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Gender stereotypes

While it is often stressed that one should raise children open-minded and tolerant, reality unfortunately is that it is made harder than you would think and not necessarily for the obvious reasons. Many things in our society are based on and/or promote gender stereotypes, some consciously, some subconsciously, but all too often parents are faced with criticism or even inability to break these stereotypes.

You can find stereotypes virtually everywhere, in people’s minds, in stores, in restaurants, in magazines and in many different facets. The thing that we have been facing many times ourselves is the stereotype of boys with long hair, or rather of them not supposed to have these. While there are more of them out there than one would think (check out our “Boys Have Long Hair, Too” blog carnival), it happens on an almost weekly basis that Nico is thought to be a girl, even though he only wears boy clothes (so lots of dark blues) and it is something that we are not alone with for sure. It is widely accepted that girls can have short hair and still be a girl, but at the same time a long-haired boy is facing stereotyping pretty much anywhere, even though not ill-willed.

Our society also still makes clear distinctions between things boys should do and things girls should do, which often is related to jobs or, well, stereotypes. Boys play with cars and tools, girls play with dolls and kitchen stuff. Nico loves to bake and cook, while most boys you see rather run, fight, wrestle and everything, play with soldiers and cowboys, so he is swimming against the stream in this respect as well (even though he does love his tools as well, even more so if they are real), and this point leads me to the next…

Pretend baking mixing…when I was talking about the inability to break these stereotypes, I did not mean that parents themselves could not, but that stores are not making it easy (or even possible) to do so. Try to find small (toy) kitchen appliances or an Easy-Bake oven in anything that is not pink or purple and you will have one heck of a time to do so! But you will find pink hand tools etc as well, so makes it a little bit easier for the girls to be emancipated than the boys. This stretches into the clothing section as well, where you will find pretty much everything under the sun on the girls’ side and a somewhat limited selection for the boys, which is also somewhat saddening, since if anything boys are often a little more rambunctious and prone to dirtying clothes (oops, I let a gender stereotype sneak into this…)…

So the morale to the story is – yes, let boys be boys and girls be girls, but at least give them a fighting chance to experience other things without being looked at weirdly. There are stereotypes everywhere, in people’s minds, in stores and it is time to break them down and get away from the prefabricated roles.

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14 comments to Gender stereotypes

  • I agree with you 100% that gender stereotypes have gotten a bit out of hand. I was just talking with a friend about the lack of options at the stores for clothing and toys that aren’t bright pink. My son loves to cook, wear an apron, play with baby dolls, etc. He doesn’t think twice about picking up a Strawberry Shortcake tea set and serving up tea to his family, so why should I stop him? He also loves cars, tractors, and playing in the dirt, too. I think that if you make certain toys/activities off limits, then you are taking away so many options for your little one to discover their special talents and likes. Love this post…well said!
    Gina recently posted..1, 2, 3 ~ Counting Sensory BinMy Profile

    • Valérie

      Totally agreed Gina! Thanks for the comment :)

    • Alex

      Hi Gina, thanks for the comment :) Isn’t it odd that in a time, where everybody keeps harping about openmindedness and emancipation we as parents are hit by that kind of stuff? I mean, it’s not as if there are no male cooks and chefs out there…

  • Chloe

    Constructive Playthings has kitchen appliances in a blue/white combo! They are great for gender neutral play!

  • Amber

    This reminds me of a story my mother in law told me that still gets her annoyed just thinking about. My husband’s kindergarten teacher called her in for a conference one day and while she didn’t outright say it, she strongly implied she was worried my husband might be gay because he never wanted to play with the “boy” toys during free play. He apparently gravitated towards less rowdy, more intellectual toys such as books and puzzles which his teacher thought of as “girl” toys. Needless to say my mother in law had some not so nice words in reply to that teacher.

  • I think toy companies have proven with sales figures that if they make a “girl” and “boy” set they make more money than having one gender neutral option. As parents we really have to be vigilant about what our children are exposed too, you are right the gender stereotypes are EVERYWHERE, sigh…
    Kara recently posted..Simple Book MakingMy Profile

    • Alex

      Hi Kara, thanks for your comment. If they did make a boy version of, say, kitchen appliances etc., it would be ok. Still a cash grab, but still at least you’d have an option… Unfortunately in regular stores it is almost impossible to find. Sharing your *sigh*

  • I totally agree with this. This is something I have always been passionate about after I took a gender studies course in college. One thing that particularly irks me is gender stereotyped toys. I have a daughter and it seems like everything is pink! I try to buy her gender neutral toys but good intentioned family members keep buying her stereotypical “girl” toys.
    Brittany recently posted..Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie for Mommy and Child!My Profile

  • [...] Gender Stereotypes in Society Gender stereotypes are everywhere, among friends, colleagues, at stores and pretty much anywhere else in life. Alex, from Glittering Muffins and father to Nico {an energetic three and a half year old} looks at how difficult it can be to keep an open mind.    [...]

  • We also fall under gender stereotypes {every day}! I keep hearing: “Oh, your daughter looks like a boy!” For me personally, no infant looks like anything (unless dressed in a dress!) till around 1-1.5 years old. Even then most of the children don’t have the feminine or masculine look YET.
    And with our older daughter, often she is told that she behaves like a boy. And really, sometimes for the lack of better words, I use the label as well. My new resolution is to actually rid of it – girls and boys can be active, naughty and feisty.
    Varya @ littleartists recently posted..Kids Co-OpMy Profile

  • I get so frustrated that kitchen and doll-themed toys tend to come exclusively in pink. Of course boys can like pink, but society definitely has a higher tolerance for girls to do “boy” things than the other way around, and I don’t like that.
    maryanne @ mama smiles recently posted..Seven Years Ago Today: Emma’s Birth StoryMy Profile

  • that’s so true… girls can have any length hair, but there’s an unspoken rule about how boys hair should look. as for the pink toys, we’ve been struggling to find a doll stroller that isn’t pink or purple.. thanks for participating in the carnival!

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