February 16th, 2014

reflect

Gender roles in my upbringing

A little while ago I asked people if there's anything they'd like me to blog about. curious_reader replied:
I would find it interesting how much your family gave gender roles like what a girl or a boy should play with and which way they should behave. I often tried to comment about that at various places or told you a bit.
I'm afraid the answer is quite boring: My parents were no in way non-traditional in this respect. Actually, I grew up with no girls at all in my home environment: I had two brothers and no sisters (much to my mother's regret), and though two of my six first cousins are female, one lived hundred of miles away in London and we rarely saw each other, and the other was not born until I was sixteen.

I think we had a typical boys' set of toys: Lego, of course (back in the days before its marketing was gendered). My father made a train set, but, much as the stereotype goes, I think he derived more pleasure from it than we did; he tried briefly, though without much success, to get us into meccano and into electronics. When he got his first computer, when I was eleven, I took to it like a duck to water. (Actually, I'd already learned to program at school by then, and had been pestering him to get a computer for years, as all my friends had one.)

We had an Action Man toy; I think I was always a bit suspicious of it, as weren't dolls girls' toys? When my aunt gave me Black Beauty as a birthday present, it struck me that that was a girls' book too, but I dutifully read it and, to be fair, quite enjoyed it. (I had no such problem with the books my mother recommended from her childhood, such as The Family from One End Street; those didn't seem to me to have as gendered an audience.)

As for behaviour, I'm not sure what cues parents might have given for how a girl should behave as opposed to a boy (for the reason given above); you'll have to provide me with some hints if you wish me to answer this.

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