Monday, May 21, 2007

more on boys and danger

Jody over at Raising WEG has a great post about the title and marketing of The Dangerous Book for Boys. Of course she's right, and I'm sorry I didn't really address it in my earlier post. I was interested in thinking about danger and kids in general, and the way that has played out with my particular kids--which has gender implications, but I didn't raise the implications of the book's title itself. It is, as Jody says, a problem to suggest that only boys are interested in dangerous stuff, or that you're not a boy if you're not interested in dangerous stuff (or not a girl if you are). So go read her; she's smart about it.

I was also thinking about stereotypes and gender yesterday when I went to the last of Nick's four dance performances of the weekend. (I was also backstage mom for one, and went to the second one with the rest of the family.) The kids were spectacular. For the opening and finale there were 700 (give or take) kids on stage, all dancing more or less in synch. They smiled, they clapped, they stomped and turned and bounced and swayed. I loved every minute of it, and as far as I could tell so did they. Nick liked it so much he's trying out for the advanced program, which involves a lot more ballet technique (and a lot more performance).

So on the way out I was more than annoyed to hear this exchange between parents. There were two couples, and the mom from one said to the dad from the other: "Wouldn't you be proud if your son got picked for the ballet?" Only, from her tone, it was clear that she didn't think he would be--that, in fact, it would be somewhat embarrassing to have a boy in the ballet. She followed up a minute later with, "well, ballet and soccer, I guess they balance each other out." (Doesn't she know soccer is European, and European men aren't manly, either? Oh, never mind...)

How you could walk out of the performance we'd both just seen and assume that somehow dancing wasn't quite manly enough for boys stymied me. (Never mind that nine- and ten-year-old boys hardly ought to be aspiring to manliness anyway...)

Luckily Nick doesn't think dancing isn't manly. Well, he wouldn't: his tae kwon do instructor, whom he reveres, danced with the ballet for years. And breaks cinder blocks with his hand. Take that!


Magpie said...

700 kids on stage! Wow.

Lynn Swann, football player, took ballet classes. Ballet is one of the hardest things to do physically - it requires strength, flexibility, speed AND grace.

Good luck to Nick!

maria said...

There's a lot of that kind of veiled sexism/racism/name your prejudice around here too – and sometimes not so veiled – and it makes me very uncomfortable about letting my daughter hang out with otherwise nice people. It blows my mind that in 2007 there is still such ignorance and closed-mindedness, so pervasive.

Lilian said...

Great post. I went ahead and cited all of Jody's manifesto in my blog yesterday ;)

I think dancing is GREAT for boys as any other "girly" activities -- and the other way around too, obviously :)