Batman vs the Princesses

Last year a girlfriend and I organized a joint party for my daughter and her son, inviting a total of 20 boys and girls (the entire preschool class). Both seven months pregnant at the time, it was a two-hour ordeal we still talk about with disbelief; disbelief that we were crazy enough to think it was a great (and manageable idea). As the first anniversary of that back breaking, sanity-challenging, dual-gender fest approaches, an article in Aftenposten has caught my eye (and raised my ire).

It is common here for schools to advise parents to invite either all the girls, all the boys or everybody in the class when planning a kiddy birthday party. Of course most parents opt for the more manageable single sex party. Anyone who has young children will recognize the sense of not inviting a gang of transformer-wielding, Batman-impersonating six-year old boys to a princess party or avoiding having twice as many children as you can get away with ransacking your living room on a Saturday afternoon.

Along comes a gender researcher at the University of Oslo, who according to the newspaper article, is calling on parents to boycott such a gender-divisive policy as it is just as discriminating against children as inviting only the rich or the white children. Oh please! Give parents a break. He adds that gender should not be used as a practical means of dividing a class up; schools should be more creative than that he says. What form that creativity should take we are not privy to.

Of course schools should probably mind their own bloody businesses and stay out of the whole party thing but if they don’t feel parents can be trusted to organize parties at home without causing unnecessary grief to their students then the gender advice sounds fine to me. I mean who are we kidding? The world is divided, rightly or wrongly, according to those with a penis and those without, and the older and more children I get, the more obvious this becomes. Just because we’re different though doesn’t mean we’re not equal; just very, very different. From birth.

I'd prefer tell my child that she wasn't invited to a party because some day she'll grow breasts rather than explaining that her classmate's Mummy and Daddy could only face having ten girls and boys home, and she wasn't liked enough to make the cut.

For my part, I am looking forward to, next Sunday, hosting eight princesses for a fifth birthday party. The only gender equality issue that will matter will be equal sharing of the clean-up – in this house, that’s one area in which sexual discrimination is never tolerated and, let's face it, for many of us, it's where it really matters.

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