Gender stereotypes drive me crazy. Of all the things I am neurotic about as a mom, gender stereotypes are at the top of my list. I think it’s because it’s so limiting for kids. They are taught at alarmingly young ages that they are only capable of a select few traits, professions and interests. And I actually think boys are put in smaller boxes than girls, but girls don’t have it much better.
It’s easy to think we must be past this by now. It’s 2010 and we are post-feminism, right? We can all be doctors and scientists and mathematicians.
And it’s easy to think that these gender preferences in young kids have to do with innate differences in their DNA. That boys will be boys and girls will be girls.
Except despite my insistence that girls are equal to boys, my daughter doesn’t believe women can be bosses. She told me I was silly when I said my boss was a girl. She objected to the mere idea that a woman could be in a position of power, not that she had different tendencies than a man.
These messages are EVERYWHERE. And it pains me.
Pigtail Pals recently wrote a blog post, Have Yourself a Very Sexist Holiday, about the messages kids get from toy advertising. It is insane to me that this would be just as pervasive as when I was a child, but boys and girls are told they play with different things, through advertising.
Of course to a certain extent this is likely true. Boys like to be active, girls like to nurture things. I won’t argue against the concept (here. I might elsewhere…). But what about a child that goes against the mold? What about a girl who wants to play with trains? Where are the girl trains? Or a boy who wants to love on a doll? Where are the boy dolls?
Definitely food for thought as we start our holiday shopping.
|Ryann’s toys when she was a toddler|
I strive for equality in Ryann’s toy selection. She has babies, barbies and dollhouses. But she also has action figures, sports equipment and spaceships. When given a choice between Disney Princess roller skates or Toy Story (boy) roller skates she picked Toy Story without any qualms that they weren’t pink. Or purple, as that is her favorite color.
Unfortunately this still takes courage, as a parent, to foster. You have to believe that gender stereotypes are only healthy when they don’t limit your child’s growth. And you have to not bat an eye when your child choses interests outside of his or her gender. You don’t redirect to more “gender appropriate” things. You have to have the courage to let them be who they are.
|My little War Machine this Halloween|