Gender, sport, and TV ads

Fair warning: rant ahead. See, I have this hot button about gendering stuff, and in particular about how we build up images of what genders are and what a person of a given gender do. I always did, but let me just say that having a daughter has done nothing to lessen my sensibility in the area.

There’s so so many ways we tell our kids what girls are and do, and what boys are and do. And then when they come back and tell us what we’ve taught them, we say “see, boys and girls just have different aspirations right from the start”. Again and again we forget (or ignore, or whatever) that gender is a social construct.

This is so, so prevalent (all-pink girls section in the clothes store, anyone). What triggered me today was this little gem I found on YouTube (via Sociological Images):

Innocent, you say? Sure – except it tells little boys watching this they should strive to be heros and do stuff that will be admired, and it tells little girls that their role in spots is to admire the boys as they do their heroics. Which is not a good role model for girls who want to play ball themselves (did I mention that my daughter is really good at sports? No? Well, she is). In fact, it’s a model that tell girls that sports is not really for them, that their role is a passive one. With enough messages like this, active girls will go elsewhere – or learn to not be active. ’cause, you see, the message of “boys do, girls admire” is one of these patters that we (possibly unconsciously) teach our kids over and over, with TV adds being just one channel.

Messages that push women into a passive role (in sport or in society at large) are not good for our girls; as a father to a girl I’m annoyed by stuff like this. And frankly, messages that teach boys they should expect that a woman’s role is to admire them is not good for the boys either. These little boys in the ad may do good in basketball. But they will also grow up in a world where young women do better than young men in college, get better university degrees, and will get good jobs. These young women will not be looking for a boyfriend who expect them to sit passive and admire him (while he plays NBA2021 on his game console).

King Winter Arrives

This morning was a fall morning like so many others. I was first person up, spending a few minutes checking mail and calendars before getting stated on breakfast, lunch packs, checking school bags, and all the rest of the morning routine. I didn’t pay much attention to my surroundings – after all, it was dark out and I was the only person up.

The family started to rise as I was finishing most of the chores. I went into the living room looking for an missing school book, and something caught my eye. Not in the room, but outside. Not only was it no longer dark, there was snow all over the lawn! In fact, snow was pelting down, covering bushes and houses. My daughter came rushing down the stairs, all excited. Snow! Finally!

The talk was immediately about snow fights, snow men, tobogans, and so on.  Light in the kid’s eyes.  We also talked about how we have a long winter in front of us, but we might have to wait a bit before there’s enough snow for the fun to begin. “Sure”, the kid said, jumping up and down with excitement.  It’s one of the wonders of having kids about – you get to remember being excited about stuff and not think “oh, no – morning traffic in the snow”.

We walked to school in the snow – and, truly, it wasn’t much snow to speak of, melting and turning into slush as it hit the ground. Slush, slush, slush, walking to school.  But never mind that; King winter will rule the land, the traffic, and the playgrounds for 3 months or so. I just hope this is a year he can make up his mind – snow that stays, or no snow. The slush get old pretty fast. Here’s looking forward to pretty white mornings and days playing in the snow. With the help of the hearts of kids I will remember to look King Winter in the eye and enjoy it.

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dogleather-clad biker

Nobody knows you're a dogPeter Steiner’s adage “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” is well known, but it got a new twist here (in Denmark) this week.

The host of a radio show for children and young people was apparently a little too interested in his audience. He went into chat-rooms, talking up young girls, letting on that he was a talent scout with a model agency. A 15-year old girl agreed to meet him. What the show host didn’t know, was that the girl’s father was a member of a biker gang. The result of all that was a severe punch in the nose and a trip to the hospital.

Just goes to show that the warning not to take identities on the net at face value goes for both sides in a conversation…