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Thread: Gender Stereotyping
May 11th, 2013 01:27 PM #71Senior Member
- Join Date
- Mar 2013
Ultimately, I agree with what Kala_way has said:
I live in an area where gender stereotypes can be strictly enforced (of course I know people who don't enforce them, but they are in the minority)...for example, it's pretty normal to encounter a family with a baby girl who is dressed head to toe in pink, lace, pearls (very in right now on babies, apparently), etc. And the giant flower headbands. Oh, the giant flower headbands. For 95% of the mothers I know, it's a crime not to put a ghastly giant flower headband on your daughter. Because if you don't, a random stranger might momentarily mistake your daughter for a boy. And this is a horror that a mother can never recover from. So it is indeed very common to encounter a baby girl wearing, for example: a pink dress, with lace leggings, and the most feminine shoe that can be found (or bare feet with toenails painted a shade of pink), a headband sporting a flower as big as the baby's head, pierced ears, and a bracelet. I'm not even exaggerating. You can walk into any random place and find a little girl dressed like this.
Oddly, the hyper-feminization of baby girls doesn't include their names. You'll find anything from classic girls names to made-up names to surnames as names to boy names on girls. But this affects something else:
Because parents of girls put such hyper-feminine expectations on their daughters, they are also putting hyper-masculine expectations on their sons. As one acquaintance put it, parents don't want their sons to have a name that has been "tainted with femininity." So more and more you'll find parents who just name their sons the most masculine word they can think of. Gunner. Rage. Chaos. Rowdy. Riot. Trigger. You get the idea. If it can be associated with violence and destruction it apparently works perfectly as a name for a boy! Until someone names a girl Chaos or Rage and then those names won't be masculine enough, at which time I have no idea what these people plan to do.
And, like you'd expect, these names and expectations carry over to how people raise their kids. Nothing quite makes my blood boil as much as the phrase "boys will be boys," uttered to me by moms on the playground in defense of their child's poor behavior. For some reason, their daughters are decently-behaved, if a little cliquey, and their boys are completely out of control. I once took the child I was nannying to a local park where an older boy immediately threw a handful of sand into her face...his mom laughed, looked at me with a shrug and said "he's all boy." This is the attitude of many people where I live, and I can't help but assume it's directly related to their gender stereotypes.
And obviously I disagree with this. But there are also a smaller number of people here who have decided that children should be gender-neutral even if it isn't what they want. And I also disagree with that. I know a family whose son is encouraged into stereotypically feminine hobbies and interests, but his little sister who also enjoys those things, is encouraged into more tomboyish activities. It's sad to me that her parents are more interested in making some sort of political statement than they are about doing what is best for each individual kid. Their son loves the activities that he's in, but their daughter would prefer the more feminine activities as well.
As Encore said, there also seems to be a small sort of anti-girly girl movement. I notice this very little in my own life, because of the area in which I live; however, I subscribe to a few feminist blogs and have noticed the anti-girly girl stuff happening there. I've encountered several dozen commenters who are wildly against girls being "allowed" to own anything in pink, any dolls/barbies, any dresses or skirts or dress-up clothes, any dance classes, etc. Each of these commenters avow that their daughters will be tomboys and will love it. But that's just the thing, you can't make a kid love something. They're their own person, with their own preferences, and pushing them toward one thing and away from another thing won't change them.
I am a nanny for two girls: the oldest is the ultimate girly-girl. Princesses and sparkles and dresses and shoes. Like the child genuinely prefers shopping trips to playdates. Her perfect day would be a long trip to the mall where she could buy every dress and every pair of shoes she wanted. She loves ballet and pink and princesses and the other day when we were riding bikes together she announced that we were riding our bikes "to Paris, to shop for some lovely ballgowns"...I have no idea where she heard this, it certainly wasn't from myself or her parents. But that's how she is, and how she's always been. Her younger sister, on the other hand, is more of the traditional idea of a tomboy. She wants to be running and jumping and climbing things constantly. She has no patience for dress-ups and princess crowns or having her hair styled; when they play make-believe she prefers to be the dragon that is attacking the princess. It's her personality and forcing her into a frilly pink dress isn't going to change that. There are always people willing to criticize the parents of these kids; they think the oldest is too frilly or the youngest is too tomboyish. Everyone has an opinion of what should be done about these kids' natural preferences towards how they play, and it drives me crazy. Can't we just let kids be themselves?I hope to be a mom one day. For now I enjoy being a name lover.
My apologies for any typos; i post from my mobile phone.