When I was a child in a whitebread American community during the '70s, it was quite apparent to me that the boys were allowed to have more fun and were accorded more respect than girls. Boys got to run all over the classroom playing war, while girls were confined to “the doll corner” (and I mean the teacher came after us if we strayed from our boundaries). Boys were coached to play games of skill (mainly soccer) while girls played hopscotch. Hopscotch, quite frankly, isn’t very challenging. There is a reason there are no professional hopscotch leagues.
Fathers clapped little boys on the back, and said, “Whaddya think of them Redskins?” Fathers patted little girls on the head and said, “Aren't you a pretty little thing?” Mothers sighed indulgently that “boys will be boys” while glaring balefully at girls who dared to get their fingernails dirty. Puny little boys were told to take care of their mothers and sisters while daddy was away. In the worst example from my childhood, my female gym teacher divided my class into five competitive mixed-sex teams -- each with a little boy as the leader, and a little girl as a second-in-command. This was in an American public school circa 1979!
Folks like the people at Focus on the Family believe that feminists are trying to turn little girls until little boys and vice-versa. Others believe that they must impose strictly defined differences upon little boys and little girls. I understand that they do not want to raise feminists. I understand that many little girls love dolls. But my highly gendered childhood DROVE me to feminism. "Feminism" was the only word I knew that expressed my profound distaste for being placed in a category that did not suit me and my deep longing for the respect the little boys seemed to take for granted.