Saturday, 12 January 2008

What makes a purse a purse?

Do you know the difference between a purse and a wallet? My five year old nephew is still slightly exasperated and cross with me for saying that his wallet is a purse over the Christmas holidays. It looked like a purse to me. Purses are for girls and boys have wallets. Apparently.

Answers on my blog please so I can either apologise for getting it wrong, or confidently be the annoying (his words)/educative (my preference) uncle who believes it vital to explain that the difference between a purse and a wallet is based on what it is, not on the gender of the person using it.

Regardless of the answer, we had a great debate about what it was ok for boys and girls to do. Our conversation affirmed my belief that primary schools must begin formal sex and relationships education as soon as children start school. They are clearly learning about gender and relationships anyway.

Aged 8 or 9, my friend Tanya and I were asked by our Sunday School teacher what we wanted to be when we grew up. She wanted to be a doctor. I firmly told her that just wasn't possible. She wasn't a man. I was corrected, but I didn't believe it for quite a while. (And no, I didn't say I wanted to be a sex educator - that particular day i wanted to be a radio DJ - a local radio station had just launched)

If the purse conversation was proof my lovely boy was learning the rules of gender early and definitively, i smiled later that day when he shrieked with delight because i could type fast without looking at the keyboard. When I was at primary school that really was proof that you weren't a proper man at all. Two steps forward. One step back.

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