Musings on gender stereotypes
When I was pregnant I imagined raising strong, independent girls. Feisty, don’t take any shit girls. Girls who weather our world and work to change it.
When I had boys I imagined raising kind, compassionate, thoughtful boys. Boys who are aware of the inherent imbalance of our world. Gentle and caring boys who raise up those around them and work to change the world.
Now I am raising two humans and increasingly aware of the constructs of gender around them.
A birthday card with a boy and a girl superhero on the front. The message inside is written to a boy, and there isn’t a version available for a girl.
People we meet assume my pink loving, long curly haired child is a girl, sometimes even after correction. When they think he is a girl they admonish him to be careful and gentle, quiet and calm. When they are told he is a boy they forgive the same behaviour as ‘boys will be boys’.
It starts early and doesn’t stop.
Marketing has told us that everything needs to be separate, colour coded, neatly labelled. It is so deeply ingrained now that a question such as ‘Where can I find a car seat suitable for a boy?’ is commonplace and if you ask what makes it suitable for a boy as opposed to a child you’re the weird one.
Boys and girls are not inherently different. They are humans, with personalities, likes and dislikes which make them individuals – but the small physical differences do not give rise to two wholly separate groups. Boys and girls do not need colour coding. They don’t need different clothes or toys. They don’t need treating differently. We are being sold a lie to make us buy twice and we do our children and our society a huge disservice.
For now, I will raise two humans who are strong, independent, feisty, don’t take shit, kind, compassionate, loving and thoughtful. And they will change the world.