Saturday, September 18, 2010

How Scholastic Books molds our boys into he-men & girls into BFFs!

The latest Scholastic Book catalog arrived in my son's backpack.  One new book would probably appeal to him: "The Boys' Book of Adventure: Are You Ready to Face the Challenge?" -- "learn how to dive for treasure, survive on a desert island, tackle a komodo dragon, and more!"
Don't worry--Scholastic didn't forget the girls!  "The Girls' Book of Friendship: How to Be the Best Friend Ever"-- "Packed with fun activities--stay friends for life, make a friendship bracelet, and more!"
So, boys get adventure, girls get BFFs ("best friends forever," for the uninitiated).  I see the attraction of both adventure and friendship.  It is the gendering of friendship and adventure that irks me.  The book series has a certain 1950s look to it (though the covers have modern images), which is cool until we recall the stricter gender boundaries for girls and boys back then.  

These books, in effect, serve to equate boys=adventure and girls=friendships and target an age group in which boys fairly strictly understand themselves against girls and all things girlie.  What is a boy?  A boy is NOT a girl.  And vice verse for girls.  So, to be a girl means to not seek adventure, in effect.

These books at first glance seem so attractive--kitschy and fun and harmless.  But in effect they are one more brick in the wall that narrows the horizon of possibilities for being a girl or being a boy in this society.

My son is still fairly sensitive and loving and communicative--at least while at home.  And as he gets older PLUS takes up more he-man sports (eg. football), I hope he stays in touch with that sensitive side. 

They got creamed in their football game this morning!  The score was incredibly uneven.  They were all so dejected, sad-looking.  And there were definite tears flowing at various points in the game.  I didn't realize that 10 year old boys cry in sports....regularly!  And the best athletes seem to cry the most--when they get hurt, but also out of frustration or disappointment.  One mom hugged her son and put a blanket over his head as he was crying--she didn't do it out of shame but just to give him some privacy. 

In general, these football boys are pretty sweet.   I don't overhear them cussing or being crude or rude (aside from some innocuous fart jokes).  And we've got some gentle giants on the team who have to be prodded to tackle hard.

So I've got to hand it to these moms and dads--they're raising some fairly sensitive and sweet boys thus far.  Maybe that's why they lost so badly?  No, I think the other team out-skilled them (vs. winning by being more aggressive).  Plus, as one mom said, our boys just aren't morning people. 

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