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As a modern parent, how aware are you of gender neutral books and toys? Would you get your son a doll or your daughter a fire truck?
In the era of ipads, twitter and instagram; we the modern parent take pride in showing no gender biases to our kids. We spend on our children, provide education, encourage sports and activities regardless of the gender of our child. Our aim for our child is that he/ she is healthy, well-educated and gets all the exposure possible in today’s globalised world order. However, I wonder how many of us are truly gender neutral in our daily lives. There may be some areas where we remain conditioned in our heads.
We may be stuck in stereotyping books and toys according to the gender. So the big question is – are toys marketed differently by pink and blue standards because of our (parent’s) notions? Or are our notions getting defined by the marketing methods? Can we change, and if yes to what extent?
Do you think you are gender neutral when picking stuff for your kids? Some quick questions that dare to check your mental tuning:
Would you ever buy a pink stroller for your boy?
Would you buy a dollhouse for your boy?
Would you buy the Disney pink lego sets for your boy?
The maximum answers to above I think would range from vehement NOs to Nos. One may hear a mom talk about how her son plays with the sister’s or friend’s dollhouse (on a play date) but buying a doll for a boy is another story.
Lets address the questions towards the parents of a girl child:
Would you buy cars and gun toys for your girl?
Would you buy avenger t-shirts and toys for your girl?
Would you give her accessories like hand bags and hair clips that have the batman printed on them? Do they even exist? Does she even like the idea of them?
The maximum answers to above I think would range from Nos to maybe.
While the concept of girls who are ‘tomboys’ or play with so called boy toys is still understood and acceptable, I don’t know of a word that can be used for a boy who plays with Barbies, that is not offensive in interpretation. The word effeminate is unmanly and worse words like poncey and faggy come to mind.
As a parent I have Nick Jr, Disney channel, Pogo and other networks on my TV. It is blindingly obvious during commercials that one does not see boys and girls playing together. Perhaps one can see them playing together in a water park or a board game. How can children broaden their horizons if we as parents, or the toy companies stunt their growth by dictating their toys and books based on gender.
I am a proud mother of a 5 year old boy who tries to see no gender when it comes to my boy’s imagination while playing with toys. I do want my boy to know that girls and women are at par with the boys. So, I do read to him stories with girl protagonists and thankfully he does enjoy them. For Christmas he wanted a red heart shaped pillow. His favourite stickers are the little red hearts and stars. He loves colouring with neon pink. I have bought kitchen sets and art and craft kits for him but pink lego sets or pink curtains in his room – that is a no.
So yes, I think our (parents’) minds are conditioned and that there is some room for change. Thankfully, we do find Barbie dolls that are a scientist or an astronaut and science kits that show girls and boys experimenting. But we are quite far from boy tooth-fairies.
So, where are we heading and what is the aim? Maybe someday we can achieve gender neutrality in books and toys, a 100 percent or close. Maybe that day you will see baby boys in pink strollers. Maybe Captain America could be a girl and maybe boy fairies could be shown in cartoons.
However, that day is I think far and until then it is up to us to try and raise our children devoid of the preconceived notions and allow each child to be an individual with personal preferences. It Is up to us to raise our children without any gender biases. And maybe our style of raising our children will change the way the colours of toys are assigned and the aisles of blue and pink in super marts just may merge.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay