Pinks and Blues: Why Do We Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes?

Posted: September 30, 2015

Before we fault the world for its stereotypes of women and men, let us understand that gender biases begin fairly and squarely at home.

Mumma (asking her son fondly): Son, which colour do you like?

Son: Mumma, I like pink!

Mumma: Oh! But that’s a girl color, how about blue?

Son: No mumma, I like pink!

Daughter: Mumma, but I like blue!!!

Mumma: Something is wrong with BOTH of you!!! 

As parents, have we ever found ourselves trying to “fit” our children into the mould of being a boy or girl? Have we ever felt flustered if our son likes to play with dolls more and our daughter has a clear preference for cars? 

The theory of evolution says that after some decades genders and their characteristics will dissolve and we will become a unified species with unique characteristics, be it a man or a woman.

Let me tell you a personal story, which relates one of the many reasons I’m proud of my mother. When my sister and I were growing up, I had a clear preference for books and frocks whereas my sister loved her shorts. She would find herself interested in everything my father did – be it putting a painting on the wall or fixing something wrong with his scooter. She hated frocks and skirts but loved playing with her Barbie doll (which was, then, the coolest doll ever!). My father found it very weird for a girl to behave this way but my sister refused to be discouraged.  My mother nurtured her and let he grow up to be who she wanted to be.

When my sister and I were growing up, I had a clear preference for books and frocks whereas my sister loved her shorts. She would find herself interested in everything my father did – be it putting a painting on the wall or fixing something wrong with his scooter. She hated frocks and skirts but loved playing with her Barbie doll. My father found it very weird for a girl to behave this way but my mother nurtured her and let he grow up to be who she wanted to be.

Today, she has the most (so-called) feminine attributes but most of her friends are still of the opposite gender! Should this make us “judge” her as a tomboy? Just because our gender roles demand us to be a certain way?

I’m not here to “dismiss” what is or isn’t meant for men and women. I’m in the process of discovering how these roles came about and what this means for our times.

 Today, men and women play equal roles in society, as part of the workforce, as part of domestic lives but still we try to force-fit our children into assigned gender roles. We worry if our children don’t fit the moulds we have created. I feel this is where gender biases begin. They begin in childhood and grow into our society and our worlds.

Men have been assigned the characteristics of being tough, aggressive, people who don’t cry, don’t express, don’t get emotional, need to take care of their families, need to be the breadwinners, etc. I know so many men who cry more than women, who would love to be house husbands, and what is wrong with that? Are we being fair to either genders, if we expect them to be a certain way? Yes, physically there will be differences, but we are free to be who we really want to be, like what we really like.

Men have been assigned the characteristics of being tough, aggressive, people who don’t cry, don’t express, don’t get emotional, need to take care of their families, need to be the breadwinners, etc. I know so many men who cry more than women, who would love to be house husbands, and what is wrong with that?

As couples, we could probably look at what we’re really good at and do those chores at home rather than what we’re assigned to do. This means, cleaner homes, tastier food, better lives!

 If we ever want to end biases against women or men for that matter, we must dive deep into gender biases as a whole and examine whether we really need this in our worlds and eventually, in the generations of our future.

Let’s give this thought a start by being a sensitive and open-minded parent and then watch our children develop into people who can add value into the world.

Image via Shutterstock.

A Learning &Development geek , studied English Literature in Lady Shri Ram College (Delhi University), passionate

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2 Comments


  1. Nicely written Priya. We see so many frustrating signs that separate girls from boys and vise versa. Boy toys/ girl toys, boywear/girlswear, emotions, love, chores everything divided as per gender. The conventional wisdom of he and she types is leading us nowhere. Let’s face it as it’s for real and something drastic need to happen to level the play. Hopefully Soon!

  2. Pingback: Sudha Samyukta: An open letter – what will happen next? | Speak Now.

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