Mouse was telling me a bit ago about a couple who came into the store where she works with their kid. The woman was buying scrapbook supplies. The father was grumbling about. The kid, a little boy, picked up a sticker, wondering if he could have it. Dad went off. No! No! Put that down. Girls do that! Not Boys! Girls!
Mouse had more to say on this, all of it caustic, but it made me think of what's been happening to our Mick, at our pleasant little Montessori school. As you know, Mick and my kid have been best of friends since we first moved to Pork Smith, when Mick was 16 months old and the kid was 4. They play together all the time, they always have. But lately Mick has been catching shit from the boys in his class, because, as you might have noticed and they clearly have, the kid is, holy crap, a girl. They are riding his hide about it, that he plays with a girl. You know how evil and disgusting that is, playing with one of those!
Mick is a tough nut, let me tell you. He makes his own trail. But, on the other hand, he's five. It's a deal to bear up under, the socialization of the patriarchy. He's talked to the kid about it. He's talked to his mom (the Other Liberal Professor) about it (and she's talked to the teachers).
The kid has talked to me about it. "They say if he plays with me," she relates, "he'll have to play with Barbies! I don't even like Barbies! That's stupid. They say I'll hit him with a baseball bat! Why would I hit him? They say--"
"Hey," I say, calming her down. "Hey. Even if you did play with Barbies. What would be wrong with that?"
She's breathing hard. "But I don't!"
"That's not the point. What are they trying to say about girls?"
She thinks. "That girls are bad?"
"And why would they be trying to get Mick to believe that?"
"One word," I said, "and it ain't start with W."
"Patriarchy?" she says, disbelievingly.
"It's not just on TV," I promise her.
Over here on Pandagon, there's a beautiful post by Chris Clarke about women's experience -- which, yes, starts at six and seven and nine -- and guess what? It's not just us. Mick, too, is getting hurt by this patriarchy crap, at five. So was that little boy in Mouse's store. So are all our children.
Go read the post.
Read the comments too: the testimony of the women in them gets a big Amen from me.