I'm just wondering what Berries think of gender stereotyping in children?
We allow our daughter to play with whatever toys she wants. No such thing as "that's for boys" or "that's for girls" in our house. She plays with her dolls and her Barbies but she also plays with toy race cars and enjoys kicking a ball around with daddy.
Our neighbours son is 5 years old and we were at his birthday party today. The time came to open gifts, and was absolutely ecstatic to receive a toy kitchen, complete with pots and pans, from one of his relatives (I can't remember which one!).
His dad was not pleased - As soon as he realised what it was, he took it from him and told him he wasn't allowed play with it. He then proceeded to talk down to the relative who bought the gift, asking were they trying to turn his son into a sissy. I recall this same father refusing to give his permission for his son to take part in some baby dancing activity at the parent toddler group a few years ago, he flat out refused to let his son take part and made him sit and watch even though he was begging.
I was shocked and appalled - My DH and I discussed it when I was pregnant on Amelie and we agreed we would not parent our children that way.
It got me thinking about public attitude to gender stereotyping. People seem to give girls a pass - Its okay for a girl to wear jeans all the time and play baseball because they're "tomboys". But these same people would recoil in horror if their son wanted to join a ballet class or similar.
Its even notable in names (disclaimer: I don't want this to turn into a name thread!). A girl called Dylan or Rory is fine, but parents are shying away even from names which typically started out as boys names (Think Avery, Lauren, Kelly) for fear of someone thinking their boy is a girl.
What is your opinion on this? Will you/Do you allow your children play with toys from both genders, and take part in activities predominately associated with the opposite sex? I'm curious to hear some thoughts on this.
Excuse my ramblings, I'm sort of thinking out my feelings on this as I go.
I played with dinosaurs as a child more than I played with dolls, and when my brothers were old enough to play with me, we amassed a very extensive Hot Wheels collection and played with them frequently. (Granted, I tended to name the cars and pair them off in boy/girl couples, but what the hey.)
I would be super upset at that father. There is nothing wrong with a boy wanting to play kitchen, many of the best chefs in the world are men, and that certainly doesn't make them sissies.
I think that there's still a lot of patriarchy in our society, this underlying idea that men are better, or less blatantly, that masculine energy is what ensures your success in life and your status in the world. I think that is why women are allowed or encouraged to be tomboys or exhibit masculine energy and aggression, particularly in the work place, but for a man to display feminine energy or an interest in a female-dominated profession, his perceived loss of masculinity is threatening to him or to his family members. Like that father...he was somehow threatened by the idea that his son would be perceived as having feminine energy, he equated it with being "sissy" or weakness. He wants his son to be strong so he can dominate and keep his place in the world.
While on the one hand, I want to totally decry this attitude and say that I'm not like that, I have to take an honest look at myself. The other day I saw an article where a man was wearing a skirt and his son was wearing a dress, because his son just naturally gravitated towards pretty sparkly things like nail polish and dolls and dresses, and he didn't want him to be judged alone. The son obviously idolized his father, and so his father was being supportive of his son's natural tendencies. While I would like to say that I'm not like the father who took away the kitchen playset, I reacted to the images in this article very negatively. Just my initial instinctive reaction was one of shock and disgust. It REALLY bothers me that I felt that way, and I'm still internally analyzing my reaction and how I feel about this issue.
I also know that because of my own incredibly negative experience with my cross-gender name, I'm definitely drawn to very gender-specific masculine and feminine names for my children. I have negative reactions to unisex or masculine names on girls and feminine sounding names on boys. It makes me wonder if I buy into the stereotypes more than I realize.
To sum up all my thoughts: it's a complex and troubling subject, and I haven't figured out where I'm at yet :)
I'm half and half on this because I can see it being taken too far in both directions.
Boys dancing? totally. awesome and fantastic, not a huge deal.
Boys being encouraged to wear dresses? not so much.
Girls playing with trucks? wonderful and great!
Girls being pushed into tough sports when they don't enjoy them and aren't good at them? no.
There are in fact gender and sex roles in our society as much as some people don't want to acknowledge them, teaching your children to ignore them may broaden their minds but will also make for a lot of difficult teasing and questions earlier than they may be able to truly handle.
I think it's best to be mostly led by your child in things like this. If you let them walk around the toy store and pick anything they want, if they pick a truck or a doll--get it for them, who cares whether they're a boy or girl. But don't try to make a point to other people by making your kid an example.
Gender programming starts the moment a child is born. It's incredibly difficult to untangle what is innate from what is culture. I'm a feminist (formerly a radical second-wave separatist, now much more laid back but still pretty far to the left) and as such, I would certainly hope that I would encourage my kids in whatever gender expression they feel most appropriate. So: boys in dresses? Absolutely. Girls calling themselves Thomas? Go for it. Children who feel neither entirely male nor entirely female? We'll use neutral pronouns and insist their school does the same. My circle of friends is majority LGBTQ/genderqueer/"radical" in all its iterations, and I live in one of the most open-minded cities in the world, so I don't really foresee this being much of an issue.
I read the first part of your post and immediately starting forming a reply something like this in my head. until I read you said that as well. I agree completely. I went to school with a girl who played football and all the boys thought she was great. But the boy who loved figured skating was bullied by boys and girls alike.
Originally Posted by pinkballerina
There's sometimes actually reverse discrimination with girls as well. I am the epitome of a girly-girl, and people don't seem to like that anymore. It gets really annoying when people don't like that stuff.
I mostly agree with kala_way. Although I would add that gender and sex roles are more than sociocultural; they are a part of our nature. They're not incidental.
I used to would have been right around where augusta_lee is on this issue but my thinking has, um, I'll say evolved. I have lived in San Francisco; I would no longer be very welcome there. I was rather radical Left as a youngster. I am now a conservative libertarian-ish Catholic.
So come to think of it, rather than stir up a hornet's nest I think I'm gonna go find a different thread. :-)
I personally dislike baby pink and baby blue, but I know for a lot of mothers it isn't exactly a choice. My sister was quite young when she had her first and most of her baby stuff was donated or borrowed or given to her at showers etc. When people hear that it's a girl, they buy pink. So despite the fact that she hated pink my sister had a closet full of pink clothes for her first daughter.
Originally Posted by charlieandperry1
Also, I know the reason a lot of people use the "expected" colors is so that they don't have to correct people all the time. It irritated my sister to no end when people would walk up and say, "Aww, your boy is so handsome!" Just because my niece was wearing jeans and a purple shirt. Apparently, if it's not in pink it's a boy, lol.
I do agree with your point that forcing children away from certain color choices in toys is crazy.
We were at a baseball game the other week and a father in front of us wouldn't by a cotton candy for his son because all the seller had left was pink! Seriously! It's candy, all strawberry/cherry/watermelon/raspberry/etc flavored candy is pink! Maybe he discourages the use of Pepto Bismol as well.
I definitely agree, and the cotton candy thing is ridiculous! But I think people go to far with it. Yes, girls shouldn't have to be in pink, but it should be acceptable if they are (and boys as well). It seems as if both genders are pushed to be more masculine.
Originally Posted by kala_way
I have to say I agree with this view. People often take it a little too far! Having studied how some parents are choosing to raise their kids Gender Neutral. Some parents need to really think about how this will affect their child's future.
Originally Posted by kala_way
Out of interest...how DO you think it will affect their child's future?
Originally Posted by isabellemarie