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Blue Is For Boys And Pink For Girls: It’s Time We Get Over It

Posted: July 23, 2015

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Blue is for boys and pink is for girls, the gender stereotype we need to do away with, because being a human being is about making choices, and gender has nothing to do with it.

The first time somebody mentioned about the boy-girl difference to me, I was around 8 and I never really understood. It did not come from my parents. It was an elderly waiter at an old drive inn. I wanted to buy a flute and I kept relentlessly whining for it. The waiter overheard me and told me that I cannot buy a flute. Apparently, that was reserved for boys. Instead, I was told, I must buy a kitchen set. To an oblivious 8-year-old, that sounded like a foreign language. I already had a kitchen set, and all my cousins including the boys were equally enthusiastic about a kitchen set as we sneakily made rotis in the backyard using a candle.

When I was a little older, in an argument with an unruly auto driver, when my sister protested at his unruliness, he told her, “Being a girl, you talk so much?”. I was fairly aware of this attitude, but when directly faced with a question like that, it made me really uncomfortable. At that point of time, it shocked me that he implied that girls aren’t meant to talk in a certain way.

Fortunately, I was spared at home from all the boy-girl riff raff.

Fortunately, I was spared at home from all the boy-girl riff raff. I am the younger one of the two sisters. My parents brought us up as individuals and for the most part of our childhood we did not hear more from that sort of think tank within our home. Dad pushed us to study harder, marriage was always considered secondary. In fact, both of us got married at our own insistence and to the men we chose.
Mom played her role by never ever mentioning to us that girls need to know household chores. We were also spared of the dramatic “People will say ‘is this what your mother taught you?'”
We never heard of money or gold put away or saved for our ‘marriage’. It was always for education & college fees.
Mom never taught us ‘cooking’. I barely strolled into the kitchen just to give my mum a hug and she’d shoo me away.
Sometimes I even thought something was odd about my parents. Why were they so different from the conventional?
Sometimes I even thought something was odd about my parents. Why were they so different from the conventional? It was only much later that I finally understood their view and why it differed so much from the norm that was followed in some homes.
 I learnt the ropes of home making soon enough after I started living with my husband.I went from asking my mother how to cook rice in a cooker over the phone to  eventually making a decent, healthy meal for two in 45 minutes. Sometimes I even indulge in some experimental cooking of an exotic dish as I scroll through the recipe on my phone. When the house help calls in sick, I manage to keep my home clean with some added help from my husband.
Looking back, I learned that I can pick up housekeeping and familial responsibilities without years of training, but I can’t pick up my postdoctoral degree without those 8 years of slogging in college.
Education is not just about the money you make. Education shapes the kind of person you are. It keeps you open to learning and it empowers you. Your degree might not be important, but your education, the exposure, and the experiences that come with it is priceless.
You would think, that mindsets evolve over a period of time.
 You would think, that mindsets evolve over a period of time, but even today, when I walk into a toy store, , to pick up something for my daughter, my eyes strain at the sight of an overdose of pink for girls. According to the store help, the superhero series are for the boys and the princesses and barbies are for the girls. Even the lady at the counter of the baby store insists on asking for the gender when I want to pick up a blanket for my daughter. Too many generalizations, I mutter under my breath, and my husband rolls his eyes at me, and asks her to show all the colours she has instead, just to avoid a conversation that would confuse the lady some more.
It’s not the colour that is the problem. Pink is a perfect colour alright. It’s these assumptions that slowly sneak its way from simpler things like toys into bigger, more pertinent things like gender roles. It goes from Girls have to wear pink, girls have to play with dolls, girls have to get back home early, girls have to dress up in a particular way, girls have to get married soon, girls have to cook, girls have to take care of the home , and so on.
If my daughter grows up to like pink, fair enough. If she instead picks up a hideous looking robot for a toy, that’s when I’d like to drown out the chatter of society and let her have it. Growing up, our little girls, need us, the new age parents not to fall for these subtle gender assumptions that are mostly assumed as harmless marketing gimmicks ,because sooner or later, it paves the way for much bigger, potentially harmful messages that are relayed to our daughters. And sons.
We must learn to be gender neutral right from the very beginning to ensure our children can be whoever they want to be and not what some sections of society want them to be.
Baby shoes image via Shutterstock

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