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  1. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 17, 2007 at 1:05 am |

    Thanks a lot, flea — now I got to have a fight with my husband over a book that neither one of us has read.

    (Apparently there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over this one on the book blogs, but it was the first I’d heard of it, so my arguments were dull and worn out to him.)

  2. Flea
    Flea May 17, 2007 at 1:20 am |

    I understand where a lot of the hand-wringing is coming from, but honestly, it’s really top notch. There are so many projects in here to keep kids busy, you’ve got weeks worth of stuff to work with. Most of the instructions are clear, and it has a very well-rounded, liberal arts approach w/r/t literature, history, science, etc. It does have a “This is not for you” attitude toward girls, but if there are any little girls out there who were like me, they’ll ignore it and get out of it what they find interesting and useful.

    They are coming out with a Dangerous Book for Girls, but so far it seems kind of lame.

    What should go in the girls’ book?

    *Baking a brownie under a light bulb

    *eavesdropping on your sister and her boyfriend using a water glass

    *drawing ballpoint pen nipples on Barbie and making Ken have sex with her in the back seat of her pink convertible? (Or Skipper can do it, if you’re so inclined.)

  3. ilyka
    ilyka May 17, 2007 at 1:28 am |

    Internet, tell me this is not true.

    It is not true. I have to learn by doing myself. And if my man ever pulls that kind of nonsense with me, it will be the last he sees of his grabby hands.

    This book sounds like great fun, apart from the gender essentialism. I want to learn to tie a reef knot.

  4. Allie
    Allie May 17, 2007 at 1:39 am |

    I had a Klutz Press book called something about mischief when I was a kid, which taught things like paper airplanes/helicopters/UFOs, rube goldberg marble tracks, and how to tail your sister without getting caught. It was freaking awesome. These are essential skills for any kid.

    Also, I can’t do jack just by watching. Sometimes I can’t even learn things by watching and doing, but just watching is a surefire way to make sure I forget the first steps by the time I get a shot at it myself. I think Steve just wanted the fun of the waterbomb all to himself, or else couldn’t bear to watch you goof up while you figured it out. Patience is a virtue.

  5. hipparchia
    hipparchia May 17, 2007 at 1:42 am |

    a fun review to read! i loved doing “boy” stuff when i was a kid [still do].

    being the model spinster aunt that i am, i will definitely take a look at this book since you were kind enough to tell us about it, and if it looks to anti-grrrl to suit me, will buy it and keep it stashed away for ideas to entertain the nieces and nephews when called upon.

  6. sophonisba
    sophonisba May 17, 2007 at 3:23 am |

    It does have a “This is not for you” attitude toward girls, but if there are any little girls out there who were like me, they’ll ignore it and get out of it what they find interesting and useful.

    And for those girls who do not have the good fortune to be like you, and who have not yet developed the ability to selectively ignore contempt directed at them?

    It does have a “This is not for you” attitude toward girls

    Yeah. Yeah it does. That is a really big fucking deal.

    Blithely imagining that girls won’t notice or care about this exclusionary sexist shit if they’re strong enough, or curious enough, or enough like you, or whatever, is yet another way to train them to understand that they can have fun OR respect. Intellectual curiosity OR an acknowledgment of their existence. Be humans OR girls.

    I do wonder if the fact that girls don’t very often have a mentor who will show them how to make a water bomb or a battery or a paper boat, and the assumption from the get-go is that there’s no point in showing girls how to do any of that stuff because they won’t like it, causes us to create a bit of our own reality that has nothing to do with “hardwiring” and every bit to do with cultural expectations.

    Yeah. Me, I wonder if maybe gravity works. I also wonder if there might be something to this theory of evolution business.

  7. Adnan Y.
    Adnan Y. May 17, 2007 at 4:09 am |

    When I first saw the name of the book, I instantly thought of Enid Blyton. The manner in which the book was written, and the title itself, have 1950s vibe to them, and I think that’s what the authors were after. Even if they have a “flippin ‘ell lads, it’s the girls! Attack!!” attitude.

    That said, the first I thought when I read through the book (yes I bought it) is that when kids enter my life, I am so sharing this with my future daughter.

  8. Mostly Normal
    Mostly Normal May 17, 2007 at 5:19 am |

    That said, the first I thought when I read through the book (yes I bought it) is that when kids enter my life, I am so sharing this with my future daughter.

    I wouldn’t, unless the title were changed. Because the title really sucks and sends a clear message about who gets to have fun with all sorts of creative, intellectually engaging activities, and who doesn’t.

    Flea your review is excellent and the book sounds like a lot of fun, but I agree with sophonisba that if you as a young girl could have overlooked the clear message on this cover–FOR BOYS ONLY–and had fun with it anyway, you are not typical of most young girls. Or their parents.

  9. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite May 17, 2007 at 6:01 am |

    I wouldn’t, unless the title were changed. Because the title really sucks and sends a clear message about who gets to have fun with all sorts of creative, intellectually engaging activities, and who doesn’t.

    Yeah. I’m going to check out the book in the bookstore, but I can’t really see buying it for my four-year-old. Because she’s just starting to get the message that certain things aren’t for her because she’s a girl, and as much as I and her mother try to undermine that, there’s only so much we can do in the face of the bombardment she’s getting from other places. When she’s a bit older she’ll be more armored, but for now I don’t want to send her mixed messages.

    And I don’t think anyone’s yet asked whether there’s a similar problem in giving the book to a boy of that age. If I had a son, I’d be worried about him behaving like an idiot at preschool if I were foisting this kind of smug exclusionist bullshit on him at home.

    It sounds like a great book. Sorry to hear it sucks.

  10. Joe
    Joe May 17, 2007 at 6:10 am |

    This book strikes me as that sort of false-nostalgic cruisading against the purported “feminization” of culture that’s ever so popular these days. I know that when I was a young boy I hated all that boyscout bullshit and would have greatly preferred watching some movies or reading a novel or something.

  11. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite May 17, 2007 at 6:10 am |

    as much as I and her mother try to undermine that, there’s only so much we can do in the face of the bombardment she’s getting from other places. When she’s a bit older she’ll be more armored, but for now I don’t want to send her mixed messages.

    Reading this over, it sounds like we’re a lot more embattled than we actually are. Our kid has only ever said that something wasn’t appropriate for her because she was a girl once or twice in my hearing. But keeping it that low has required a lot of vigilance, and there are several feminist moms at her preschool who are being driven batty by their daughters’ reactionary gender weirdness right now.

    Keeping kids from absorbing sexist attitudes is hard work. I wouldn’t drop a book like this into the mix casually.

  12. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 17, 2007 at 6:18 am |

    “Internet, tell me this is not true.”

    It is not true. I’ve had to train a lot of folks to do a lot of things–it would seem my patience with fellow-employees is greater than that of the average bear–and the best, most reliable thing I’ve found for helping people actually “get it” is: watch it done while the steps are explained -> do it together -> do it themselves under supervision.

    If you don’t have time for all three steps, doing it together is the best of the quickie versions. People just watching tends to leave them a little unclear on precisely what they should be doing, and they have to go through a bit of trial and error before they finally figure out for themselves what you were supposed to be teaching them. People just doing while being watched tends to make them nervous and not fully focused on what they’re doing.

  13. Blunderbuss
    Blunderbuss May 17, 2007 at 7:07 am |

    Then he said that out of 7 billion people on the planet, I am the only one who takes issue with his teaching methods. Internet, tell me this is not true.

