Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Never try to return a "boy's hat"

Before today, I had never before heard of Park Slope, a Brooklyn neighborhood which is apparently just as full of pompous, politically correct leftists as Berkeley or Cambridge. But there's an odd synchronicity today, as the discussion I'm about to link to is relevant to a discussion that I had earlier today.

This morning, several of the homeschoolers who meet at Park Street Church, met for a field trip at the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown, MA. Now, Park Street is a conservative evangelical church, located at the corner of the Boston Common, about two hundred yards down Beacon Hill from the Massachusetts State House. In other words, we're not talking about a red state environment here. Well, I tagged along on the trip, which involved 5 families, 5 moms (and me) and 16 kids. After touring the museum, we sat on the grass outside to picnic before taking the tour of the ship itself. As we watched, the kids scattered about in little groups to eat. And the girls all ate with the other girls, and the boys all ate with the other boys. The girls sat and talked, the boys ran around and swung sticks and climbed the cannon and cannonballs. And when one of the moms commented on that, I responded that "it's all our fault for imposing those artificial gender stereotypes upon them."

At which point everyone laughed. The fact is, if you've had both boys and girls, if you've dealt with kids, you recognize that there are inherent differences. Obviously, each and every individual child is different, and there are boys that show tendencies more often seen in girls, and there are girls that exhibit tendencies more often seen in boys. But there are behaviors that are masculine, there are behaviors that are feminine, and they're inherent. And they're real. And they show themselves early.

So, after coming home, as I was making a brief tour of the web, I came across the great Park Slope hat spat. And frankly, it has to be read to be believed. It started with a woman (OK - that may be unacceptable stereotyping on my part - it may have been a man using the name "Helene." Maybe I shoud just say it was a "person") making a post that she had found a "boy's hat" and would like to return it to its owner. This, apparently, is unacceptable to some people in 2006 America, as the first response to this message was from someone taking umbrage at the fact that the hat was characterized as a "boy's hat." And led to a long debate in which the term "gender sterotypes" was used more than once, and, unlike my usage, in a non-facetious manner.

It's an interesting read, and would be funnier if it weren't quite so chilling...

Technorati tags: ParkSlope, Hat, Gender, Stereotyping



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