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Monday, February 6, 2012

Can Rivers Be a Part of Gender War

Because we have been discussing Gender War recently, a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article titled, "Even Rivers Wander Through Gender Wars" caught my eye. According to Maine freelance writer, Susan Farlow, Germany's Rhine River is generally considered a male river. It branches off into the Moselle, a female river.

The Rhine, a powerful river with swift currents, got its name from the Celtic word "renos", meaning raging flow. The Moselle has been considered feminine at least since the fourth century. It flows slowly through the town of Koblenz and winds through hillsides covered with vineyards.

In the United States we don't have to determine our rivers' gender. Unlike German, French, or Spanish, the English language has no masculine or feminine articles so nouns are neutral. Interestingly, on today's noon news there was a story about the big uproar over the Lego company's new legos designed for little girls. It has girlie figures who are designed to be played with in a domestic lego setting. Apparently, the legos marketed to boys are designed to build things.

In my limited world of sand-play therapy, I found girls often chose figures to make sand trays of gardens, imaginary beautiful places, treasure, homes for cute tame animals. Boys, on the other hand, usually chose action figures or fierce animals and waged battles. If they put treasure in their sand pictures their sand figures fought over it. Their sand tray stories sounded very different than the girls'.
The girls' stories might show conflict but the resolution was peace and safety. Boys often ended with blow-ups and destruction.

My limited access to children's play may not be worth much, but it makes me wonder if gender war comes naturally and each side needs to understand the differences in a way to make them assets instead of liabilities.


  1. I wonder, are gender wars nature or nurture? Do girls prefer domestic settings because this is how we start them off? What happens if boy, or girl, are born into a green or yellow, gender neutral environment? Will the girl automatically become "domesticated?"

  2. Interesting question. Most young girls I have in counseling make very different sandtrays than young boys. They all have access to the same figures and objects. Instructions are to make a story in the sandtray. Your question have they been programed already or is this something we are born with. I don't know.