Friday 27 May 2011

Feminist Friday VII: Gender Roles

If you read my Pretty in Pink post then the opinions expressed in this post will come as no surprise to you. My inspiration for the theme this week came after my best friend sent me an article about a Canadian couple who are keeping their youngest child's sex a secret so they can be "unconstrained by social norms about males and female." I'll be honest, I didn't make it through the whole article, but my take on it can be summed up quite easily:

There is a big difference between raising a genderless child and raising a child free of gender stereotypes. I would hope and aim to raise Blondie Boy free of gender stereotypes.

He's too young to make decisions based on stereotypes now himself and I won't force or allow others to force stereotypes on him.  If he wants to play with what society tells us are "boy's toys", so be it, and if he wants to play with what society tells us are "girl's toys", then that's fine too.  We don't think about gender when we buy him toys and, to be honest, I'm pretty sure he has more pink tops than he does blue.

If when he's old enough to ask for gifts and ask for a Disney princess dress-up outfit he is more than welcome to it, but in the same way I'm not going to buy him a tutu just in case.  Children should be free to be who they are and play what they want to play with without society telling them they are right or wrong.

We've visited a friend's house and Blondie Boy decided he wanted to push around a pink baby doll pram; my friend chuckled "what would NotBlondeHusband say if he saw that." He wouldn't care. She replied her husband wouldn't be happy if it was her son.  Now if her husband's disapproval was real or just for show I don't know. What is so offensive about a boy pushing a pink baby pram? Would it be as offensive if it was a little girl playing football?

Anyone who knows me will know that I love make-up, the color pink, ribbons, glitter and baking; but I'm adult and those are things I've chosen to like. Do they fall into gender stereotypes of women? Yes. NotBlondeHusband will also point out that I don't ever cook and I rate burps on a 5 point scale: things that you'd probably pin as male gender stereotypes.

Blondie Boy loves to sing and dance, cuddle stuffed animals, play with cars, build towers, read books, climb, run, colour and a whole other host of things. I don't see any of these as being things he should or shouldn't do because he's a boy--these are just things he likes to do and I will always support and encourage his interests. 

I'm not suggesting you need to encourage your children to rebel against gender stereotypes, but what I am saying is if my child chooses to rebel against what society says is normal I will support him. Our DNA doesn't tell us what is suitable for boys and for girls, it is society that creates cultural norms and correct me if I'm wrong but culture isn't always right.

So I'm proud my little boy shakes his booty to Lady Gaga and equally as proud of the massive Duplo towers he builds.  He's my little boy and I'm happy as long as he is being himself.

Gender Roles

Here's how it works. Write a blog post about being a feminist mom, raising a feminist child, a rant or anything that falls under the realm of being a feminist mom based or the theme for the week. Come back and link your post and post the button on your blog.

That's it.

You don't even have to be a blogger to take part - just send me your post and I will publish it on my blog for you. You don't even have to include your name if you prefer.

When you've published it, come back on Friday and via a widget thing you can add a link to your post and share it with everyone. The link remains open for 4 days.

Visit others, comment if you like them or feel inspired by them. Just go out and encourage and support other feminist Moms.

The more support you give, the more you will get back! I can't wait to meet and interact with other feminist moms around the world!


tobgirl said...

Very much with you on this one Melaina - I haven't pushed my four year old into playing with cars and trains, he seems to have gravitated in that direction naturally.

Similarly I was at a friends and he spent the afternoon running around with a pink buggy - I have NO objections to this and if he wanted one I would buy him one.

He asked for a hoover last xmas and that's what he got. He also loves Lady Gaga, but on the other hand, jumps around mad to the Prodigy as well!

As you say, we support their choices, but I would very much draw the line at raising him without a gender - like it or not, our children are born male or female, we just have to guide them best we can and be supportive if our boys want to wear pink or our girls want to kick a football around all day.


Anonymous said...

I see lots of boys pushing prams at playgroups. The thing is, kids are role playing and copying what their parents do. And in this day and age, it's completely normal for dads to be puching a pram and cooking a meal, so why on earth do some people think it's odd for a boy to have a toy pushchair or kitchen?!
My daughter is 4, an age where she is staring to be aware that she "should" like pink, ballerinas and fairies. And that's fine, but she's never been pushed into anything by us. She also likes grabbing handfuls of dirt in the garden, riding her bike and rolling down hills getting grass stains on her pink clothes.
I often think it's a shame that so many boys clothes are such boring colours tbh.

san said...

My thoughts exactly. Very well said. x

Kate said...

Totally agree. I never bought guns/swords for either of my boys but, through watching TV, playing with friends etc, they starting making them themselves (rolled up newspaper, lego - everything became a sword!) Neither of my boys veered towards playing with 'female' toys .. but I certainly wouldn't have discouraged them. I do think that eventually, most children gravitate towards what all their friends do ... like being an outsider and liking something different is seen as taboo.

You raise a very good point as usual! x

Kat said...

I have to admit I read that article in the Daily Fail...errmmmm I mean Mail about the Canadian family and my very eloquent comment was "how stupid!". My girls are just as capable of playing in dirt with sticks as they are at dressing up as princesses. It is a load of bollocks to raise a "gender neutral" child, however, encouraging your child to play any way that they feel comfortable, that's good parenting.

mtendere said...

My mom was a kindergarten teacher for many years and sai that she would often have parents that got upset that she let the boys play with "girl" things like dolls and kitchen stuff. There is a double standard to a degree, but there's also a lot of "girly" things that I don't want Sprout to play with either until she specifically asks for it. And I get plenty of eye rolls for the trucks and blocks and "boy" toys and clothes we have for her.

Tattieweasle said...

One of my boys goes to sewing class the other would not be seen dead in pink - I love them both to bits. Why can't society just let children be?

SusanKMann said...

I fully agree, children should be children. They should be able to play with what they want, not told what they should play with. As you seen from my silent sunday picture I bought my two pink hedgehogs, they are boys and love pink. They do love cars and football but equally they love tangles. Each to their own. x

Penny P.S. and A Residence said...

What a fab linky. Wish I had more time to join in this week. I'm with you. I think we have to strike a balance between teaching our children to not be limited by their gender, to respect gender and to celebrate their gender. So whilst a genderless child avoids stereotypes, I also feel they are being denied the positives.
Great to have some intelligent debate.
Future debates - the division of labour? ;)
Please add me to the twitter group @Aresidence

Melaina25 said...

Hi there 

I think my Femme and Grist post Pink Stinks would have fitted better under this weeks topic-it's  under the Violence heading at present.

To my mind gender is a social construct. We are born with a sex not a gender. Children will play with whatever takes their fancy but they are influenced by media, peers and parental example too. I could go's a huge topic