    IT IS NOT TRUE.

    Man, I remember an after-school art class teacher I once had, who would literally pluck the paintbrush out of my hand and do alterations FOR ME.* I was only beginning my obession with art, and I glared at her back with the power of a thousand suns. Even now, my inner artist eyetwitches.

    It’s so. Goddamn. Rude.

  14. Angiportus
    Angiportus May 17, 2007 at 7:15 am |

    Add me to the list of people who gotta try it themselves–a few times–watching or listening isn’t enough [well, sometimes.] And Blunderbuss nailed it about this being a manners thing as well as inefficient. Although having the wheel grabbed when you are learning to drive might be needful to save a few lives…
    From the vaults of memory: “You want to learn something, try teaching it…”

  15. Angiportus
    Angiportus May 17, 2007 at 7:19 am |

    And telling someone they are the only person in the world who has a problem with something is also extremely rude, and can be very damaging if done to a child. It’s the same whether you say it in words or do it by over-startled reactions, making them feel like some sort of freak. Alice Miller I think it was called this “false isolation”. It needs to be rooted out. Flea, go ahead and call your husband on this one instanter.

  16. Holly
    Holly May 17, 2007 at 7:21 am |

    Yeah, it is totally not true, and I would probably stare in total disbelief at your husband if I were you, see above.

    Also, please keep smacking those Venus/Mars moms down. It’s all such unbelievably “parents foisting their weird gender issues on kids” bullshit and it’s practically a crime that it’s allowed to persist in this day and age.

  17. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom May 17, 2007 at 7:40 am |

    Three and a half hours? No shit? Three and a half hours?
    I was involved with youth athletics for, if I remember correctly, two practices and one game of soccer. That was when I figured out that, despite the primary coach having claimed it wasn’t necessary to know the actual rules of the game because there was a high-school student who’d be helping me with the coaching and blah blah blah, I was standing around in the hot sun trying to remember how you play soccer with very little knowledge of the rules. So I quit. I don’t really see the point of youth athletics for boys anyway; it just seems like a good way to get injured for no appreciable benefit.

  18. Holly
    Holly May 17, 2007 at 8:00 am |

    Also this:

    “I think we’ve come through the period when we said boys and girls were exactly the same, but they’re not. Boys and girls have different interests, different ways of learning, and there’s no real problem in writing a book that plays to that, and says, let’s celebrate it. Let’s go for a book that will appeal to boys.“

    As someone who used to work in the toy industry, there was a period when it was popular to say that boys and girls were exactly the same. It was in the 60s and 70s. Since then, the vogue has swung radically in the other direction. Just look at toys of the 80s, I probably don’t even need to give you the examples. Everything since that backlash has been packaged and labeled as BOY BOY BOY or GIRL GIRL GIRL to the extent that no kid who doesn’t want to be censured as a misfit could possibly ask for or express interest across the line.

    There was obviously some ideology in trying to insist that all kids are the same too, or that there are no differences between boys and girls at all, but we’ve gone WAY too far in the other direction. For the most part, entertainment and learning products for kids are as hopelessly gender-segregated as locker rooms, even though they don’t need to be, and a lot of kids are being shoehorned and pigeonholed in ways that may actually be harming them or at least stunting / force-channeling their interests and expression. It’s ALL about adult ideas of what kids want, and about fitting kids into molds, and in the case of consumer products, about having “target markets” to zero in on and sell like crazy to. This book is just one more example — the reason it’s garnering more attention than most is that it’s very overt about it.

  19. Lancastrian
    Lancastrian May 17, 2007 at 8:08 am |

    No one wants to use this book as a chance to teach their kids that yes, there is gender stereotyping in this world, but it’s wrong and anyone can has as much fun playing with knots, paper planes, and Latin as they like no matter what a book’s title is? I don’t think flea is recommending that you let these two dumb authors teach your kids gender roles, just that yes, they are part of this book, but there’s a lot of wonderful stuff too. You could always read it first and photocopy the activities you like instead of giving the whole book if you preferred. Borrow it from the library if you don’t want to fund them.

  20. Moira
    Moira May 17, 2007 at 8:37 am |

    flea, you’d be completely justified in, say, soaking all his underwear in water, tying them in knots, and sticking them in the freezer. It’s roughly the same level of maturity as he showed during the water bomb incident.

  21. Kat
    Kat May 17, 2007 at 8:55 am |

    And I don’t think anyone’s yet asked whether there’s a similar problem in giving the book to a boy of that age. If I had a son, I’d be worried about him behaving like an idiot at preschool if I were foisting this kind of smug exclusionist bullshit on him at home.

    I considered buying this book for my two boys. I’m still on the fence with it. Its got some great projects, and the nostalgia factor is really fun and I’d do pretty much anything to ignite their interest in anything other than video games, but I can’t get past the he-man-woman-haters-club mentality. The boys come home with all kinds of girls vs. boys drivel from school already, I wouldn’t want to reinforce that.

  22. Sally
    Sally May 17, 2007 at 8:58 am |

    Damnit. As a spinster aunt to an adorable nephew and a spinster-aunt-to-be to another, once he gets around to being born, I’m torn. Because I truly loved knot-tying, water-bomb-making type stuff as a kiddie, and I see it as my role, as a spinster aunt, to introduce the sprogs to various kinds of awesome naughtiness. But I don’t think I can endorse the sexism. Does it offset the sexism if you make the water bombs with your rather-girlie aunt?

    Maybe I will figure out a way to attach my own anti-sexist commentary to the book. Perhaps there are things that can be done with stickers and sharpies.

  23. rickydomingo
    rickydomingo May 17, 2007 at 9:08 am |

    Is the book genderized(is that a word?) throughout, including the instructions? Or just the cover and maybe the preface/forward? Because if it is just the cover that is exclusionary, then you can rebind it. Take off the cover and separate all the pages. Take it to Kinko’s or Staples or a like place, and have them ring bind it. A benefit of this will be that the book lays flat on the table/floor, and you can fold it in half. I would also suggest a laminated stock card cover to help preservation re: spills. This might seem like a big hassle, depending on how it’s bound, but it can be worth it. Especially for books that get a lot of use.

    If it is genderized throughout, then yeah I would hesitate to buy this for a boy or a girl.

  24. Marle
    Marle May 17, 2007 at 9:10 am |

    Brooklynite:

    Our kid has only ever said that something wasn’t appropriate for her because she was a girl once or twice in my hearing. But keeping it that low has required a lot of vigilance, and there are several feminist moms at her preschool who are being driven batty by their daughters’ reactionary gender weirdness right now.

    Wow. I don’t remember ever saying that as a kid, but I don’t really remember when I was 4. I remember my mom would say stuff like that, and it would always annoy me. I’m not sure what I’d do if when I have kids they’re big on gender roles. I’d probably want to mess with them by convincing them that boys do dishes and girls play videogames, but that might be mean.

  25. GreyLadyBast
    GreyLadyBast May 17, 2007 at 9:16 am |

    I, too, am a mom torn over buying this for my Boychilde. On the one hand, he brings home enough exclusionary gender-role shit from school, but on the other, he recently got grounded from all things electronic, so he needs alternative stuff to do. But I don’t want to spend money reinforcing this stuff, nor add another bad sexist influence I have to fight against. Then again, even once the kid gets his stuff back, he’s still facing drastically restricted time on them, and still needs alternative stuff to do. Plus, c’mon, waterbombs!

    *sigh* Why couldn’t they have just published a Dangerous Book for KIDS and reaped higher profits? It’s like the Boy Scouts. Why can’t they just have the knots and woodcraft and camping, and leave the homophobic shit out of it?

    I hate this kind of choice.

    Bast

  26. willa
    willa May 17, 2007 at 9:17 am |

    Yeah, that sexist gendered stuff is really, really bothersome. And OLD. Will this nonsense EVER go away? It never ceases to shock me that people still believe that girls are hardwired for pink bows and unicorns while boys are hardwired for demolition derbies and magic kits–and never the twain shall meet!

    Pisses me off. I guess fluidity is too much for some people, still. We need that rigid confining structure. The future of the free world depends on it! We can’t have girls playing with Tonka trucks and boys playing with My Little Ponies! That’s just unnatural! The world would split apart! The fabric of reality itself would rupture!

    All weak sarcasm aside, maybe people considering buying the book for kids could put a paper cover over the book, like kids in high school have to do with their text books. Although then you’d have to take care of the title page and headers, too, I suppose….

  27. emjaybee
    emjaybee May 17, 2007 at 9:21 am |

    The problem is not little girls not liking it; it’s that the title will scare adults away from buying it for them! My mom wouldn’t; Flea, it sounds like your mom wouldn’t either. And that means lots of little girls won’t get the chance to enjoy it, unless they steal their brothers’ copy. And if their brothers are anything like mine were, that will be hard to get away with.

    I would like to buy it (and then deface the cover), but I’d also like to not give this guy my money till he changes “boys” to “kids” and takes the insulting “dealing with girls” crap out of it. So I’m torn. Maybe some savvy US author will copy the concept and jettison the sexist crap.

  28. Quite Contrary
    Quite Contrary May 17, 2007 at 9:23 am |

    she said, over and over, “You should leave this for the men to do. They’re naturally better at that sort of thing. Let them do it.”

    I gave my five year old neice a Lite Brite for xmas last year, that had to be put together with a screwdriver. No sweat. But, when I started to put it together for her, she kept saying, “You can’t put that together, a MAN has to do it!” Well, we had a little talk about what girls and boys can do, in which I learned that she picked up that attitude from her mother who won’t even change a lightbulb. When I told her I remodeled a house almost by myself, she didn’t believe me. It really is scary to see such a young person so easily convinced of false truths, and I worry about her growing up to think that she can’t do anything. When I last asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said she wanted to be a princess. Sigh.

    By the way, I got the Lite Brite assembled in about five minutes, and that was only because I lost a screw and had to rummage my parents’ toolshed to find a new one.

  29. Kristen
    Kristen May 17, 2007 at 9:27 am |

    Because she’s just starting to get the message that certain things aren’t for her because she’s a girl

    I don’t know if this anecdote will help, but I’ll share just in case. I went through this enormous girlie period when I was about seven. I distinctly remember telling my dad (with all my seven year old authority) that mowing the lawn was what boys do. (which is why I shouldn’t be helping pick up the leaves) I also distinctly remember the very long discussion we had where my dad dragged every gender-specific idea I had out of my head and pointed out that all of them were wrong. (I thought I had won with “girls can have babies”, but dad countered with, “yes, but boys can take care of babies just like girls.”) Something about that conversation really stuck with me. Even when I hit my teens and experienced the full peer pressure attack, I knew that these roles people wanted to force on me were just their perception and not a reflection of reality. So I guess my point is that a direct attack on these stereotypes sometimes works best and maybe this book is one way to launch that attack.

    Then he said that out of 7 billion people on the planet, I am the only one who takes issue with his teaching methods. Internet, tell me this is not true.

    It’s not true. And we also take issue with his rudeness. ;) Unless it’s on fire, don’t yank something out of your S.O.s hands.

  30. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite May 17, 2007 at 9:34 am |

    Does it offset the sexism if you make the water bombs with your rather-girlie aunt?

    It offsets it, but it doesn’t neutralize it. The kid’s still getting both messages. My preference is to keep the bad messages out of the house entirely if I can, and only do pushback projects when I’ve got no other choice.

    But then my wife and I didn’t tell our daughter that girls grow up to be women until she figured it out on her own, so I guess we’re pretty hardcore when it comes to squelching gender essentialism.

    Maybe I will figure out a way to attach my own anti-sexist commentary to the book. Perhaps there are things that can be done with stickers and sharpies.

    I’ve done this sort of thing with my daughter, and it does work. A couple of things to bear in mind, tho:

    First, it works a lot better when it’s done collaboratively — when you and the kid discuss the problem, agree that it’s a problem, and brainstorm ideas for how to counteract it together. My kid has a few Disney “princess” books that she’s been given as gifts, for instance, and a couple of weeks back she wanted to take one to school. I told her I thought those books weren’t good for school, and she asked why, and I brought up the fact that most of the princesses seem to spend most of their time sitting around waiting for men. She was receptive to that — she hadn’t noticed it, but she got it when I pointed it out — and so we decided the princesses would be happier with jobs. We made a list of them, and came up with appropriate jobs for each one.

    But even then, she was much more enthusiastic about her own job ideas than mine. Her being in control of the alternate narrative, rather than having it be something imposed on her by her Disney-hating dad, was really important to her.

    Second, I think it’s a lot easier to do culture-jamming stuff around sexism with little girls than with little boys. If you and a girl deface a book that’s “for boys” to make it gender inclusive, you’re collaborating on something that’s both transgressive and empowering for her. You’re helping her to break into a club that’s excluding her. With a boy, it’s a lot less obvious what he has to gain from the project. He might see it as irrelevant — he’s a boy, and the book’s for boys, so what’s the problem? — or even as somehow blaming or denigrating him. It’s delicate, and in that position I’d particularly want the kid to feel like he was in charge of the project.

  31. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite May 17, 2007 at 9:42 am |

    Wow. I don’t remember ever saying that as a kid, but I don’t really remember when I was 4. I remember my mom would say stuff like that, and it would always annoy me. I’m not sure what I’d do if when I have kids they’re big on gender roles. I’d probably want to mess with them by convincing them that boys do dishes and girls play videogames, but that might be mean.

    Funny you should pick that example.

    The incident that I had in mind when I wrote about my kid was one from a few weeks ago. She’d found a crappy little hand-held baseball videogame at Goodwill, and I’d bought it for her, and about five minutes after we left the store she said, out of the blue, “girls don’t play videogames.”

    Turns out that her two six-year-old male cousins have Gameboys, and her six-year-old female cousin doesn’t have one. That’s pretty much all it took.

    The fact that it was a baseball game didn’t faze her, because A League of Their Own is one of her favorite movies. And she plays games on noggin.com all the time. (Too much, if I’m being honest.) But hand-held videogames were coded male for her.

    On the subject of non-electronic retro toys, by the way, she really loves tiddlywinks and pick-up-sticks. Those two toys are the surest way to lure her away from the tube. (And they’re a lot more fun for me to play with her than goddamn Candyland.) Anyone shopping for presents for a preschooler should bear them in mind.

  32. Sniper
    Sniper May 17, 2007 at 9:49 am |

    It does have a “This is not for you” attitude toward girls, but if there are any little girls out there who were like me, they’ll ignore it and get out of it what they find interesting and useful.

