a playgroup or something then I would correct just because they'll be embarassed if they find out later they've been doing it for ages (like if you keep calling somebody the wrong name and they don't tell you).

But smaller things like a stranger using 'she' and it doesn't matter and you'll never see them again I wouldn't bother about.... In fact, in general i'd treat it the same as mispronounciation of my child's name.

CognitiveOverload · 19/04/2013 21:34

He is a boy though so referring to him as a girl is probably confusing for him.

SplitHeadGirl · 19/04/2013 21:35

This happened to me just a few days ago - a lady in an ice cream shop thought I had two litttle daughters. When I told her the youngest was a boy, she looked embarrassed and said it was because he was so beautiful. That didn't make any sense to me, but I just laughed it off. No big deal. I only corrected her because I take them in there regularly and have a feeling myself and the lady in the shop might become kind-of-friends.

BedHanger · 19/04/2013 21:37

I think we're in agreement there, voice!

OP posts:
BedHanger · 19/04/2013 21:38

Sorry, void.

OP posts:
omletta · 19/04/2013 21:40

My DS is nearly 11, and this happens all the time. He has longish hair. ( his choice, lots of grandparent pressure t have cut - lots of 'whatever' from me and DH)

My response is either
A) smile
B) HE's a boy
C) WTAF - why would I want my child to be defined by their gender!

Depending predominately on my perception of the intelligence of those I'm speaking to.

rumbelina · 19/04/2013 21:46

Agree with badguider - my ds is often taken for a girl. If its just one comment eg ooh she's got lovely hair, I just leave it. If its a conversation or someone I'll see again then I'll just say to save awkwardness later. It doesn't bother me in the slightest though and I'll agree with them that he does look 'girly' - like yours, op, he has long eyelashes, curly hair which goes into ringlets, heart shaped mouth.

Startail · 19/04/2013 21:51

As a child of the '70s when hair was short and we all tore about on chopper style bikes with trousers on, I was a boy more often than not to strangers. Only at 10 when I gained slightly girly copper rimmed glasses did people get it right.

My sister and my BF were both broad had broad shoulders and short blond hair. I look nothing like that. On a good day people thought they were sisters, but it was unusual for people to decide we were all boys.

Bows and arrows and penknives probably didn't help Grin

We never thought anything of it. Toys, clothes and bikes weren't colour coded pink and blue. We didn't have school uniform and only wore dresses in the summer.

Mistyshore · 19/04/2013 21:54

I had a Lady Diana haircut and dressed in sports gear until I was 12. I was often referred to as son or young man, I wasn't bothered. Don't correct people.

People getting your dc's gender wrong won't cause lasting damage Grin

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate · 19/04/2013 22:02

Agree with badguider.

Jessepinkman · 19/04/2013 22:06

My dd2 was frequently mistaken for a boy and I didn't used to correct people all the time.

'He's a nice little chap'
'Thank you, we think so'
'What's his name?'

I had to keep it up with one person, before we moved house.

MillyMoo1113 · 19/04/2013 22:11

Omletta, has does your ds react? My ds has just turned 11, with hair past his shoulders, like your ds, completely his choice, my family all think I should get him a "proper" hair cut....

He used to get upset, but now he seems calmer when anyone calls him"she", which I'm glad about, hoping he can deal with any comments come high school September.

I do tend to correct the persons mistake, but because it matters to me but for ds really.

TeiTetua · 19/04/2013 23:09

"she looked embarrassed and said it was because he was so beautiful."

To which the reply ought to be a smile and "Oh well, yes he is." No need to say, "Doesn't make him a girl though, you twit."

OhHullitsOnlyMeYoni · 19/04/2013 23:17

Could you not just drop his name in in response - 'X, say hello to the nice lady/man' assuming his name isn't unisex of course!

flatmum · 19/04/2013 23:24

This happened /happens regularly with all 3 of my dc (small, long hair, button noses etc). I ignore completely but alway use he when I reply or whatever. The only time it really pissed me off was when a GP did it all the way through a half hour appt when he had his medical records up in front of him the whole way.

They are/have all turned into attractive boys who are no longer mistaken for girls so I don't worry about it, and from a feminist pov I think it doesn't hurt for them to get away from the girls are anathaemia stance that they get subjected to as soon as they get to school

BrittaPie · 19/04/2013 23:39

People get really embarrased if they mistake DD2 for a boy, so I tend to just go along with it. Usually DD1 or DD2 will tell the person the truth anyway though.

She has short hair, is quite stocky, wears boys clothes and shoes (because she likes blue, and Thomas, and bugs, and is too active for anything dainty) and acts like a stereotypical boy (ie she doesn't just sit there looking pretty, but that is a whole other thread...) so tbh I think going for "boy" is the logical move half of the time.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper · 20/04/2013 09:14

I was tall, skinny and had short hair; my brother, also tall and skinny with short hair was 20 months younger than me and we were the spit of each other. I used to get mistaken for a boy all the time, and I hated it.

Obviously your DS is too young to care right now, but further down the line being mistaken for the 'wrong' gender might - might! - really piss him off.

I'd loved to have grown my hair, but it was too much faff according to my parents Hmm so I was stuck looking like my brother's twin...

VinegarDrinker · 20/04/2013 09:18

I don't correct people, although DS (2) sometimes does! He also asks people if they have willies.

Celticcat · 20/04/2013 09:58

Been there! I was a tomboy and got taken to be a boy as a child, became a very tall gangly teenager who wore mini skirts to ensure it didn't happen again. But shopping in probably unfeminine attire got me called Sir! Twice!
My ds is quite boy like now at 15, but as a child was often asked her name and told how sweet she was.
Funny really, my son was a cuter girl than me!

funchum8am · 21/04/2013 19:14

My dd is only 6mo but is more often than not mistaken for a boy by strangers who say hello eg if she smiles at someone the often say "hello young man, what's your name" etc. I presume thus is because she hardly ever has any pink about her person and perhaps also because her fleece blanket in the buggy is blue. I just introduce her by her (non unisex) name and leave it at that. Doesn't bother me or DH (who as sahp deals with it more than I do) but then we are a pretty gender role reversed family with me working ft and DH at home so she is not likely to worry about gender defining her too much I hope Grin


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FattyMcChubster · 21/04/2013 19:24

My dd has been mistaken for a boy by a gentleman saying 'ooh he looks just like our dave' to which his wife muttered 'shut up, it's a girl' Grin
At her age it's hard to tell especially as she was in nothing gender specific.

Have had an argument with a stranger once when he decide my friends dd was a boy and would not accept that no, she is a girl, we checked! Hmm

fortyplus · 21/04/2013 19:29

Both my sons used to get mistaken for girls sometimes until about the age of 14 - they didn't mind. Sometimes I would correct, other times not. Probably depending on whether or not they were likely to meet the person again in future.

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