Friday, 13 February 2009

Girl Scouts/Boy Guides

"Are the boys being crowded out?" asks Jenny Murray on this morning's Woman's Hour. I'm a Mummy Blogger (really!) and I'm at home listening to the radio and doing 'wimmin's work' while Sarah goes out every day to earn the cash, so I find this whole girl/boy discussion fascinating. And apart from asking whether boys and girls should be mixing with their own 'gender' (it's sex, for goodness sake - the feather-boa wearing thing is 'gender') this was a useful item. Girls can join the cubs and scouts, play football with the boys (at least until age 13) but the boys can't join the Girl Guides. Girls are everywhere and can - as one speaker on the programme said - 'do anything' while boys, well, must be 'boys'.
One father of a boy with three big sisters said his son "feels comfortable in a tutu, and wearing feather-boas". A former colleague of mine said he could always tell a man who had a sister. And having taught at an all-boys school where there was a massive macho reaction against anything effeminate or delicate (though, as usual with adolescent boys, they did 'protest too much') I'm convinced of the civilising influence of girls on boys. But has it gone too far? What's happening to the boys? Are we in danger of raising a generation of men with an identity-crisis?
It's fascinating watching Charlie play, precisely because he gravitates towards anything 'typically' masculine, especially things with wheels. It doesn't matter if it's pink or blue or decorated with Fifi Forget-Me-Not or Thomas the Tank Engine, he just loves wheels. And cars. And trains. Boys toys. There are others less gender-stereotypical toys for him to choose from. But he doesn't. He's a typical little 'boy'. He's walking like a Frankenstein mini-me and opening doors and taking things apart; he can kick a ball (unlike his father!) and generally cause havoc round the house. Actually, a spell in the Guides might do him good. I'm just glad he's got an older sister!


  1. The three year old up until a few months ago would always opt for a pink fairy dress when playing dressing up and thinks nothing of playing with the 4 year olds dolls.

    He also has an obsession with cars and diggers and more recently dressing like a pirate or Sportacus.

    His sister is pleased that she now has back full control of all fairy wear.

  2. He sounds a completely natural little lad. And when he grows older you can always hand him down your tutu and feather boa!

  3. Yes, i was listening to that on Woman''s Hour today. But what boy would want to join the Guides or Brownies? A lot of girls from Daughter's school went to scouts and had a great time. But cannot remotely imagine it the other way round.

    When we had our Son after our Daughter, my Husband had this weird idea that a sister would be a calming influence! Mind you, he also said England would never tolerate a smoking ban!

    i was amazed, tho', how son became sexist very young. He always prefered mr Men as opposed to Little Miss's and yes, Thomas and Fireman Sam came top every time.

    I can't see any real advantage of him having a sister, except he's more tolerant of Bratz dolls and Hannah Montana.

    Darling, please tell me what Twitter means.

  4. My son had fairy wings and floaty dress when his sister and cousins did, AND he loved anything with wheels or mechanical bits. Didn''t hurt him any, as he's grown up into one of the most well rounded people you could wish to meet. I think parents and relations often tend to push kids into stereotypes. My daughter, by the way, is great with a screwdriver when necessary!

  5. I have a picture of my son wearing a tutu and a fluffy bra top, it is on Facebook for all my friends to see. I think this says more about me than him, perhaps I should erase it but he was loving it!

  6. I was a Wolf Cub (now called Cub Scouts)and enjoyed all that it entailed: being a sixer, getting The Leaping Wolf badge, having a myriad of assorted badges down my arms, silver stars in my cap etc etc. My Akela was a woman as was the deputy. No problem.

    I can't see why there can't be just one Scouting organisation embracing boys and girls.

    Dib, dib, dib!
    Dob, dob, dob!

  7. I had Action Girl and Action Man - they got up to all sorts.

  8. My daughter LOVES to play assassin (gulp)and James Bond while wearing a tutu and crown. Yesterday she held off a large number of zombies trying to attack her brother on XB360 (we were all impressed and terrified at the same time over her skills handling a virtual assault rifle...oy!) Oh, did I mention she was again in a flouncy tutu...wearing glittery lip gloss...with big bows in her hair???? And did I mention she just turned 6!?!

  9. I have a priceless memory of my daughter aged 4 and a half and my son aged 18 months sitting side by side on the sofa with dollies up their jumpers feeding their babies as I sat and breastfed their new baby sister.

    I'm saving that little nugget up for my Jackass watching, Foo Fighters adoring, rugby playing alpha male son's 18th or 21st !!!

  10. I say don't agonise over it, boys will be boys or girls and girls will follow their own paths too.

    I agree with the comment that maybe one scouting organisation for boys and girls.

  11. I made very sure that I treated my two the same when they were young. But my experience is that the male child is 'wired' very, very differently to his female sibling. There is simply a prediliction for anything they can kick, take apart, build, or that has wheels.

    Still, I do have some rather gorgeous photos of my son in a fairy dress, which I shall be using as ammunition when he is older ;-)


  12. I let my son to play with plastic bracelets and beads of mine when he was little - My late mum, watching, was worried that I would 'turn him gay'! (Sadly, she was from that generation that would never understand...) I never allowed him to have guns, other than water pistols when he was older... and I baulked in a little beach-side shop one day, at the mother who prescribed that her son could only have a blue water bucket, her daughter pink!

    My son is 17, and has girls who are his best friends as well as boys - I feel he will be pretty well rounded as an adult, too.

