Gender Norms, Cultural Stereotypes & Going Full Circle on the Fight of the Modern Parent
I would like to present to you an article which, were I able to do so, I would prefer to print out, highlight, and submit like a tract or flier full of SO MUCH YES about the experience of raising a child in our modern days. A girl, in my experience, but really, any child subjected to the mediated, consumerist, demanding world these days.
Here are a few shiny nuggets of pure gold for your reading pleasure, if you need any more convincing to read it, other than the fact that it is full of amazing gifs and punchlines and again, SO MUCH YES. And also, British English.
On The Whole Princess Thing
The princess thing, of course, is doubly worrying because not only are princesses generally helpless and only find fulfillment through marriage, but they are also parasitical members of noxious ruling class steeped in entrenched privilege, the influence of whom keeps Britain mired in Dark Ages deference to a tribe of inbred, crown-topped butler-enthusiasts.
On the nasty consumerism underlying so much of the gendered toys insanity
The more the toy aisles can look completely different, the less can be shared, and the more we all have to buy. It’s not a function of wanting to keep girls and boys in traditional gender roles as much as the fact that a handily-segmented market is easier for corporations to navigate.
On raising boys in the midst of this gendered consumerist culture
..you’ll notice that something else is rarely mentioned.
In the Lego lines not-very-subtlety marketed to boys we rarely complain about how violent and limiting those roles are. The Lego City is mainly full of criminals and police officers, Ninjago is ninjas, Lego Castle is mainly knights and boiling oil: almost every playset is about combat of some kind.
But there aren’t online petitions about this. There is no network of blogs for ‘gentle boys’ comparable to those for ‘fierce girls’.
Just as important, I’d argue, as getting our girls embracing more powerful role models, is getting our sons to embrace less powerful ones. Or to give every child the option of finding where their natural interests lie, what their instincts about fun are, and closing off no avenues to them.
On realizing that we are our children’s biggest influence
We should recognise that if we want our children to live full lives, we have to live that in front of them.
Rather than tell them how it should be in a world that’s equal, we should seek to live one in front of them.
Because for all the influences of toys and films and adverts and pop culture and school, they live with us every day.
If they can see and feel a different world, if their lived experience is of a more equal world, then that will become the way they live their lives. And let Lego do their worst.
What I appreciate most about this article is how well and humorously it presents the “full circle” that parents go through on many of these issues as time goes on.
I’ve always tried to be very balanced in my approach to dealing with gender norms in our home. I have avoided outright rejecting pink because I believe colors are for everyone, and if my daughter wants to choose a pink thing, then I don’t want to limit her from it. I enjoy pink things, sparingly, and in context. Various hues of it pair nicely with my preferred aqua, turquoise, and sky blue preferences. Nothing is wrong with pink as a color.
But I totally identify with how easy it is to throw over on the other side in the AGAINST PINK CAMP. Say, for example, when your toddler has had a fairly even approach to learning her colors until she becomes more socialized with other (talking, clearly pink-influenced) toddler girls her age, and suddenly, inexplicably, can identify pink in all its glorious shades and colors at the drop of a hat and from miles away, but still defaults to calling all other colors “green” in a pinch (it was the first one she learned?). Yes, there is an undeniable socialization of pink as the color club for girls. So I get how easy it is to have a knee-jerk reaction against pink.
But as with most things, gender norms, color standards, and consumerist trends all have a myriad of nuances and reasons and points-of-view-from-which-to-view them. And this article does a hilariously well plotted job of lying them all out, the hills and valleys and ups and downs of perspective on raising kids in the middle of all this.
What’s your take? Would love to hear your thoughts in a comment.