Elana Sztokman's JewFem blog

Elana Maryles Sztokman, PhD, writer, researcher, educator and activist, writing on issues pertaining to gender and Jewish life in Israel and around the world.

Mothering daughters, mothering sons

My seven year old son is obsessed with Star Wars. I don’t know how it happened, and frankly, I don’t understand the attraction myself. But I suppose I have encouraged him, much the way I encourage all of my children’s hobbies, interests and fixations – short of hurting another person. And yet, the other day, as he watched the Empire Strikes Backfor the zillionth time, I looked around our house, at the different creations of my son and my daughters, and I couldn’t help notice how “gendered” it all was, despite myself. My son with the sticks, the wood, hoards of cardboard boxes and rocks around his room and around the yard, plus all the Luke Skywalker and Spiderman paraphernalia that I can’t even remember buying him (when did I become that commercial?). Then I look at my daughters’ room, with the drawings, clay, hairpieces and dolls. For sure they both have lots of books and games – although my son prefers books on snakes and spiders. And their rooms are all equally messy, and it is an equal struggle to get my children to pick up after themselves. Nonetheless, the differences in their play habits are very striking.

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