Parent Interviews

 

 

Abbie (22) & Zak (23) have a four month old baby boy called Taylor

 

Me: ‘Do you think you live up to any stereotypes yourselves?’

 

‘I think so yeah, Zak earns the most money and he’s the man and I look after Taylor more, they’re both quite stereotypical roles. I have the influence over Zak with style so he doesn’t have a choice but we’re both kinda chavy.’

 

Me: ‘How would you react to a young boy playing with toys that are more traditionally meant for girls?’

 

Abbie: ‘I wouldn’t care at all but Zak would go mental.’

 

Zak: ‘No, I wouldn’t mind if they just played with them in general when they were younger, but if they carried on playing with them when they were older I’d find it a bit weird. I wouldn’t go mental, I’d just think they were turning homosexual or something.’

 

Me: ‘What kind of ages do you think that the barrier would start to be crossed then?’

 

Zak: ‘If he was 2 or 3 and playing with Barbie’s it’d be ok, but if he carried on like 6,7,8 I’d think he was a bit of a puff yeah.’

 

Me: ‘So if a girl who plays with boys toys is called a tom-boy, what would you call a boy who plays with girls toys?’

 

Abbie: ‘I just think it’s normal but Zak would definitely call them a puff.’

 

Zak: ‘Well no it’s not normal is it. When you’re a kid you don’t care what toys you play with but as you get older and you’re still playing with girly things you’re a little bit bent then. Because I was with a boy at school who played with girly toys and then he started wearing girls clothes and make-up and now he’s a puff.’

 

Me: ‘So do you see boys playing with girls toys as kind of a gateway to being gay rather than something that their born with?’

 

Zak: ‘I don’t know, maybe, but I they’d be more out about it if they did play with girls toys when they were younger.’

 

Me: ‘So when Taylor is 8 or 9 and he wanted a generic girly toy, would you buy it for him?’

 

Abbie: ‘I’d buy it for him but Zak wouldn’t.’

 

Zak: ‘I’d rather him play with like an action man or something, I’d definitely try and persuade him to chose something else.’

 

Me: ‘Do you think there’s a protective element as well? Like you’d only let him have what’s considered normal so that he won’t get judged by other people? Or is it more the reflection on you that you might get that concerns you?’

 

Zak: ‘I think it’s just because I’m a man and that’s just what all men think really. Boys shouldn’t play with girl’s things. If he did have girl’s toys I’d probably hide them. I’d want to be a supportive parent and I think living in Abergavenny that would be the way to do it.’

 

Abbie: ‘Yeah kids round here would probably take the piss out of him I think. That’s more to do with their parent’s opinion and they’re just copying them though.

 

Zak: ‘If I saw other kids playing with Barbie and Polly Pocket and stuff, I wouldn’t say anything but I’d think it was a bit weird. Other people would probably say something though and I wouldn’t want my kid to get upset so I’d stop the problem before it happened.’

 

Me: ‘So do you think that living in a smaller community like Abergavenny will give him certain outlooks when he’s older?’

 

Abbie: ‘Yeah definitely. I think he’ll be a bit chavy because everyone here is. I think it’ll stop him from wanting to go and explore the world as well, everyone just stays here in their little bubble. I don’t know actually, he might do the complete opposite and just get out of here as fast as he can! He’ll probably stay though because his mates will influence him by then.’

 

Zak: ‘I think it depends on the person. I mean you both grew up here and you’ve gone off to Uni in London and Abbie has stayed here.’

 

Me: ‘So if you think it’s up to the person on things like where they want to live, why should it not be up to them on how they want to live? People’s sexuality is programmed from birth and the same could be said for wanting to travel. People might be programmed to want to play with girls toys so why should that be prevented?’

 

Zak: ‘No, I’m not saying that, it’s just when they’re younger, they can make their own choices and stuff and live how they want when they’re older.’

 

Me: ‘That sounds a lot like a ‘not in my backyard’ kind of attitude. Don’t you think that would lead to a repressed life?’

 

Zak: ‘I think it’s just because I’ve been programmed by my dad and other people that I have my opinion. I think having Abbie and me raising Taylor together will probably balance it out.’

 

Me: ‘Would you consider yourself to be a metrosexual man? So you’re like the modern version of a man in that you still have manly principles but you look after yourself in a more feminine way.’

 

Zak: ‘Well I don’t know if it’s more feminine but I like to look nice, have a sun bed and all that.’

 

Me: ‘So where is the line between looking after yourself and being feminine? And if looking after yourself is seen to some as being feminine and ok, why is it not ok to be feminine in other ways?’

 

Zak: ‘Well I don’t pluck my eyebrows into shape or anything but it’s hard to tell. Some guys you think are really gay because they look so preened and over the top but they’re not. You can’t just judge someone when you look at them now. I think it’s like the modern way to be a man, you know girls only like you if you look nice and hygienic so that’s the only way to get them. It’s always been a man’s priority to get a girl but before you had to be rough and beardy, or be a gentleman and now it’s like this. So it is still manly but playing with girly toys is just not, it’s different. If you look like a girl and play with girls toys then you are just a girl.’

 

Me: ‘Do you think this will have any effect on Taylor?’

 

Abbie: ‘Yeah I think he’ll look after himself, be like his daddy. Or he could rebel like I did against Mum and Dad. I think it’s a good thing to want to look after yourself though.’

 

Me: ‘Do you think they way you interact with Taylor no will have any effect on his choices when he grows up? Are you gender specific with the way you interact with him’

 

Abbie: ‘He’s still so young so it’s just baby talk and babbling at the moment, it’s not really gender specific so I guess not apart from the way we dress him. Zak talks to him like he’s a grown up sometimes which might have a different effect though.

 

Me: ‘When Taylor is older do you think it’ll be harder for you to bond with him because he’ll probably be more masculine than you Abs?’

 

Abbie: ‘No I don’t think so, I’m his mum so however he turns out we’ll have a bond. I think if he is a bit more feminine then Zak might have a bit more trouble relating to him but not in a big way.’

 

Me: ‘Do you think with Zak being a modern man and a pro-active parent that Taylor will grow up to be more masculine?’

 

Abbie: ‘I really don’t know, we’ll just have to wait and see. Although Zak is manly and strong and stuff he’s a softie with Taylor so I think Taylor will change Zak more than the other way round.’

 

Me: ‘Do you have any worries for the future about the kind of stigma that comes with stereotypes and whether Taylor will be affected by them?’

 

Abbie: ‘I’m not sure whether he will be bullied or be the bully, but my biggest worry is that he’ll hang around with the wrong people and get into drugs. Stereotypes have grouped people together around here and there are always the groups that are trouble. I’m worried that people will automatically assume that he is trouble and that might force in to actually doing stupid things. That’s what happened to me so he might do the same thing.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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