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Overcoming Gender Stereotypes

Posted: May 26, 2011

pink_blue Unless you had been living under a rock the past one week, you must have heard about the Canadian couple who have decided to raise their child genderless. They have not revealed the gender of their third child and this news has been making waves all over the internet. While I do not agree with the parents’ choice (which I find too extreme), I can’t help but nod my head when they say there are gender stereotypes.

Even before the baby is born, parents start to buy a few essential things and gender plays a big picture there. For Indians, knowing the gender of the baby is not a choice, so we go with gender neutral colors, but parents in other countries choose colors and toys based on the gender of the baby. They end up choosing pink and pastels for girls and blues and bold colors for boys. I personally know one woman who designed her nursery with a pink theme (she thought she was going to have a girl), but when she realized it was a boy, she sold all of it and bought new things in blue color.

As the baby grows, more choices are made based on the gender. It’s dolls for girls whereas guns for boys. Pink crocs for girls and blue gliders for boys. It gets worse as you grow. Barbie for girls and bey blades for boys.

We can raise our children ‘genderless’ in many ways. Let the boy play with dolls if he likes (mine does) and if the girl does not like wearing lacy frocks, let her be. The sky is not going to fall over if boys wear pink and girls play with guns. As parents, we do have some control over how our child sees the world and let us use that to make it as gender-neutral as possible.

Anamika is a working mother who is constantly trying to conquer the mythical work-life balance. She knits and reads when she manages to find some spare time. She blogs about her experiences with motherhood on her blog, A Slice of Life.

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  1. I am not sure but I did have an experience that made me wonder that gender stereotyping is genetic. a friend of mine had a third daughter around the time I had a son after two daughters. Since we had to offer his birth hair at the temple of our family deity I was growing my son’s hair while my friend cropped her daughter’s hair short and made her wear shorts. We attended a b;day party together and a person unknown to both of us asked whether her child was a boy or girl.
    Your guess? asked my friend.

    A girl, the stranger said.

    Why do you think so?

    This child has been playing with a doll ever since she came but this child (my son in a pony tail) does not even give dolls a second glance.

    I could not explain why it was so. i had no role in making him want to climb grills and scale walls. He did it naturally. And with all the male attire her mother forced my friend’s child to wear she was a natural when it came to playing with dolls.

    • Guest Blogger -

      I agree with you, some traits are genetic. There is a reason why most boys are restless and hyper-active and most of the girls are gentle and caring. But, nobody should have a problem if a boy decides to play with dolls or a girl plays with guns.

  2. Pingback: 10 Children’s Books That Teach Diversity | The Alternative

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