    They might ignore it, but they’ll get the message. Girls, you are not here to have fun, you are not here to be celebrated, you are here to serve.

  33. Holly
    Holly May 17, 2007 at 9:52 am |

    The fact that it was a baseball game didn’t faze her, because A League of Their Own is one of her favorite movies. And she plays games on noggin.com all the time. (Too much, if I’m being honest.) But hand-held videogames were coded male for her.

    That’s also really funny considering that Gameboys got so popular with girls that Nintendo started putting them out in more “girl-friendly” colors like purple, pink, and teal. (Obviously that’s still gender-stereotyped, but more colors is good.) There are probably more gender-neutral and girl-targeted games for handhelds like Nintendo makes than any other kind of digital game platform. Oh and they finally got rid of the “Gameboy” name with the next incarnation, the Nintendo DS, which comes in silver, black, electric blue, and pink. (Plus red and turquoise in Japan.)

  34. Nomie
    Nomie May 17, 2007 at 9:58 am |

    I remember being a kid and looking through some catalog with wholesome old-fashioned toys, and they advertised among other things a reprint of a book along the same lines as this one. And even with my feminist upbringing I remember thinking that “the young boys’ adventure manual” or whatever sounded like a lot of fun, but there was no way I could have one because I was a GIRL, and why couldn’t they just have one for girls or one for both? And then I remembered that a girls’ one would be pink and crappy and probably tell me how to set a table. So I went back to my Madeline L’Engle books.

    As for learning by doing, Steve is wrong wrong wrong. It took me three years to get through one of the Suzuki violin books because my mother would take the violin out of my hands and show me how to play it “right’ and then not give it back! (She’s an accomplished violinist and played professionally for years.) I didn’t learn anything except that “practicing” was a waste of time.

  35. Astra
    Astra May 17, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    This reminds me how I loved to sneak into my brother’s room to read his copies of Boy’s Life magazine, a boy scout publication. And I how disgruntled I was that we only ever did fluffly craft projects at girl scout meetings. Of course, I never made it past Brownie, so perhaps they did do cooler stuff later on. But one of my favorite books was a Girl Scout handbook full of all sorts of projects like making a pinhole camera and lashing tent poles and woodcarving. I remember reading it thinking, “wow, girls are allowed to do these things?” Maybe I ought to go dig that book out of my parents’ house sometime…

  36. Isabel
    Isabel May 17, 2007 at 10:19 am |

    When I was little it pissed me off that Gameboys were called Gameboys, but nothing (except my little brother… grr) was going to stop me from playing Tetris for hours at a time (and, now that I’ve downloaded it to my cell phone, nothing ever will again. mwahahahaha). I think you might be right about the handhelds, though I can’t help wondering if it’s in part because a lot of guy-targeted games are necessarily pretty graphics dependent (for the huge muscular heroes, teh boobies on teh wimminz, not to mention all that blood and all those incredibly detailed weapons). Hard to make a game whose hook is “BLOW SHIT UP AND WATCH HOT CHICKS” when the shit disappears into a cheerful puff of smoke and the hot chicks are shaped like squares.

    Also, video games can sure debunk the gender essentialist myth that girls are inherently more patient than boys; my brother would cheerfully spend hours, nay, days at a time fighting repetitive battles just to power up, hunting around the World Map for the secret weapon, mastering the minigames to get money for items, whereas I always got bored and frustrated a few levels in.

  37. Blitzgal
    Blitzgal May 17, 2007 at 10:30 am |

    Oh yeah, the whole “girls aren’t mechanically inclined crap.” I guess I didn’t actually put together every piece of assembly-required furniture I own, or change my own flat tires. I guess the only reason my computer engineer step-father always turns to me to figure out how the DVD, VCR, television, hookups work is because I secretly have a penis.

  38. Perkyshai
    Perkyshai May 17, 2007 at 10:46 am |

    Two things: His teaching methods need reevaluation (on his part), and there is a lot of value in this book having the title and assumptions that it does, because they are completely contraindicated by reality.

    I’m going to use a buzz term, for which I apologise in advance. The term is ‘Teachable Moment’.
    This book creates a gem of a teachable moment for both genders precisely because it assumes that the information and activities in it as preferred by boys, and arcane to girls and women. There’s an idea that activism can be anything in the right context which is exemplified here. If, instead of ignoring the gender bias, you acknowledge it and explain that it’s not an accurate idea, although some people think so, then move on to the contents of the book, you sow the everyday assumption that some people think girls are one thing, but they’re not. They enjoy the same stuff. If you happen to be female and do that, it’s demonstrable proof of your point, which is something that children will incorporate pretty readily. They LOVE modelled behaviour. It’s how they learn fastest. Add to that the reward aspect of time together and an entertaiming end result, and it’s rolling in positive reeinforcement. It sounds a bit optimistic, but sometimes it actually is that easy.

    As far as teaching techniques…there are several primary methods of learning. Audio, visual, kinesthetic. The more of these that we use, the more effectively we absorb and retain information. Learning styles are frequently mixed. I like all three, but am FAR better with visual than the others. Working with special ed, you learn that the more styles you incorporate into your lesson, the greater the likelihood that the kids will engage and retain the lesson. Pretty straightforward, right?
    Now add:
    1. Very few higher ed people have ever taken pedagogy ofany serious nature
    2. Very few teachers have the luxury of having enough coverage in a classroom to try different methods
    3. Testing fatigue and ageism alienates kid responsiveness in classrooms, as well as eliminating real teaching in classrooms
    4. Very few teachers have the unique lab-like environment of a hardcore special ed classroom to learn in…

    …as well as host of other things. It’s not strange that a teacher would have issues with teaching. It happens everyday.

    You are completely valid in determining what your learning style is and trying to communicate that information to your partner. He would do better to listen to you, not remove manipulatives and information sheets from you, and remember his group learning stuff when it comes to problem solving. It doesn’t work if one person just does everything and doesn’t communicate.

    Also…never assume that the directions are effective. I do most of the product assembly at my place because I like IKEA, and love surprising the boi with stuff. I read directions first, reconcile them with parts etc…then frequently freestyle the assembly.

  39. Perkyshai
    Perkyshai May 17, 2007 at 10:47 am |

    Awesome kid pics, btw. Paper airplane face rules.

  40. Clare
    Clare May 17, 2007 at 11:25 am |

    We had a bunch of these kinds of volumes in the house, belonging to may parents, that were the original versions of this latest book. I did enjoy reading them for the parlor tricks, knot-tying tips and all that stuff… but I never forgot that these were artifacts from the past, carrying with them all the baggage of that past, including rank sexism. If I had them in front of me now, I’d probably also notice the class prejudice and racism; after all, the British Empire was still up and at it when these first books came out. Assuming that the overt class and race crap has been eliminated, it’s a shame that the sexism has been kept in. I’m not looking forward at all to the “girl” version, describing all the wonderful ‘adventures’ to be had in the kitchen, the pantry, and the, er… drawing room…

  41. Rxl
    Rxl May 17, 2007 at 11:57 am |

    Astra:

    No, Girl Scouts never got more fun. I stopped going after 6th grade. I remember talks about tampons and horses, and watching a movie about giving birth, and we went to a farm to churn butter.

