I really enjoy attending functions in larger cities or at the college and experience gender in all of its wonderful fluidity. Because gender IS fluid. Theres no reason why I cant wear a dress one day and a suit the next. Gender and sexuality can interact with each other, and they can also be completely different entities. (I wont even go into biological sex and psychological gender right now!)
Anyways. All this has me thinking about kids and gender. Josie is as pretty much as girly as girly can get. Now she WILL wear jeans/pants, but its always in a feminine outfit. She doesnt like to play with "boy" toys, or read books or watch tv shows that are too "boyish". She nags Michelle and I on occasion for not being girly enough. Alex definatley has many stereotypical boy behaviors. He is always filthy, always running and playing hard. Very accident prone. He loves to build things and break things. But hes also willing, on many occasions, to dress up and play barbies with his sister.
Recently Egalia Preschool in Sweden was the focus of many news programs and gender activists around the world. The program at Egalia encourages gender neutrality. They do not use gender describing pronouns such as HE or SHE. All of the children are instead referred to as "friends". The barbies and blocks are intermixed for play. They do not read books about fairytale princesses, but focus on strong family books the frequently highlight gay couples, single parents, and other types of families. The goal is for kids to reach their highest potential without any barriers presented by gender. I really love and value this idea. Its a wonderful way to raise children.
But how do you approach the subject of gender to children that are older and set in their ways? I give J the example of her mom, who wears womens clothing but the femininity is fairly muted. I also use myself as an example, 90% of my clothing is mens. We always encourage A to play dress up and that its okay. I have to wonder though, if there is something more we could be doing to educate them?