“In any case, Niss Moses (once again) raises a ruckus on this score, asking why we don’t have a corresponding word for young whiteys who play blackeys’ games and generally manifest a desire to be blacks. Well, Niss Moses, if this were a common phenomenon, we most assuredly would have such a word, but it happens not to be. ” — William Satire (alias Douglas Hofstadter), “A Person Paper on Purity in Language” Thighly enjoyed Douglas Hofstadter’s piece. Although I had never given any serious thought to the problem of sexism in English, I found myself strongly agreeing with many of his arguments.
In fact, I even became a bit angry and ashamed with myself for not recognizing some of the more blatant examples of sexism in the language. For example, I had not thought about the distinction between ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs. ‘ The change in title was something that a married woman did as part of tradition, but I never stopped to wonder why she made that change, or why there were multiple titles for women when men only used ‘Mr,’ or even how the tradition began.
The argument of tradition, as Hofstadter shows, is ridiculous because it could then be used as an excuse for a person to justify their harmful or insensitive behavior. In my case, I blindly accepted the tradition of ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ because they are terms commonly used in society, and a widely held tradition is difficult (though not impossible) to break. Another issue that Hofstadter addressed in his satire revolved around the use of the word “tomboy. ” A ‘tomboy’ is a girl who enjoys activities that have traditionally been associated with boys.
Being a ‘tomboy’ is acceptable, but only for pre-pubescent girls. It is a stage that a girl is supposed to grow out of when she becomes older and assumes her prescribed role as wife and mother. However, there is no corresponding word for a boy who enjoys activities that have traditionally been associated with girls. The satire piece explains that it is not a common phenomenon for boys to manifest a desire to be girls; therefore, there is no word to describe the few who have this desire.
I think the word does not exist because our society has v st because our society has very strict notions of masculinity, and boys who prefer girl toys, clothing, and activities go against those notions and should not be acknowledged. They are giving up their maleness, their position of authority, in order to take on a weaker, lesser role — the role of a female. Part II: Application I grew up with two older brothers. When we were kids, we would all play with action figures, Nerf guns, and Star Wars Micro Machine sets. I had other toys as well, like Barbie, Polly Pocket, and Beanie Babies, but my brothers didn’t play with these toys.
My parents hadn’t specifically told my brothers that they couldn’t play with my “girl toys,” however, there seemed to be some unspoken rule that Barbie was off limits. We learned the unspoken rule, I think, from our many excursions to Toys “R” Us. At the store, the girls’ aisle would be cloaked in pinks and purples, and the boys’ aisle would be in blues and blacks. The color scheme helped to show which toys were appropriate for each gender (because, obviously, all girls loved pink, and boys loved black).
But as a girl, I seemed to have a pass that allowed me to play with both types of toys. My brothers, though, did not. In his satire, Hofstadter acknowledges that there is no corresponding word for ‘tomboy,’ and that it is uncommon for boys to want to play girls’ games. This belief has always been false, and I think the current marketing for toys is finally taking the steps to break gender stereotypes. In a new commercial for Moschino Barbie, a young boy is seen playing with the doll along with his two female friends.
At the end, the boys winks and says, “Moschino Barbie is so fierce! There has been a lot of praise for this ad, with people tweeting #eliminategendernorms in support of the message. In August, Target announced that it would be removing all gendered labeling from many of its aisles. Some wondered why this was necessary, but I agree with Target’s bold move. Initially, children don’t pick a toy because it is for girls or boys; they pick it because they like it. Society dictates which gender can play with which toy, as well as which interests are appropriate for each gender.
An article on TIME. com addresses Target’s decision, “We need to tell ourselves that “girl” and “boy” interests do not exist. Every child is an individual, and we have a duty to find out who each and every one of them is instead of lumping children into categories before they can speak for themselves. ” Although the Barbie commercial and Target’s decision to remove gendered labeling are small changes, I think they will provoke other companies to eventually do the same. There may not be a word for a boy who likes to play girls’ games, and there doesn’t have to be one. We could simply call these kids “boys” and “girls. “