Girls and Boys

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There’s a musical game that I often play with children who see me on a regular basis. Whenever they leave a space in a group, I get requests from them to play the original theme from Batman on the piano. Depending on the mood I’m in, I either grant them their wish, or I play Let it go from the film Frozen. In their young minds, the children associate Let it go with girly interests, so the boys started a trend of covering their ears whenever they hear the tune.

Initially, this game of musical association was a clear case of assigning stereotypical notions of gender to specific tunes. After a short while, a significant number of girls decided they preferred the Batman theme to Let it go. In doing so, they subtly shifted the terms of reference, so the atmosphere evoked by Batman was more about being dynamic and energetic, whilst Let it go was associated with mawkish sentimentality.

I only ever saw the original Batman series on television as a child. The movies made from the 1990s onwards with the same characters were not really of interest to me. I sense that Frozen wasn’t made with people like me in mind, so I’m not ashamed to say I haven’t seen it. It is intriguing however, to consider that Let it go is well crafted and carries a useful message for anyone, regardless of gender.

At which point in life is it that human beings start making assumptions about things we come across, based primarily on what we see or hear? In many cases, it is useful to be attuned towards making assessments based on signs and signals, but some things are not what they initially seem to be.

Scornful thoughts have been expressed in the public domain about “gender neutral” nurseries in recent times. I wonder if it’s such a bad idea to have them, after all…