    My brothers, however, had some kind of MacGuyver/Jeremiah Johnson troop leader who’d dump them in the wilderness and teach them how to hunt and start fires and build near-mansions from deadfall pines.
    Add to that the pure cruelty of a pack of 12-year-old girls, an bookish outcast and a bucket of cold spaghetti and there’s no wonder I preferred to stay home.

  42. mariesa
    mariesa May 17, 2007 at 12:23 pm |

    No, Girl Scouts never got more fun.

    The amount of fun involved in Girl Scouts depends a LOT on the ability and interests of the adult leaders. Crappy leaders= crappy experience. I had some crappy leaders, but my overall Girl Scout experience was awesome. Even as a Brownie, we went on camping weekends (in platform tents) twice a year. When I got older, I got to go on canoe trips, backpacking trips, the ropes course, all that fun stuff. We did crafts and stuff, too, but that wasn’t the entirety of the program, and it doesn’t have to be. It makes me sad that so many people had crappy, overly-gendered Girl Scout experiences.

  43. mariesa
    mariesa May 17, 2007 at 12:24 pm |

    Sorry, I got a little ahead of myself with my last comment, and somehow didn’t include my whole email address. Here it is. :)

  44. Frumious B
    Frumious B May 17, 2007 at 12:29 pm |

    I heard the book reviewed on NPR and thought “how fucking awesome” and then thought “why don’t girls get to learn this stuff?” harumph.

    Internet, tell me this is not true.

    Not true. There are not 7 billion people on the planet.

    No, it’s not true b/c it’s not true. What’s true is that out of 7 billion people on this planet, you are the first to adequately communicate that his teaching style is not helping you and to describe what would help you. Keep it up, maybe you’ll be the first to get him to change how he teaches.

  45. twf
    twf May 17, 2007 at 12:30 pm |

    I’m sure there are alternate books out there; ones that teach the cool stuff without the misogyny. My own favourite as a child is called How to Hold a Crocodile and is hundreds of pages of instructions for both simple (make an egg swim, fix a bicycle tire), and weird (become the Pope, hold a crocodile) tasks.

    I volunteer weekly at an afterschool “Engineering Club.” The only small difference I’ve noticed between the genders is that the girls often decorate their projects (paper airplanes, alka-seltzer rockets) more elaborately. They both love the hands-on projects. Maybe by Grade 2 the socialization hasn’t sunk in yet?

    And this stuff does make a difference. Currently, computer engineering has about 10% women at most universities. Chemical engineering has about 50%. I attribute this, at least in part, to most students believing (often incorrectly) that computer engineering requires significant prior computer experience, and in our culture, it’s the boys writing computer programs at age 13 and building their desktop computer from scratch at 17. The women I know in engineering tend (with some exceptions) to have parents who actively fought gender roles.

  46. Marle
    Marle May 17, 2007 at 12:38 pm |

    No, Girl Scouts never got more fun. I stopped going after 6th grade. I remember talks about tampons and horses, and watching a movie about giving birth, and we went to a farm to churn butter.

    I was in girl scouts through high school. Starting in Jr. High, we did backpacking, a week-long canoe trip, basketball and volleyball camps, and trips to England, Toronto, and the Bahamas. Girl Scouts is way cool once you’re old enough to do stuff.

  47. Antigone
    Antigone May 17, 2007 at 12:44 pm |

    Yeah, I was pissed when I was a kid because I wanted to join boys scouts. They learned how to throw knives, we learned how to fold napkins.

  48. Vanessa
    Vanessa May 17, 2007 at 12:57 pm |

    Most married couples fight over money. Not us.

    When we were still dating, my husband and I had a fight over whether or not Bruce Lee was cooler than Jackie Chan.
    We almost broke up over it.

  49. bellatrys
    bellatrys May 17, 2007 at 1:05 pm |

    Brooklynite – why don’t we do one ourselves? I remember some even from those “good old days” which WERE for girls – shoot, I think I even have my grandmother’s Camp Fire Girls handbook, which is all about how you, yes, you, 1930s girl, can build a fire, canoe down a river, treat rattlesnake bites and identify petroglyphs etc etc etc. There was actually not very much at all as I recall about being “ladylike,” esp considering the era. I suspect we could come up with one that would identify the weaknesses/omissions of this one, and be even more fun – we could call it something snarky that would point up the inherent misogyny of books like this (incl the new “Squires/Princesses” books) and provide an alternative way-of-thinking.

    Not joking, btw – I’m a typesetter/graphic designer IRL, and lulu.com is there to be exploited, after all. Or Chinaberry might be interested…

  50. Chet
    Chet May 17, 2007 at 1:06 pm |

    Man, I’d buy this book for my (nonexistent) daughter(s) because it says “not for GURLZ!” on it. I’d hand it to them and tell them that it was full of secret boy knowledge, which they should learn by heart and then go use it against them.

    This seems like it’s in the vein of the “American Boys Handy Book”, only with maybe less of a focus on building knife-fighting kites and homemade sail boats. (Apparently a young lad of 12 in the 1920′s had all the resources, skill, and talent of a master woodworker.)

  51. Kristen
    Kristen May 17, 2007 at 1:09 pm |

    I attribute this, at least in part, to most students believing (often incorrectly) that computer engineering requires significant prior computer experience, and in our culture, it’s the boys writing computer programs at age 13 and building their desktop computer from scratch at 17.

    Blast my parents for buying that computer when I was 10. Didn’t they know it would turn me into a boy?

    my husband and I had a fight over whether or not Bruce Lee was cooler than Jackie Chan.

    Out of curiosity….who won? Couples fight over the dumbest things. My better half and I used to argue over whether coasters were necessary for warm drinks. Oy.

  52. bellatrys
    bellatrys May 17, 2007 at 1:10 pm |

    Marle, once again, it totally depends on your troop leaders. You were *extremely* lucky, and don’t realize it.

    There is a reason why there is a mocking Boy Scout song about how all Girl Scouts do is sell cookies. The local troop *never* did anything fun, never did anything except fundraise and have meetings about fundraising, and do drippy girly things like make Valentines with construction paper.

  53. Chet
    Chet May 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm |

    There is a reason why there is a mocking Boy Scout song about how all Girl Scouts do is sell cookies.

    I never heard that one, and let me tell you – my Boy Scout troop would have killed somebody to be allowed to sell cookies, because the cookies were damn tasty and they were a hell of a lot easier to sell than fucking fresh evergreen Christmas wreaths, not the least of which because you didn’t have to sell cookies in the middle of fricking November in Minnesota when it was already 20 below outside.

    I haven’t been in scouts for a few years, though, so maybe I don’t remember all the songs. I recall we were a lot more interested in songs that referred to scatalogical functions.

  54. Vanessa
    Vanessa May 17, 2007 at 1:17 pm |

    Out of curiosity….who won?

    Well, I don’t know if anyone is a winner when you’re having that argument.

  55. bellatrys
    bellatrys May 17, 2007 at 1:18 pm |

    As someone who used to work in the toy industry, there was a period when it was popular to say that boys and girls were exactly the same. It was in the 60s and 70s

    Uh, Holly, as someone who was a kid in the early 70s, I can safely say that the amount of pink sparkly frilly crap for girls outweighed the amount of non-gendered toys being marketed by about 100x to 1.

    It was an issue for my mother – who was a weird sort of conservative Catholic antifeminist “Athena-type,” mind you – and remained so through the ’80s – Edmund Scientific being a place a good few of my (and later, my sisters’ presents) came from.

