gender: children/youth

Cross-posted at Jezebel.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (via Family Inequality) reveals that boys report less sex education than girls.

What teenagers report learning from school:

What teenagers report learning from their parents:

Compared to boys, then, girls report more guidance from school and significantly more from their parents. This probably reflects cultural ideas that boys naturally desire sex, have a positive sense of their own sexuality, and that nothing really bad can happen to them; in contrast, the risk that sex poses to girls’ reputations and the possibility of sexual violence and pregnancy often shape how educators and parents manage their emerging sexualities.

Or it might be an artifact of self-reporting.  Thoughts?

See also our popular post on STI, pregnancy, and abortion rates in the U.S. versus select European countries (hint: the U.S. doesn’t come out smelling like roses).

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Anita Sarkeesian, at Feminist Frequency, starts from the beginning.  How is contemporary advertising to children gendered today?  And why does it matter?  With a special discussion of girls and technology.  Enjoy:

(Transcript after the jump.)

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Last month we posted a clip of a group of Yankee fans taunting two teenage Red Sox fans by yelling a homophobic version of YMCA.  In the comment thread, Amadi linked to another instance in which men mocked other men with reference to homosexuality in a sports context.  At a football game between Eastlake North and Willoughby South High Schools (outside of Cleveland, Ohio), fans were recorded chanting “powder blue faggots!” across the field.  The summary on youtube reports that the other side was chanting, in reply “Halloween homos!”

Video by Heather Ike; graphics, editing, captions, pictures, and screenshots added by Sean Chapin at Joe.My.God.

Thanks to Myaisha for the tip!

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

We’ve documented dozens of instances in which products are coded with gender (e.g., with colors and patterns) but sometimes, as in the example of a toy cop car, it is specified that items are for girls or for boys.  More than simply following gendered themes and allowing us to infer their meaning, these items offer a gendered prescription for use.

Kelly, for example, sent in a JC Penney page for a Hello Kitty sewing machine that specifies that it is for girls (it was also specified as for girls at Target):

Likewise, Coley L. bought a shorts-and-shirt swimsuit for a daughter.  The green swimsuit, however, was labeled explicitly for boys:

And MP sent in a link to a downloadable foldable gift card holder that specified whether it was for him or her in the url:

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Sharon Gefen sent along a five-minute SPARK Summit video on the sexualization of women and girls in the media and its effects on young women:

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Sent in by Peter via Ms. blog.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


An anonymous reader sent in a segment (found at Taking it Day by Day) from a Seattle TV program called New Day. The segment focuses on Dyson Kilodavis, a young boy who likes to dress up like a princess, and how his family and school has reacted to his gender non-conformity, and does so in a way that seems quite thoughtful (sorry for the short ad intro):

I think it’s an interesting example of how gender non-conformity among kids affects families. At 4 years old, Dyson seemed pretty comfortable dressing up openly in “girls'” clothes; it was his mom who initially had some concerns and tried to channel his interest in dressing up into more “boyish” forms. Parents often express concern about gender non-conformity among children (and as the host says, much more when it comes from sons than from daughters) for a range of reasons — concern that they somehow failed as parents, that others will judge their parenting skills, or fears that their child will be harassed or threatened as a result.

The video also highlights how much the social environment can affect how gender non-conformity impacts families. In this case, Dyson appears to have the great luck to go to a school where the staff actively took on the role of normalizing Dyson’s behavior and attempted, as much as they could, to ensure that he wasn’t mocked. Contrast the experience of Dyson’s family with the family of a 4-year-old boy kicked out of school in Texas because of the length of his hair.

Cross-posted at Jezebel.

Today I have for you a round-up of ads that reinforce gendered expectations about parenting/housework — that women are predominantly responsible for them, and that moms and dads do them differently. Jennifer Thomas sent in this image from Target’s Fall 2010 coupon booklet:

She points out a couple of things. First, apparently moms buy things only for their daughters and dads buy things only for their sons. But even more interesting is what’s inside the baskets. Jennifer sums it up well:

Aside from a lamp and a soft doll, Mom’s basket…contains only domestic and “nurturing” items: detergent for baby’s delicate little clothing, diapers, infant medicine, and what looks like various cleaning sprays.  Based on the contents of her basket, Mom’s role here is to care for and clean up after the child.  Now take a look at Dad’s basket! I do see two bottles stuck in there [and maybe a blanket?], but more prominently displayed are chips, ice cream, and toys like a guitar and plastic golf clubs. If I had my choice based solely on this picture, I’d much rather be a dad than a mom!

Casey F. sent in an ad for the website Food on the Table, a shopping app, that clearly depicts moms as a family’s shopper:

And Eve P. and Kyle H. let us know about Amazon’s new Amazon Mom program:

Kyle was invited to join because he’d been busy ordering lots of stuff for his new child. Interestingly, despite its name, Amazon stresses that the program is for all parents and caregivers. Here’s a partial screenshot of the info page:

Part of the text:

Amazon Mom is open to anyone who is responsible for caring for a baby or young child–“Amazon Primary Caregiver” just didn’t have the same ring to it. Kidding aside, we chose this name because we noticed moms in social communities (like our Amazon discussion boards) looking to connect and share information about products and problems with other moms. We wanted a name that would let these groups know that this program was created with their unique needs in mind.

I suppose they’re right, “Amazon Primary Caregiver” is a mouthful. But what I find interesting is the way we accept the conflation of “parent” or “caregiver” with “mom” in a way that we don’t do with “dad.”

Finally, Kate H. sent in this Clorox ad, which reinforces the idea that women clean while men (are often incompetent fools who) need cleaned up after:

Leigh K., however, found an exception. A recent IKEA catalog included a number of images of men caring for both male and female children. This first one somewhat reinforces the “men can’t parent unsupervised!” trope, what with the kid on the left drawing on the door. Reader Elena says that’s probably meant to be a door painted with the chalkboard paint so it’s totally ok, and I do recall seeing a couple of other pages with kids using chalk, so nevermind my point there:

These two dads seem capable of parenting without any clear signs of disaster:

Leigh suggests that the images of involved, competent fatherhood might be the result of IKEA being a Swedish company. It’s possible that there’s an intentional ideological effort here to present men as caretakers (there is also at least one image of boys and girls playing with toys usually associated with the other gender). But also, IKEA markets itself as a somewhat youthful, hip brand, and showing non-traditional gender roles may fit well with that marketing strategy regardless of whatever larger social commitments to gender equality anyone at the company may or may not have. Whatever the reason behind it, the catalog — from a very large, profitable business (that apparently pays very little in taxes) — indicates that at least some companies think you can choose not to reinforce gendered parenting stereotypes and still manage to sell stuff.