Here's a quick recap:
My (then) four-year-old son Léo wanted a toy cell phone, and the most fabulous one at the store was bright, sparkly pink!!! Naturally that was the most attractive one, so he asked for it. My initial instinct was to balk, but then I said "Ah, what the hell," and bought it for him. Then he took it to school.
What happened next reminds me of something I read the other day in Dan Savage's The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family
Then one day we packed D.J. off to preschool [...] where he got a crash course in sex roles. It wasn't the teachers who poured this poison into his ears; we sent him to a progressive Montessori school on our left-leaning island, not some Southern Baptist preschool in a church basement. His teachers would sooner feed children tacks than force boys to do boy things and girls to do girl things. No, it was the other children who indoctrinated D.J. to think of boys and girls as two warring camps. From day one is was the boys vs. the girls, and there wasn't much the adults could do about it. When the children weren't engaged in Talmudic discussions about which toys or activities were male or female, the boys were chasing the girls around the yard during recess. When the boys got bored and went off to play with their boy toys, the girls would tease them until the chase started up again. Add fifteen years, some pubic hair, and a keg of beer, and it would be difficult to tell the difference between recess at Starbreak Montessori and friday night at a frat house.
lol. Well, it wasn't exactly like that as far as I know, but you get the idea. Léo swiftly and profoundly absorbed the lesson pink things are for girls. He even took it one step further: to this day he won't accept any object that is pink or purple.
Since Léo's older brother Nico apparently never picked up this lesson quite so intensely (he'll accept pink objects at home), I almost wonder if I did the wrong thing by allowing Léo to take that pink phone to school. Since, really, I knew what was going to happen.
On the other hand -- as much as I'm not fond of fixed gender roles -- I don't think it's necessarily bad for him to learn some social lessons the old-fashioned way. (I hope I don't get flamed by homeschoolers for saying this, but) I think it's valuable for children in modern society to be exposed to an alternate social structure (different authority figures, different expectations) than what they have at home. Even if I disagree with some of the values they're learning, they should be exposed to society -- to understand what's out there, to get an idea of the ways we're the same, the ways we're different...