wrestling with gender

Gender is a social construction. We create gender through our interactions with each other. It’s not that biology plays no role. It’s just that the ways we respond to biology create our socially constructed realities. That said, it’s become more clear to me lately how differently boys and girls are from the earliest ages.

Our six year old daughter began school in September. Until that time almost all of her play had been with girls or with very small groups of boys and girls in very gentle settings. It seems she is by “nature” (as much as a role that plays) a quiet, careful, and sensitive child. She always has been, from the time she burst into tears at my shocked squawk when she bit my nipple. (Her sister, on the other hand, has several times heard the same squawk and just looked at me and laughed!) Now that she’s in school my older daughter has been experiencing a lot more rough-and-tumble play thanks in great part to two boys.

Today I found myself more grateful than ever for my husband. Why? Because he seems to have a clue what to do when she says, “Let’s wrestle!” I haven’t confirmed, but I suspect he’d prefer sitting on the couch reading with her just as I would. But once I get past a playful tickle tustle, I’m flat worn out of the “wrestling” stuff. He really seemed to get it in a way I just couldn’t. The two of them played for several minutes at a time throughout the day, “wrestling.” She’s clearly processing the whole new world of body slams, running smashes, and karate kicks. It makes sense she’d want to get some new skills, new (self-defense!) moves even.

I’m delighted she’s exploring all of it. I’m just more sure than ever I’m not the one she should go to when she wants to learn more about all that “boy stuff.” It’s a language I don’t understand. Thank all things Josh is here to share with her whatever it is that’s so fun and interesting about bashing into each other.

Boy, oh boy, I’m not a boy.

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