Schools are closed today, and while we follow through the day news of incidents of violence in Landhi and Orangi, here is a little pink food for thought. As a mother it is disconcerting to see the heavy duty gendering happening at school. I did not have a lunch bag for M, so I gave her a spiderman bag that belongs to her brother, and is rather hip and glitzy, and certainly not available in Khadda. I was sure she would whine in the car and accuse me of not being considerate to her gender detail. (After all most kids had come with their "gender constant" colors and gadgets.) Surprisingly, M insisted she keep the bag. I asked her why and she wouldn't tell. I then said, perhaps unfairly, if it was because the other kids liked it. I was wondering if the boys thought it was cool. There was the slightest nod from her.
I have, over the last year, surrendered to gendering. I resisted it in the beginning, but then she would keep wanting barbies, and Lego houses were houses for barbies, and action figures were companions for barbies, that I gave in. A went from having pink as one of his two favorite colors (the other was black) to gravitating towards blue and sword fighting. He thinks dinos and trucks are pretty cool, and M casually watches and laughs at his obsessive and childish need to point out every digger and cement mixer on the street.
Where pink meets blue is in the playground - stacking bricks, digging holes, filling them with water. Where the level of entertainment derived from sand and water is so immense even the sociopathic gendering fails to interfere.
M's teacher once told me that she notices that girls (and these are four year olds) tend to huddle in groups and talk, ( at once involved in sorting group dynamics and weighing loyalties?) while boys run around and play physical games, and form gangs of a different order. The man at the toy shop asks you when you go to buy a birthday present - boy hai ya girl?
Ads play a huge role as this essay suggests.
And then us. We, parents, take slight preferences shown by their kids, probably absorbed through media, as personality defining. We take gendering as if it gives law and order to our world, allows us to organize. But this organization is ultimately chaotic if it trains children to suppress other interests, or adapt to expectations that are imposed from above. Boys aggressive, and girls as homemakers. At birthday parties, only moms are invited. Moms pick up from school, while fathers drop kids and then rush off to their corporate jobs.
We can stop taking little girls to beauty parlors. We can stop buying them gendered toys all the time. We really must try to destroy them less. I know, in some circles, girls are playing soccer and boys are going for cooking class, and leaning kathak.
Someone said the other day, there are three parsis in school. And someone responded, they are all trans...fers.
I heard transvestities. I wish all children were, well not transvestities, (that might be nice), but androgynous.