Thursday, May 23, 2013

A conversation out of the blue

The boys were sitting at the table this evening, enjoying a bit of dessert, when out of the blue:

Sam: Girls can come to our house but not in our room.

Wil: They can't play with our Angry Birds.

Sam: We should put them in our room so they won't play with them.

Wil: Yeah.

No girls allowed zone

I'm not sure where the conversation came from, but it was interesting.

First, I'm glad they solved the problem on their own of what to do with toys they didn't want to share. Thinking about what would upset them and how to prevent that from happening takes a little foresight. Next week it might be a different toy, but they now have a solution that they came up with.

Second, I'm glad they are agreed girls can come over to play. They are at an age where girl and boy are suddenly becoming an issue. Wil refuses to go in the 'girl' aisles at the store, even though some of this favorite toys, like My Little Pony, are there. There's recognition of girls as people, and people who might be interesting and fun, in being agreeable to having girls over. Hopefully they'll just recognize friends without worrying about if they are girls or boys in a few years.

Third, I almost laughed thinking of implementing a rule like this in a few years when they are teenagers. Digging this post up when they're older could be loads of fun.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The trouble for boys with Merida's makeover

You may have heard about Disney giving Merida a makeover as part of her coronation into the ranks of Disney princesses. There's been a lot of backlash.

Most of the backlash I've seen is along the lines of the sentiments expressed in this Huffington Post article which highlights a petition against the makeover.

Did you notice anything about the outrage expressed in these?


Did you notice that boys are noticeably absent?

I did. Trust me, I know that girls' self image is important. I know the changes give girls a bad message.

But I'm the mother of boys. I'm the mother of boys who like Brave. I'm the mother of boys who play with girls, go to school with girls, have to interact with girls.

And I'm the mother of boys whom I am trying to raise to respect girls as strong, capable individuals.

I'm trying to do my part to stop the cycle of rape culture and patriarchy.

Those are things that can't happen if our focus is solely on how girls perceive themselves. It's absolutely important that girls think of themselves as strong, but boys have to recognize that too or we're stuck in the same cycle.

My little bronies
Boys need to learn that "girl" doesn't equal inferior or bad. If our girls are learning that they are meant to be pretty decorations, to give meaning to boys, what are our boys learning? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

TedXBloomington 2013 recap

Back in March I attended TedXBloomington. As always, there were many great speakers. Videos of the talks are showing up on YouTube, so I thought I'd collect the links here for reference.

First session: Transform
Laurie Burns McRobbie talked about using "Technology for Social Good" by introducing her project, ServeIT, a collaboration of SPEA and Informatics students helping local non-profits. I love that the students are getting real world experience in their fields while also helping groups who really need their skills but don't have the budgets for dedicated IT.

Brad Wheeler talked about solving a $5B problem of university software systems in a talk called "The Marketecture of Community".

Bob Einterz presented "A Case Study in Global Health". He is co-founder of AMPATH, which helps deliver health care services in Kenya.

Larry Singell gave us an idea of  "Who Becomes a Leader?". This particular talk resonated with me, although maybe not in the way he intended. Not being the best is ok and can even be an advantage. And I really needed to hear that message. Take the 12 minutes and listen to this talk.

Second session: Reimagine
Marlys Witte introduced "A Curriculum on Medical Ignorance". Ignorance University is a part of the curriculum at the University of Arizona Medical School. Great idea! Admitting what we don't know is the first step to true knowledge.

 Darryl Neher opened up about his own journey in a talk about depression: "We Need to Talk about Depression".

Denny Morrison talked bluntly about mental health because there's "No Health Without Mental Health".

Drew Ramsey, speaking just before lunch, gave us all "A Brain Food Prescription from the Farmacy".

Third session: Act
Streamline Free Running demonstrated some of their moves in a "Demonstration of Parkour". I think the best message in this was the few times one of the athletes fell and got back up. The fall wasn't important. The attempt was.

Malke Rosenfeld helped us "Jump Into Math!", demonstrating the connection between dance patterns and math.

Emily Ward introduced us to "Women With Will", a group of women who run, bike or swim together every week.

Cameray Boyden gave a talk called "A Journey in My Jordans", her personal story from an inner city neighborhood to the halls of IU and her project creating the West Indianapolis Peace Park. Go watch it.

Eric Deggans gave us a primer on "How to Talk about Race". Great talk. Good way to open the conversation.

Debby Herbenick introduced her new project, "Make Sex Normal", an effort to remove stigma and, well, make sex normal.

Daniel Evans talked about creating a space for artists, "I Fell".

Fourth session: Envision
Saya Hillman showed us "How to Design a Life of Yes". She turned doing what she enjoyed into a profession and now helps others challenge themselves.

Katy Borner showed us "Maps & Macroscopes", maps of data. This was particularly interesting to me because this is the sort of thing I want to do.

Kelly McBride talked about bringing Krampus Night and other events she has brought to Bloomington in a talk entitled "Want It? Make It Happen", challenging us to go out and do rather than wait.

Ryan Germick wrapped up the day with his story: "How I Became a Google Doodler". If you like Google Doodles, you'll like this look at one of the team that makes them happen.