This feminist blogging business can be a bit soul-destroying at times. So I'm going to take a self-indulgent ramble through a topic that never fails to cheer me up: my kids.
Being austere (pro)feminist leftie types, my partner and I have tried to raise our kids to be accepting of diverse gender identities. With my daughter M, now seven, it was straightforward enough. She's immersed in the same pink hideousness as most of her small female colleagues; but she'll just as happily turn to a kids' book about physics or maths, not realising these have traditionally been areas of male accomplishment. Maybe those divisive days are gone, and she'll move freely between My Little Pony and calculus all her life (although I hope she'll grow out of MLP sooner rather than later).
And then there's Boy. Nearly three, Boy has been difficult since the moment of conception. Relentlessly loud and boisterous, Boy is just so darn boyish. Despite having had the same upbringing as his sister, Boy has gravitated to stereotypically male things since he was old enough to gravitate. He loves cars and balls and mud and being loud. He's a bundle of irrepressible physical energy, jumping on the couch and throwing stuff. Every now and again he feels the urge to pull my hair or dig his wee fingernails into my face. (I'm sporting a scratch on one cheek, and the dorky-looking one on the tip of my nose has only just healed.) Boy truly doesn't have a malicious bone in his little body - he just seems to get flesh-gougingly excited about life from time to time.
I've stopped pondering the nature vs nurture debate, because it doesn't shed much light on what I should actually do as a feminist parent, trying to raise my kids with a certain set of values. Here's what I've concluded. There's nothing wrong with being a rough-and-tumble, full of beans, loud little boy. What would be mistaken would be thinking this is the only way a boy ought to behave, that there's something 'wrong' with the boy who isn't noisy and physical, that it's always appropriate to be boisterous, or that the things girls stereotypically do are in some way inferior to boys' activities.
I guess I'm trying to raise a Renaissance Boy. We spend time jumping in puddles and playing raucous games together, but we also do a fair bit of reading and jigsaw puzzling. Just this morning, I found the little guy singing 'Forest of Feelings' from the Care Bears movie, very earnestly, to the television. He'll yell angrily when his sister refuses to share her Polly Pocket dolls with him. Perhaps best of all, when he's inflicted a particularly deep gouge on my face, he can be relied on to give me a sheepish hug. And whether nature or nurture served up that crazy little personality, I continue to love Boy with all the partial intensity that only a mother wearing rose-tinted spectacles over her one eye can muster.