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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Gendered items.

At camp we are always finding lost, unlabeled items such as socks, shirts, shorts, lunch bags, and water bottles. Oftentimes the object is quite gendered in appearance (a pink flowered lunch bag, a sleeveless/sleeves-cut-off shirt, socks that are what appears to be a “girl” style or a “boy” style.

When looking for the owners of these particular lost items, I always feel in conflict. Should I say, “Girls, look up here. Who lost a pink flowered lunch bag?” Or should I just say, “Campers, look up here. Who lost a pink flowered lunch bag?” The lunch bag belongs to a girl, of that I am certain. However, I don’t want to reinforce the children’s already developing gendered ways of thinking. I want the boys to know that if the lunch bag were to belong to them that would be perfectly acceptable. However, it’s hard enough to get the attention of 25 children, trying to get the attention of all 50+ of them is rarely possible.

In cases like this I usually do address the entire group of campers, but if the item is not claimed after a whole-group advertisement, I target those of the gender-stereotyped owners.


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