Gender Neutral Parenting: Raising kids with the freedom to be themselves Paperback – 28 Oct 2013
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One section "how to deal with people who gender your kids" - the title is almost confrontational - why not call it HOW TO HELP, not deal with?
It's worth pointing out that this book contains multiple coloured diagrams and images that are completely illegible due to the greyscale printing, the kerning and formatting are awful and the book is littered with useless hyperlinks. But that isn't why this book is awful.
The book starts with a long rant about gender not being the same as genitals... So far so good, (Sort of? She uses the word 'transgendered' but everyone makes mistakes, right?) but then draws a diagram showing that gender is not a binary with 'man', 'transgender' and 'woman'. Which is horrible, transphobic and degendering - and is particularly shocking in a book that claims to be aimed at parents of trans children. (It is clear that all parents reading the book are expected to be cis, straight, middle-class and able bodied.)
The book is divided into 'how to raise girls' and 'how to raise boys', which is not particularly gender neutral. The chapter on girls suggests ways of interrogating your daughter about her desire for pink clothes, three pages about hymens (that repeatedly refers to everyone who has one as a girl - WOW so glad we had that rant about gender not being the same as genitals!) and How To Talk To Your Daughter About Princesses.
The 'boy' chapter, on the other hand, suggests discussing careers and the way media portrays men. No, I'm not joking. For a supposedly feminist book, this is really base-level boring, thoughtless sexism. But it's in every single line, from "saying 'boys will be boys' shames your son for his gender!" (no) to "show your daughter pictures of vulvas so she's comfortable with her body". There is absolutely no overlap in the subject matter the author covers for boys and girls in a way that can't be taken as anything other than sexist, gender-essentialist and disgusting.
The author winds down with "Let your house be a place where there is no gender binary." Except??? She literally wrote a whole book advocating treating your children differently according to the what gender they're assigned at birth??
I would love to read about gender neutral parenting. Unfortunately, this book is not even on the same planet as gender neutrality, feminism or even common sense. This book was an insensitive, upsetting, offensive waste of time and money, and I absolutely do not recommend it.
I would recommend this book highly as a practical and gentle introduction to gender neutral parenting. The only criticism that I have is the recurring dichotomy between 'gender-neutral' and 'traditional' parenting. What we are seeing in western society today is something quite different from 'traditional' parenting. We are seeing an almost unprecedented attempt to impose extreme gender categories upon all children through a commercial sector determined to make it impossible for parents to be able to buy a single item to be shared by children of both sexes. This is compounded by a backlash against feminism and the acceptance of homosexuality, both of which are manifested by adults looking for security by making female children into fantasy-1950s housewives, vain and helpless; and prohibiting 'feminine' behaviour in boys. I would like to have seen a chapter after the first one that really got to grips with this, so that parents will understand that the problem comes not from tradition, but from something far more modern and alienating. Parents need to understand that western capitalism is deliberately destructive of their children's independence and individuality in order to fashion them into consumers and passive, not critical, citizens. This is what is being addressed by gender-neutral parenting strategies, not 'tradition'. If parents were able to grasp this, they might feel far more comfortable with challenging the status quo than they would if they felt that what they were challenging was good old-fashioned parenting. Needless to say, gendered marketing tries very hard to give consumers the latter impression and a lot of people fall for it.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The biggest problem about the book what the many spelling and grammatical mistakes that I noticed as I read it. That was pretty disappointing.
I liked that it wasn't preachy. It offers ideas and is quite open-ended. I will be reflecting on this often I feel.
Highly recommend this to any person. It is not just for parents but relatives, people working with children or marketing to children.