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Drawn Off Topic

Gordie Johnson on children and gender roles Add to ...

Gordie Johnson performs with his band Big Sugar at Whiskey Rocks: A Celebration of Music and Whiskey at the Mod Club in Toronto on Oct. 20. The band also performs at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on Oct. 21 and 22.

Do you have children?

My kids are 10, 7 and 2.

In Toronto recently, a couple announced they would be raising their new baby, Storm, for a time, free from gender. What do you think?

Oh, how to not sound like a complete redneck … I think it is ludicrous! What do these people do for a living? What qualifies them to make this call? When my kids get sick, I take them to a “doc-tor.” I don’t need them to tell me it’s a penis or a vagina. I think nature has decided that for you.

The idea is that assigned gender roles and expectations are imposed by society and can affect development beyond nature.

Any well-meaning parent may not be wanting their children to play with violent or gun-related toys. I swore my kid wouldn’t play with gun toys, but they make guns out of Lego or find a broom or old hockey stick and chase each other around the yard going, “Bang, bang.” They’ll throw spears. I’m not teaching my son “Here is how you throw a spear,” [but] that’s what they want to do.

Little girls will go out and play with their brothers all afternoon, but at some point they’re just gong to want to sit down and play with dollies. Not because I make them do that, or advise that – that’s what little girls gravitate toward.

If my daughter wanted to throw a football, she is welcome to. But to make a child an experiment … How about feeding them only organic food as an experiment?

The theory is that socialization begins at birth, pink blanket or blue, and the expectations that follow from that. They’re trying to free their child from that.

You throw a pile of toys on the floor with four-year-olds in the room; if it’s a boy, he’s going to gravitate toward boy sorts of things, not because you say so but because – guess what, folks? – boys and girls are different. They’ve got different chemicals, different apparatus. They’re different! Celebrate that.

I’m all for not pressuring kids. If my guy doesn’t want to play football, I’m happy to not have him play football. If my daughter doesn’t want to play team sports, fine, take ballet if she wants to. I’m all for being a supportive parent.

By insisting on a gender-neutral upbringing, you are insisting on something. It is the same as insisting that boys be masculine and insisting that girls be feminine. “No, that’s not for you, you’re a girl.” It amounts to the same thing if you are enforcing some set of standards on a child. It is vain foolishness to think you can supersede nature.

In a related development, in a preschool in Sweden, they have eliminated the use of the gender-based pronouns “he” and “she” and replaced them with a gender-neutral one. Do you see value in that?

All these intelligent people, there’s just got to be more important things to tackle.

Well, they are educators and are challenging that status quo.

There are better things to fixate on than the mundanity of the he/she pronoun.

They’re trying to break free from gender stereotyping or gender-prescribed roles and behaviours, and the thinking is that it begins with a pronoun.

Well, are you going to find a better word for apple because an “apple” is too specifically associated with fruit? Or should we find a better word for orange? After all, is “orange” a colour or a fruit? Are we going to debate this? I find the whole thing foolish. (Oops, my necks getting redder by the minute!)

French or Spanish and other languages – their entire language is based on feminine, masculine, neutral structure. It’s just a language. I don’t think it dooms anybody to a life of misery because they have a penis and they call you “he.” Come on!

Does the whole situation smack of mind control?

I’d be hauling my kid out of that school. My kid is not going to be part of somebody’s experiment.

Can you see this happening in Texas by the time your two-year-old gets into preschool?

I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen where I live [near Austin]! My kids go to a pretty progressive school. All the kids are given the same opportunities. Boys and girls experience their education, but they have separate bathrooms and I’m okay with that.

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