    (Since one of said sisters is now finishing her PhD in bio, I would say it worked better than our mom ever meant, or at least on the surface, since she had ostentatiously bought into the whole “be a mother or a nun” thing – altho’ she constantly undercut it with “warrior woman” role model stories and outbursts of feminism-in-denial…)

  56. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite May 17, 2007 at 1:30 pm |

    Brooklynite – why don’t we do one ourselves?

    I love it. Too much on my plate this month to take a lead, but if we’re forming a collective, I’m in.

    Just so long as you promise that we can include the thing where you slather Elmer’s glue on your hand so you can peel off the disgusting “skin” when it dries. That’s my favorite kid trick in the whole world.

  57. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 17, 2007 at 1:39 pm |

    My Girl Scout troop was mediocre: some camping trips, not too much girly-girl stuff, but not that memorable. I did get to get a merit badge in filmmaking, which was cool.

    My sister-in-law never got to join Girl Scouts at all. The mom who ran the troop in their neighborhood was very picky about who her precious daughter was allowed to associate with, and my SIL wasn’t the “right kind.” Fucking snob.

  58. Mark
    Mark May 17, 2007 at 1:51 pm |

    Sorry I missed your review on ‘girlz sportz’. Does not sound like you are an ahole though. My daughter played fast pitch and ice hockey from youth through high school & was driven to win. But I noticed a strange split on all her teams. A majority, but far from overwhelming, shared a desire I could understand from my youth to do well. But there were always a group that did seem to be more interested in ‘braiding hair & gossip’ with the game as an after thought. There was also a smaller group that seemed to be someplace in between.

    Having seen boys focus so strongly on the sport & so little on the social I often wondered if that third group was really the ‘smartest’. THey of course drove coaches mad because you could never know if today was a sport day or a social day but really wouldn’t we all be better off if we took our games less seriously & each other more seriously?

  59. Mostly Normal
    Mostly Normal May 17, 2007 at 2:20 pm |

    I was in girl scouts through high school. Starting in Jr. High, we did backpacking, a week-long canoe trip, basketball and volleyball camps, and trips to England, Toronto, and the Bahamas. Girl Scouts is way cool once you’re old enough to do stuff.

    Way back in middle school, I -wanted- to be in that cool troop but ended up in the crappy fluffy one instead. If we had been able to do the activities in the Girl Scout handbook, even the non-outdoorsy ones, I would have loved it… but the troop leader preferred to have us learn, for instance, about make-up application. Once a Mary Kay make up saleswoman came in and used my acne problem as an opportunity to show the other girls what would happen if they didn’t use cleanser. ! God that memory makes me angry.

  60. Mostly Normal
    Mostly Normal May 17, 2007 at 2:20 pm |

    p.s. Flea, your kid is super cute.

  61. Interrobang
    Interrobang May 17, 2007 at 2:28 pm |

    I’m up for helping with that book, too. Count me in with the cohort who thinks they should have done “The Dangerous Book for Kids” or maybe just “The Dangerous Book.”

    If I’d been the editor in charge of that one, I would have bounced it. (I say this as someone who has made a few editorial decisions for a small specialty publishing house and who is a published writer.)

  62. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon May 17, 2007 at 2:30 pm |

    Hmmm… I might buy this for my daughter and I. I’ve been wanting to have a “projects” night once a week, but I don’t have any projects. If I had this book I could just do them in order one week at a time. That would be fun.

    First project though would be making a new cover for the book.

  63. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom May 17, 2007 at 2:48 pm |

    I can’t remember a hell of a lot about girl scouts, but I remember vividly the article in my brother’s copy of Boys’ Life on how to make fake bruises and other injuries. Best article ever.

  64. Ibaimendi
    Ibaimendi May 17, 2007 at 3:15 pm |

    On the subject of non-electronic retro toys, by the way, she really loves tiddlywinks and pick-up-sticks. Those two toys are the surest way to lure her away from the tube. (And they’re a lot more fun for me to play with her than goddamn Candyland.) Anyone shopping for presents for a preschooler should bear them in mind.

    I’m just waiting for my niece to be old enough for me to buy her Gulo Gulo. :)

  65. emjaybee
    emjaybee May 17, 2007 at 3:19 pm |

    I’m sure there are alternate books out there; ones that teach the cool stuff without the misogyny. My own favourite as a child is called How to Hold a Crocodile and is hundreds of pages of instructions for both simple (make an egg swim, fix a bicycle tire), and weird (become the Pope, hold a crocodile) tasks.

    **squees**

    OMG twf! I had that book…but could not have told you the title if you paid me! I wore it out I read it so much. Then it probably got garage saled or tossed sometime in Jr. High.

    Must go buy now.

    I have the American Boys’ Handy Book and the American Girls’ Handy Book, and they are most notable for how many things in each one you cannot do because no one keeps lead around the house for you to melt, or lye soap, anymore. Oh well.

  66. Chet
    Chet May 17, 2007 at 3:42 pm |

    I have the American Boys’ Handy Book and the American Girls’ Handy Book, and they are most notable for how many things in each one you cannot do because no one keeps lead around the house for you to melt, or lye soap, anymore.

    The sections on Parliamentary procedure for your little treehouse Super Adventure Club council meetings was a surprising addition. We had both books so I don’t remember what “side” that was in, but I think it was the boys’ book.

  67. Marle
    Marle May 17, 2007 at 3:58 pm |

    Mostly Normal:

    Way back in middle school, I -wanted- to be in that cool troop but ended up in the crappy fluffy one instead.

    Heh, my town had a “crappy fluffy” troop when I started high school too. We went on a joint camping trip with them once. It was really funny watching most of them freak out at dirt. They disbanded a few months later, and the ones who liked more than makeup or whatever they had been doing happily merged into our troop.

    Girl Scouts in high school was a really great time for me. It’s said that so many other girls didn’t have as much fun in GS as I did.

  68. Em
    Em May 17, 2007 at 4:21 pm |

    Girls Scouts sucked. I put up with it for three years. When they made me do a fashion Show, I was out.

  69. Stephanie
    Stephanie May 17, 2007 at 5:02 pm |

    Decisions, decisions! I’ve been eyeing this book for my husband for Father’s Day, but unsure due to the sexism. Now I hear about this “How to Hold a Crocodile” book. Going to have to figure out which one I want for him.

  70. Medicine Man
    Medicine Man May 17, 2007 at 5:16 pm |

    Also, video games can sure debunk the gender essentialist myth that girls are inherently more patient than boys; my brother would cheerfully spend hours, nay, days at a time fighting repetitive battles just to power up, hunting around the World Map for the secret weapon, mastering the minigames to get money for items, whereas I always got bored and frustrated a few levels in.

    Amen Isabel.

    Some of my recent experiences in online RPGs have shown me first hand that the myth is dead wrong on both sides of the gender line. Several of the women I’ve played with are by far some of the most vengeful, aggressive, downright bloodthirsty gamers online. … and I like it that way. :P

  71. Anne
    Anne May 17, 2007 at 5:40 pm |

    As a point of interest: There is a book called You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grownup Girls.

  72. syfr
    syfr May 17, 2007 at 5:57 pm |

    Count me in on the cool book, for as much time as a harried grad student who did not do cool stuff as a kid can spare.

    Bellatrys, just drop a note in my lj to reach me.

