Thorny Knits

I've got a husband, twin toddlers, a cat who I probably forgot to feed this morning, and never, ever enough time to knit.


Thorny does stuff besides knitting...

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I think I'm going to take this blog in a bit of a different direction.

See, lately I've been getting all uppity and Missy Feministy with myself (reading a lot of Feministing lately, among other things). I've also been doing a bunch of other things, and I'm realizing that I just don't compartmentalize well. I'm more of an all-or-nothing kinda gal.

Which means either folks reading my blog get the whole long-winded, chatty package, or you get the occasional anemic update with earnest-but-doomed promises to post up pictures soon.

So I'm going to be making some changes to the template and that kind of thing, to reflect some of the branching out I'll be doing as far as subject matter on this here blog o' mine. But, in a gesture of "walking my talk", I'd like to begin with this:

I recently came across a bit of a mention of how Geena Davis has founded a group called See Jane, which is looking into children's media programming and gender stereotypes and representations within it. If you've got time, you should check out their research, because it's... well, it's kind of shocking. Things like how 72% of speaking characters in 101 G-rated movies (live action and animated) are male. How even in crowd scenes, male faces outnumber female faces by almost 3 to 1.

And I read about that and went, "Well heck, no wonder boys grow up thinking girls don't have anything interesting to say and that girls' stories aren't worth paying attention to."

Which is something that had been kind of percolating in my brain anyway. See, we wound up picking up a little series of books for the boys a while back - there are like 4 or 5 books, and they're all about a different animal. "I love my bunny because..." and a cat, a dog, a duckling.... Okay, I guess there are four books. And the thing is the only female animal in this whole group is, of course, the cat.

Which is kind of ridiculous, because none of these animals are presented in any way that requires gendering. And yet all the animals apart from the cat are presented as boys. These animals aren't even given names, here. No Fido, no Patches, no Squeaker, nothing. And yet they're all male creatures.

So even before I found out about the marvelous See Jane, I was doing things like making sure to read these books with alternating pronouns. One time I'd read it as female, the next time as male, back and forth. And since my boys are still in the stage where they want the same books read 50 times a day, it's been fairly easy to do. I also, in a moment of Indignant Scientific Accuracy, refused to read a book about a bumble bee as written, as if the hard-working, honey-making bee in the book was male. As we all know, the bees which make the honey are female, and damned if I was going to let the male bees take all the credit just because some author was lazy.

But now that I know about See Jane? Well, I'm getting more diligent about it. There were the few things that really caught my attention, but there were lots of other things that I just didn't pay any mind of. I'm trying to fix that. Especially when it comes to the animal world - there's no reason for my kids to watch their favorite Baby Einstein DVD thinking that every creature shown is male. It's ludicrous. Of course not all the animals are male. Heck, some are rather demonstrably NOT male, like the cows, for example. So when we sit and watch and talk about the animals, an awful lot of them I'm labeling as female.

I can't change what human faces directors of children's movies put into their work. Well, I can't change the ones that are already sitting on my DVD shelf (I'll be joining See Jane in encouraging directors to make the faces in their movies more reflective of reality, though). I can change how many of those stories my kids see, however, and I'm going to be watching things a lot more carefully from now on.

Will it do any good? I don't know. But I figure it can't hurt.

A year ago, my mom was visiting for the boys' first birthday, and one of them fell and whanged his head hard enough to cry over. And my mom, I kid you not, told him that boys don't cry, and he needed to calm down. I about exploded. Instead I managed to tell her that wasn't the way we did things in my home, and we kind of went on from there.

But I found it pretty ironic. On the one hand, she's always carrying on about how men her age are so "emotionally stunted", and then on the other hand, she's doing her part in trying to stunt the next generation.

Oh, which reminds me - I've got to go sneak this book out of the kids' circulation. I have no idea where it came from, but I know it got hidden once before and must have gotten unearthed in all of the moving. The last day or so the kids have been all about it, and when I read it last night and found myself carrying on past the last page, saying things like, "Mommies are for organizing peace rallies. Mommies are for splashing in the mud. Mommies can start camp fires with one match. Mommies can be heartless cold-blooded corporate lawyers..." I knew the book needed to go.

Also, anyone have any suggestions for a book that talks more about what actual mamas are about? Because I tell ya, that book just sets my teeth on edge.


  • At Mon Jun 26, 03:32:00 PM CDT, Blogger strangelittlemama said…

    I love The Mommy Book by Todd Parr. Fer reals.

  • At Mon Jun 26, 03:46:00 PM CDT, Blogger meg said…

    Why not make your own? Like, find magazine photos of women doing all kinds of different things and write up your own "mommies are for..." narrative underneath.

  • At Mon Jun 26, 04:24:00 PM CDT, Blogger FemiKnitMafia said…

    I was going to suggest The Mommy Book by Todd Parr too. In fact, while you're at it, pick up The Family Book too. It's about all different kinds of families. I'm thinking that my pal Todd is a big homo - lives in San Fran with his dog named Butch. Yeah. And yet his books are piled up at every American B&N and Borders. Hooray!

    Love the direction for the blog. And love this topic. It's a big issue in our house.

  • At Sat Jul 01, 02:30:00 AM CDT, Blogger kt said…

    Oooh, I love your additions to the stale "mommy" descriptions. I think we have one or two better-descriptive books somewhere in my girlies room, but you'll have to wait until we dig it out tomorrow for titles.

    And I agree, write one! I like Meg's idea of clipping photos, and how about letting the kids help you come up with ideas and then illustrating it? We've written a number of our own books (my favorite was about when we couldn't find the cat--we did, eventually) and they've become great time-capsules.


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