on ‘boys will be boys’ and the like.

We received an invitation for a brainstorm day a while back and part of the email included a piece about kids not being welcome because they can kill concentration. They totally do. Hands down. Work days with kids are double work days, for sure. (We don’t all have childcare though, so it is a barrier, but that’s a point for another day). It was framed as boy children being hard to manage, which really irked me. So I drafted a response, but forgot to edit and send it off. And since it’s been so long and I don’t know the sender personally, I thought using this as a writing exercise to be better equipped to verbalize these things on the spot later is more appropriate anyways.
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« About the kids piece, I need to share a point, just because I spend a lot of time thinking about this. I know that statements like « we have too many boys to keep it sane » really mean « we have too many toddlers/preschoolers to keep things under control, » but I feel that the popular stereotype that boys are more rambuctuous and harder to manage is not only false but also damaging to both boys and girls. To boys because it fits into the « boys will be boys » narrative that says it’s okay and ‘natural’ for boy children to wreck things and to be less respectful (which unfortunately doesn’t stop in toddlerhood, but is an expectation society has of boys and men). And damaging to girls because the underlying assumption here is that girls are « easier » to raise because they’re more docile, obedient, quiet; which is really problematic if we’re hoping to have strong outspoken women in positions of power and girls expecting (and negotiating) egalitarian partnerships as they grow up. I realize being nit-picky about language can be grating and seem uptight but I think that inviting children to be and to experience a whole wide range of emotions and behaviours, regardless of their sex and gender is our best tool for curbing gender inequality, for getting both men and women to take a stand against violence against women, and a surefire way to create a culture of consent good and early in the next generations. Hearing adults say that they act/behave a certain way because they’re boys or girls (whether or not the shoe fits), impacts their self-perceptions and, I’m convinced, spirals into self-fulfilling prophecies. Children are also the strictest gender polices once they crack the code of adults’ gender rules, which further reinforces a sub-optimal status quo. If we use more inclusive language, we all win. »
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(The revolution will start with language.)
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And on that note, I had some really fruitful conversations with our friend D this summer about how one can shift a culture, about what makes people start thinking, talking and behaving differently. I had been feeling weighed down by having to bring up gender issues, women’s issues, LGBTQ issues, children’s rights issues ALL THE TIME. You get called uptight a lot for shit like that. But in our conversations it clicked : we are conscious and particular about how we communicate, about the words we use and the words we teach because it effects the way we think, the way we classify information and what we think (/what we communicate) is important.
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My favourite example :  despite the fact that kiddo can tell (and will tell) if a (fully clothed) visitor has a penis or a vagina, he refers to people not as women or men but as people or children. He knows that there are biological males and females out there, he just doesn’t think (or hasn’t been encouraged to think) it’s the most salient characteristic about them. De quoi je suis bien fière.
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(Also, any pointers on how to talk about issues non-confrontationally when it’s something that folks just don’t have on their radars would be much appreciated. Because I don’t think I’m there).
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