  73. Mostly Normal
    Mostly Normal May 17, 2007 at 6:03 pm |

    Anne and twf… thank you for the book tips!

  74. Angelia Sparrow
    Angelia Sparrow May 17, 2007 at 6:07 pm |

    I’m a 15 year veteran of the Cookie Corps. My mother was my troop leader, and I had the radical mom (the one who breast-fed, the one who challenged school authority, etc).

    By sixth grade, we could pitch a tent, sew a button, build a fire, cook a meal over the fire or on a stove, use a pocket knife safely, read a sewing pattern, rig a snare, tie fifteen different knots, use a compass and embroider.

    I also did 2 years as a registered Boy Scout. Their stuff is MUCH more structured.

    I’d love to see the “Dangerous Stuff for Kids to Do” book. I’d even help write it. Homeschoolers would love it. Build a volcano! Grow–and eat–your own crystals! A geodesic dome playhouse of newspaper!

  75. Alix
    Alix May 17, 2007 at 6:37 pm |

    If y’all do a book, I’d so buy it. (I’d love to contribute, but I’m a 22-year-old hermit who spent most of her childhood reading and finding creative ways to mess up the kitchen – and my brother.)

  76. Alix
    Alix May 17, 2007 at 6:47 pm |

    On the topic of this post: could this be turned around for girls? Maybe used to teach them that yes, a lot of people in the world will tell you the cool stuff, or the practical stuff, or whatever, is for boys, but you can’t let that stop you? Kinda help them learn early to deal with the sexism they’ll run into eventually.

    It just seems really wrong to me, to say that you shouldn’t let your kids use a book ’cause it’s heavily biased towards boys. (I can understand not buying it, though.) It seems like those who won’t touch it are, hm, missing out on a fantastic opportunity, I suppose, to help kids learn about sexism the way YOU want them to.

    I don’t know what I mean. I hear from people here, and my friends who are parents, that they don’t want to expose their children to sexist stuff, and I totally get that. But they’re going to be exposed to it anyway. Why not expose them to it yourself, and then undermine it? I dunno.

    My parents bought me (some) books and toys aimed at boys. The one time I mentioned something about it being for boys, my mother actually explained it as a marketing trick (not in quite those words…), and I was apparently satisfied with the explanation.

  77. philosophizer
    philosophizer May 17, 2007 at 6:49 pm |

    I’m an editor and researcher who’d love to help with the book. Drop me a line if we’re gonna do it; I’ll see if I can dig out my mom’s ’60s-era Girl Scout book where I learned everything I know about both camping and American formal dining….

  78. Penny
    Penny May 17, 2007 at 6:55 pm |

    If this book is that awesome, I’ll get it for my son. Before I give it to him though, I’ll do some cover art/vandalism so it reads Dangerous Book fab picture of a monster or something.

    I was brought up that you Never Deface a Book. This Xmas, someone gave our baby a beautifully ilustrated Xmas story book with some graphic images of child murder (I’m not kidding). My partner took one look and rrrrip – problem solved. He took some preachy stuff while he was at it. Why not?

  79. Ismone
    Ismone May 17, 2007 at 7:26 pm |

    When my niece was having a book-defacing stage (she liked ripping the pages out of books for a while) my sister was careful to give her this book about a rainbow fish that we all HATED. Basically, the fish had pretty shiny scales, and the other fish didn’t like it because they did not have pretty shiny scales, so the fish then RIPPED OFF most of its pretty shiny scales and gave them to the other fish so it wouldn’t be prettier. And then all the fish were friends. Ewww. On the surface level, it suggests self-mutilation. On the metaphorical level, it suggest conformity. I do not think I have ever disliked a children’s book more. Yay, Maurice Sendak, is all I have to say.

  80. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 17, 2007 at 7:48 pm |

    So what you’re saying here is that the rainbow fish fell to the communists?

    “I was brought up that you Never Deface a Book.”

    Me, too. I don’t even inscribe books I’m giving as gifts unless the recipient asks me to. Working in a college bookshop for a year made my reluctance a little less extreme, though, and my current library job involves finding ways to neatly excise things that shouldn’t be there. I feel a lot better about ‘improving’ books than I did about stamping the bejebus out of them and then stickering them from hell to breakfast.

  81. Flea
    Flea May 17, 2007 at 10:27 pm |

    This is such an awesome discussion – thank you so much!

    So many of you have articulated so well the ambivalence I have toward this book. One one hand, the stuff inside it is, for the most part, a blast. On the other hand, the authors painted themselves into a corner with their “boys only” rhetoric. (Although since the book is a huge best seller in England, it can be said that they’re sharing the corner with a big pile of money.)

    The discussion about whether or not to buy the book has been especially interesting to me. While I don’t have a problem with a book for boys – I have two boys of my own, for Pete’s sake – the authors put themselves in the position of saying, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary, that girls aren’t interested in any of this stuff, which is absurd (To be specific, they said “most” girls wouldn’t be interested, but some would. Anyway.) If they concede that the subject matter is appealing to almost all children, they have to concede that they made a mistake in gearing it toward boys only, which destroys their entire premise.

    I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I actually had to cut out an awful lot of the stuff I originally wrote, because the review was too damned long as it was. I really appreciate that so many of you fleshed out the criticisms I didn’t elaborate on.

    Now, in the interests of furthering the nitpicking, I will paraphrase the parts in the book that did address the subject of girls directly.

    1.) They pissed me right out of the starting gate, on page 1. This, to me, was the single most irritating thing in the entire book vis a vis girls/women. Nice that they got it out of the way right at the beginning. The first page is about creating a “Boy Kit,” essential stuff for boys that should be collected in a cigar box, with explanations why these things are important. The items themselves are fine, it’s stuff like a compass, a marble, a small flashlight, a box of matches [the mom in me taking over here: Not on your life, bub.]

    Item 3 is a handkerchief. Here’s why a boy should have one: “preventing smoke inhalation or helping with a nosebleed or offering one to a girl when she cries.”

    “Oh, fuck you,” says me when I read that. It’s the word “when” instead of the word “if” that really rubs it in, I think. My, what low expectations we have! Ugh. Still irritated. Moving on to the chapter about dealing with the fairer sex:

    1. Girls are different.
    2. Girls are not impressed by your knowledge of Morse code or the fact that your urine makes great invisible ink.
    3. When speaking to girls, do not talk incessantly about yourself.
    4. Be careful with humor. If you’re bombing, shut up.
    5. Girls love flowers, but wait until you’re grown up to buy them for women, if you’re too young you’ll look like a creep.
    6. Do not sign your Valentine’s Day cards to girls, because girls like mystery. Buy a valentine for an ugly girl, too.
    7. Do not fart.
    8. Exercise, so you will have some color in your face and do not look like you crawled out from under a rock.
    9. If you see a girl in need of help, do not make her feel stupid about it.
    10. Do not be a filthy pig. Take a bath.
    11. Girls are just as nervous around you as you are around them.
    12. Be respectful.

    That, in its entirety, is the book’s opining on girls. Then it moves on to marbling paper and skinning and cooking a rabbit.

  82. Nomie
    Nomie May 18, 2007 at 3:54 am |

    preying mantis, there was actually a post on a Livejournal community a while ago where some unhinged fellow went on a diatribe about how The Rainbow Fish was promoting socialism in our schools. It was the sort of breathtaking absurdity that one usually sees from subway preachers and the like.

