From Left to Write Book Club: Raising My Rainbow

I received a copy of “Raising My Rainbow” free of charge for my participation in this book club. The book link below is an affiliate link.

It’s time for another From Left to Write book club post (though I’m getting this one up a bit late – oops!) and I’m excited this time to be writing alongside some blends! For those who missed my last post, From Left to Write encourages blogging not a review of each book, but a post on anything the book inspired. Yes, anything! I’m here today to write about gender stereotypes and kids, an obvious choice given the description of Lori Duron’s Raising My Rainbow:

“Parenting is not an easy job, but what happens when your son loves to wear dresses and plays with toys marketed for girls? Lori Duron encounters this and much more with her youngest son, CJ. In Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son, Duron shares her discovery about CJ’s gender non-conformity and how her family accepts him for who he is.”

Lori (before this book, she had and still has her blog of the same name) and her husband, Matt, do a great job of not pushing CJ to continue in typical “boy sports” he tries and quickly loses interest in. She mentions that if he asks her to take dance or art classes, she will enroll him and not try to change his mind. That’s great, but it also got me thinking about the amount of “gender-conforming” activities young boys (versus young girls) have available to them.

Think about it – enroll a boy in dance class, and people will raise eyebrows. A mother’s little guy asks if he can go to theater camp instead of soccer camp, and she may wonder about the reason behind his choice (even if the reason is as simple as him just liking theater). But if a girl asks her dad to toss a baseball around, he probably wouldn’t blink. Rec soccer seems to be a rite of passage for both girls and boys. No one questioned me when I asked to enroll in karate, and there were plenty of girls in my class.

Lori speaking at an event. Source

Females aren’t the only ones subjected to double standards. Co-ed sports seem always to be about making sure girls know it’s okay to do any sport a boy wants to do, but does anyone ever think about co-ed art or ballet classes? I can’t think of many childhood recreational activities that would be deemed gender nonconforming for young girls (except maybe softball, but that’s just a stupid stereotype), but can think of several that would get a boy unwanted attention if he elected to do them.  In that sense, little boys have less open to them for exploration. Maybe a kid who would be an awesome tap dancer will never know it, because he doesn’t want to ask him mom if he can do the same class his sister does, for fear of being judged.

A fine arts camp painting CJ did. Source

I know that female power-lifters or hockey players get wary eyes, especially from sexist people who don’t think they can “handle it”. But when those girls prove they can, they often earn respect. If a guy gets wary eyes for wanting to become a ballerina and then turns out being great at it, he might get even less respect (especially from other men) for being so good at a “girl” sport. I’m not saying that young girls always have it easier than young boys, but I do feel like a young girl can often be seen affectionately as a “tomboy”. When is the last time a parent you know shrugged off a son’s affinity for “girly” activities as the result of him being a “tomgirl”?

Not everyone may agree with these thoughts, but that’s what I like about From Left to Write – the blog posts that come out of it can spark debate or deeper insights, which is a lot more than a generic review would do.

So tell me, do you understand and/or agree with what I’m saying?

Have you, your children, or any children you know had experience being judged for wanting to do a sport or activity that goes against the norm?

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