  13. Yup, my little boy is the same - all boy. Cars, rockets and things crashing and banging all have him in fits of giggles. I was just the same and yet had 2 sisters who's civilizing influence on me was pretty much non-existent while the sister closest to me was a real tom-boy. Maybe I civilized her? ;-)

  14. My son turns 5 tomorrow. On his birthday must have list are:
    A ben ten alien killing watch
    Ponies in my pocket
    He's well rounded.

  15. he gravitates towards... especially things with wheels After schoolboy trips to the science museum I thought I wanted to be an engineer; after a year of an engineering degree I thought I should have been a ballet dancer! (True story). Oh for a healthy balance.

  16. My three sons, whilst loving playing with anything whith wheels (trucks, cars, diggers etc) also loved our huge dress-ups box as well... lots of old dresses and lacy things in there to. No problems. A childs' imagination is their strength :)

  17. I bet she is, Laura. Actually dressing up 'cross gender' doesn't seem to be a problem for little boys. Or is that me? (He's not getting near it, Troy. All those feathers! Who does the vacumming round here?)

    Actually, I wouldn't have minded Jenny. They were a lot better looking than the scouts I shared a tent with!

    I hope you've got the pictures, Jinksy. But I think posting them on Facebook's taking things a bit too far, Mary T. After all, how will you embarrass him - a la Kitty or Auntie Gwen - on his eighteenth?

    Obviously superior leadership skills to your humble correspondent, DD - I only made seconder. The shame.

    Action girl Scarlett. Really? (Must get one of those for Charlie!)

    I think you've just hit on a formula for the next James Bond film, Bee. After all, the Daniel Crai in a tuxedo was becoming a little jaded.

    But do boys know how to be boys these days, M? (Actually, they probably do. But is it 'built in' or do they learn it from other boys?)

    That's quite a recent thing, in my experience, AWofNI - boys having girl 'friends'. And a good thing.

    Interesting, Steve. By 'civilising' I suppose I meant keeping the juvenile graffiti in books at bay. That's something girls don't seem to do, and boys seem to restrain themselves when there are girls around. But at an all-boys school... honestly, you couldn't move for penises!

    Ponies in my pocket? Is that a new James Bond gadget? Sounds cool.

    There's still time, Gadjo. Isn't there?

    Yup, Mal. The imagination certainly has it. Charlie imagines he's a dog sometimes, crawling along with his trousers in his mouth. It's very funny. What is he going to dress-up as?!

  18. Nature or Nurture, it is such an interesting debate.

  19. It is, you're right Suburbia. I'd have opted for nurture every time until recently; watching Charlie makes me wonder.

  20. My younger brother had to wear a number of my hand me downs. I recently found a photo of him aged about two wearing a bathing costume. He looked more like a girl than I did with his blond curly hair.

  21. My son has never played with dolls, never dressed up as a fairy, 100% beaver, then cub, scout and explorer, he was never interested in girls until now. He's 15 and girls are starting to be his main interest!!! My daughter does not like to be in the Brownies as she thinks they're too boring. She'd like to be in the scouts! She plays football, likes wall climbing and cycling. But she likes pink and High School Musical as well...There is no single rule for boys and girls. Don't worry about Charlie, he's got the right looks and personality to be a heart-breaker. Ciao. Antonella
    PS Still miss his beautiful smile!!!

  22. This gender stereotyping is very interesting. I was always a very girly girl but I had a female friend who just wanted to do boy's stuff. She even looked like a little boy. Anyway,would you mind it if Charlie wanted to play with Barbie as opposed to Ken?

  23. p.s. - yes the bus header looks good

  24. Yesssss, Dot - I'm executing an arabesque at the barre as I write this....

  25. Interesting, CW - especially as Sally has started putting alice-bands in Charlie's (rather long) hair. Time for a trim, I think.

    Interesting, Lunarossa. Sally loved Rainbows and Brownies, and is now proudly in the Guides. Yet she plays football and cricket with some skill. No rules, as you say.

    I probably wouldn't even notice, FF. And there are plenty of Sally's cast-offs for him to choose from. And thanks - it was your post that led me to the bus site.

    I trust you'll be posting a video on YouTube, Gadjo.

  26. My Charlie is just the same - he does have painted toe nails though. We've not specifically tried to give him boy toys but he just can't resist trains and buses and cars - like your Charlie, he's just as happy with Fifi so long as she has wheels!

  27. I loved being a girl guide. It's how I met my first husband.

    CJ xx

  28. My son also likes to dress up in girly things but it may not necessarily be the influence of his two older sisters causing this.....his dad actually owns a dress and 'Hooters' outfit and he's an only child!

  29. What colour are they, Sparx. Sally wants to know. I think you've given her an idea.

    Your husband? What a lucky man. (Actually, I went on a guide camp once. It rained.)

    What's a 'hooters' outfit, Sarah?

  30. I was brought by parents who believed that there was little difference between the sexes in terms of what children would play with and was never given 'girly' toys (had secret longings for Sindy dolls and pink twirly dresses but never got them). I have been quite careful not to gender stereotype my children but not deny them what they like (branded stuff excepted) and am astonished at how boyish my boy is. He does seem to gravitate to the balls and wheels much more than my girl. SHe plays with them too, but not as obsessively. However, he quite often goes out to kick a ball in a tiara..

  31. Dotterel - they're dark red! Sorry, just came back to read this... he had blue ones too once.

  32. Better be careful when going for a header, Mothership!

    I think Sally's eyeing up a nice shade of purple, Sparx!


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