Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Stupid, It Burns

I had to check that it indeed was the year 2011 and the United States when I happened across this:

Us Weekly has a photo of Brad and Angelina's little girl dressed in a boy's swimming trunks last weekend while taking a dip with her siblings last weekend in Berkeley, Calif. Sister Zahara appears to be in a girl's one-piece suit.
The child is four years old.

We don't mostly notice the gender-policing, but it's pretty obvious in something like this.

That we don't notice it may be the reason why this article at Salon by a woman who somewhat regrets having been a stay-at-home mother for fourteen years provoked so many comments by people who argued that nobody forced her to do that and that she should grow up and take responsibility for her own choices.

Which is really very interesting because I read about women's proper place being at home with the children every single day while fishing in the bottom mud of the Internet.

Sure, nobody chained the writer of that piece to the kitchen stove. But this is not the same as the society exerting no pressure on mothers' employment choices (guilt!), and neither is it the same as the society cheerfully making sure that the women (and men) who do take time off for child-rearing don't get financially punished for it later on. Indeed, the reverse is closer to the truth.

This gendering of roles is in the very air we breathe, and it seems to begin when we are about four years old.