Feminism, pronouns and arts and crafts

We had a tragic accident at our house recently.

Train engineers the size of wine corks (where is my mind?!) tend to escape my 1st pass of throw-various-toys-into-various-boxes-so-I-can-walk-on-level-ground-in-my-own-home. So J’s esteemed engineer was marooned on our floor, only to be crunched under one of our giant feet. It was a grisly injury to be sure, but I felt confident in my skills once I found where the head had rolled off to.

As I was holding the head in place for the 3rd time, cursing myself for not having the patience to let the glue set, I had an idea. And as I tried unsuccessfully to peel the ripply crust of superglue off of my fingers, I decided that this was the best idea I had ever conceived.

You see, I’ve been having a daily battle in my mind, since J was very young. It is a battle with pronouns. I started to resent his children’s books, which were so casually saturated with male characters. Male humans. Male trucks. Male ducks. I decided that I could provide some strategic revisions to his stories, replacing the “he” and “his” with “she” and “hers.” And any resistance I got in the form of, “But that’s a boy, Momma,” I would just quash with my explanation of how some boys have long hair and wear dresses and some girls have short hair and wear dungarees.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I started to hear my own thoughts, and how dominant and automatic the “he” was. So I started “she-ing” birds we saw, and garbage collectors and worms.

Naturally, I had to “she” the engineer.

I had some internal criticism with myself over whether the haircut was too girly, but ultimately decided that I wanted anyone else playing with the toy to see that it was an engineer lady, so I went with the fringe-y bangs and bob.

I must say, the result has thrilled me. Every time J is padding through our house saying “My engineer, where is she?” I feel a warm, relaxing tingle in my belly.  Because more than wanting J to know that women can be engineers and that girls can play trucks, I want him to just see those things as a casual matter of fact.

And I make sure of it by giving human action figures the Sharpie treatment the moment they cross our threshold.

11 thoughts on “Feminism, pronouns and arts and crafts

  1. Omigawsh ~ I LOVE you for this! I do this w/ my daughter. I’ve even gone through some of her books and changed words ~ esp when she was younger and we’d read the same ones over and over. You ROCK!!!

  2. I love this! I do the same pronoun switching when I’m reading to Samantha. I’ll have to wait until she stops sticking everything in her mouth before I break out the Sharpie though.

  3. Now that’s some arts and crafts I can get behind! What I loved about changing every, single pronoun my kids came across was how much it really brought home the male-centricness (not a word, but I’m going with it) of what they consume. Now my kids refer to the the ‘green man’ (crossing ‘guy’) as the ‘green woman’ and it still jars even my ears in its utter weirdness. And, blimey, it’s great!
    Top tip: invest in Playmobil: all you have to do is switch hair – no toxic implements required!

  4. I love that you just blogged about this, because last night at a preschool meeting one of the moms gave a five-minute presentation about “sheing” kids’ books. She did a great presentation about just casually making, say, Corduroy the bear a girl, and then she apparently told her kid that a very scruffy male character in a book was actually a mom because the girl had two moms (and her daughter bought it hook, line, and sinker). She ended with showing In The Night Kitchen, which doesn’t work because Mickey’s penis is revealed at the end, so you can’t really say Mickey is a girl…! Anyway, I love it, and I am resolved to start making more efforts to she my kid’s world.

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