I don’t consider myself a feminist. Some of those ideas are short sighted, narrow minded and generally lack common sense or critical thinking. With that said, I am often irritated with gender stereotyping and the unnecessary divide that still exists, especially in the child rearing world.
A common debate among the human development and psychology gurus is nature versus nurture. Which one determines how a certain gender behaves, looks, dresses, and so on? It is of my opinion that there is more to nurture than most realize.
As a mom I’ve been careful not to push gender stereotypes on my children. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that gender is a fundamental part of life. But, that doesn’t mean that I have to dress my girls in tutus everyday.
As a parent I try to expose my kids to various things and let them decide what they like. For example, Katelyn loves the color blue. This is not common for young girls as pink or purple are often the choice colors. Abby loves purple and orange. (Seriously, orange?) She has always loved balls and cars (or anything with wheels). Would they know they liked these things if all I offered was pink play doh and aprons to play with?
Over the last year or so Katelyn started categorizing things in terms of gender. Observing her interactions at school, I realized those things were unintentionally being taught or reinforced at the school she attended. Her schoolmates were often unnecessarily separated girls from boys. It wasn’t uncommon for girls to play dress up while the boys tinkered with Legos.
Sadly, somewhere along the line Katelyn learned that blue is a color for boys. She still loved blue but was strangely conflicted when asked about her favorite color. More recently she has chosen to favor pink, which makes me sad in a way.
Additionally, it drives me nuts when someone says, “he’s so boy…” Or something similar. Just because a kid enjoys playing with cars doesn’t mean it’s because he’s male and he’s manifesting this inevitable boy characteristic. Likewise, I wish the sex of a child wasn’t used as an excuse to allow certain behaviors that are otherwise unacceptable for the opposite.
Of course I say all of this with only knowing my son for six months. At this point, there isn’t one trait that I can exclusively attribute to the fact that he’s a boy. (Besides the fact that he is, in fact, a boy).