  83. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 18, 2007 at 8:12 am |

    That’s awesome. The commies: in ur childrens books, convertin all ur kids.

  84. Rugosa
    Rugosa May 18, 2007 at 8:36 am |

    http://www.tamponcrafts.com

    For the Dangeral Book for Girls ;-)

  85. Loosely Twisted
    Loosely Twisted May 18, 2007 at 9:24 am |

    Omg, I would so love that book. My dad had tons of other books in his collection and he took me under his wing and we made circuts, batteries, tore things apart. As sexist as my dad was, he was sure good at blowing the myths apart all by himself.

    One of my fondest memories of childhood was when we spent a summer making a go-cart together. Welding it up, and painting it red. omg it was awesome. I LOVED IT. hehe First thing I did was run into the damn fence and busted my arm. LOL

    Then the other time my dad and I when I was younger we made a well it wasn’t a moped, cause it could flat out move, but it was a small motorcycle built for me! Yes my dad is awesome like that.

    I got hurt on that too, and he tore it apart. He felt so guilty but it wasn’t his fault.. lol

    I am a feminist because my dad wanted a boy and got a girl and didn’t care, he took me hunting, fishing, and camping. He was my scout leader. :)

    Wanna know something kewl? My dad taught me how to cook. Not my mom, but my dad, he showed me all the practical things in life.

    I want to help write the book, if you going to do one.

    I was in brownies too, and my dad got mad at the scout leader because she wasn’t doing it right. I didn’t last but 3 weeks in scouts, I wanted to be in Boy scouts. So my dad taught me everything he learned in Scouts. :)

    Yes my dad did have a boy, my baby brother. But by the time my brother was interested in these things, I was already my dad’s “boy”. lol I am glad me being a girl didn’t stop my dad from having fun. He is now helping me to dispell the myths with my girls.

    I also rememer my dad teaching me Binary. I knew my multiplication tables before I hit school. Now that was an advantage that was awesome in it’s return value. What’s neat, is it wasn’t hard to learn.

    Gawd, I gotta go give my dad a hug!! Later.

  86. Wishy Washy
    Wishy Washy May 18, 2007 at 10:25 am |

    I was a Brownie and Junior Girl Scout as well. We had two overnight camping trips, went to a quarry to hunt for fossils, as well as more “girl-coded” activities such as putting on a skit (not really feminine-specific activity but somehow theatre is “girly”) and making macrame plant-pot holders (it was the early 80′s after all). Our troop leader was something of a hardass, actually. I quit Girl Scouts because I got really seriously into equestrian stuff (jumping over fences! galloping across fields!yay!) and piano lessons and it started to take up all my time.

    I turned out to be niether overtly “masculine” or overtly “feminine” as a child – my parents adopted a case-by-case policy for toy purchases and discussion of gender normativity. “Cooking class” with my mom or dad was one of my favorite things as a child because, well, I love food. My mother did grudgingly buy me barbies, which I liked more for the fashion/clothes aspect than the body image/girly aspect. I liked design-based toys (Spirograph, Spectrograph, Lite-Brite, Tinkertoys, Legos) as well as an electrical circuit experiment board, a chemistry set (ruined my lovely Kirk-Stieff Repousse baby spoon melting sulfur in it), etc. My parents never told me anything specific about what toys I should gravitate towards, and I had no interest in baby dolls nor any interest in toy trucks, though I did have a passing interest in Star Wars action figures. I had an Atari 2600 like every other respectable consumerist suburban kid at the time. Patriarchal pedestal-putting-on-of-girls actually served me once, when the last remaining copy of Pitfall at the local video store was chivalrously handed to me by the store clerk over an impenetrable mob of jostling boys two or three years older than me who had barricaded the display case begging for it and who loudly proclaimed how unfair it was that it was given to a girl, and a “little” girl at that.

    I must admit I am little miffed at the title of this book, cool contents or no. I suspect I would have been one of those girls who picked it up anyway, and whose parents would have sanctioned rather than condemned my feeling free to pick up something labeled “for Boys,” but that does not mean i was a typical little girl or had typical parents. For a girl who is struggling with feeling less-than, or parents who are trying to indoctrinate her into believing that diapers and cooking are to be the bulk of her provenance, the title would be a huge barrier.

  87. Melissa
    Melissa May 18, 2007 at 6:17 pm |

    My mom teaches K/1st grade and always has the boys playing with dolls and the kitchen stuff because they don’t have it at home–children play with what is available to them and what they’re expected to play with.

  88. Karen
    Karen May 18, 2007 at 10:17 pm |

    I am so going to get that book for my sons, even if I have to take a Sharpie to the front of it. Andy, my older son who turned 9 on Monday, and his best friend Katie (definitely a girl) can take a break from playing with the pirate toys and the circuit building set and the Legos for some of this stuff.

  89. bekabot
    bekabot May 19, 2007 at 1:42 pm |

    …the title really sucks and sends a clear message about who gets to have fun with all sorts of creative, intellectually engaging activities, and who doesn’t…

    I’m ashamed to admit it, but things like this bother me too. I tell myself that there’s no point in getting worked up over such things, that getting worked up over such things is a waste of my time and energy, that getting worked up over such things is an admission of personal weakness, and that a woman who throws a hissy fit, even a strictly internal hissy fit, over the title of a book has in her heart joined the ranks of the censors. I realize fully that everything I tell myself is true. Doesn’t matter. I’m still furious.

    But what am I actually furious about? It’s not really a stupid book title, it’s that over and over, one runs flat-out full-tilt into the same dispensation whereunder little boys come in for Latin lessons whilst little girls are being given compassionate & well-meaning advice about how to tie a bow in their hair. Gaah. “Go away and die; you can’t play. ” That’s the message being sent, deny it who can. That’s the message being sent, and no one alive has the right to try to tell me any different.

    On the other hand, if nobody’s ever been corrupted by a book, I don’t see much chance that anyone’s likely to be corrupted by the title of a book. Just pissed off, just pissed off, just pissed off.

  90. Lauren
    Lauren May 19, 2007 at 9:08 pm |

    I got a similar book for Ethan a few months ago and was appalled by some of the sexism in it — so I ripped out the pages.

    The final offender was a page on why dogs are better than cats for pets, because cats are like women — you never know what they’re thinking! Ba dum ching!

    And I’m about to hand this to a cat-crazy little boy who wants to grow up and be a cat vet? I hid it on mommy’s bookshelf. Fuck that shit.

  91. Mickle
    Mickle May 20, 2007 at 4:38 am |

    This is the internets speaking: SO of Flea, that is so not true it rivals “but girls/boys don’t like that!” in sheer truthiness.

    Pretty much all my female relatives, friends, co-workers, classmates, random women on the street, etc. have complained to me at one point or another that every male relative, friend, etc. they know attempts to “teach” them how to do something by taking over. And that the likelihood of this happening is directly proportional to the skill’s relationship to traditional guy stuff.

    If I had a nickel for every time my parents alone had this argument….

    Luckily for me, while I tended to prey victim to the “this is for boys!” line, I was standing my ground on learning to do things the proper way by first grade. Pretty much all the arguments my father and I had when he was helping me do my science fair projects were about me telling him to back the hell off. Not um, in those exact words, of course.

    preying mantis – Spend a few months at a bookstore where part of your job description is to strip the covers off of mass markets that aren’t selling. It certainly changed my perspective. :)

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