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It is we who consciously or subconsciously introduce children to common gender stereotypes of "boys don't do this"!
Boys do the same things as girls at an early age. It is we who consciously or subconsciously introduce them to common gender stereotypes of boys don’t do this!
As parents, and the first as well as lifelong teachers for our kids, we are always on heels and toes to teach them things. The dos and don’ts of life – age specific. As per the views we hold, we try to evaluate our child’s actions or even thoughts as they grow older; and if we don’t feel it right, we try to coach them.
Expectation of gender specific behavior is sometimes subconscious. Sometimes I am not even aware when I end up making gender stereotypical comments or decisions for my son. Below is a list of things which in full awareness I would not teach my son to do.
‘Boys don’t cry’ is something I have heard all my life. Crying cleanses your eyes and soothes your heart. Tears are sometimes the only solution to emotional distress. And if one is to raise emotionally sensitive and caring human beings (girls or boys) you can never take away the right to cry.
One of the modern additions to gender stereotype is the selection of color. Pink for girls and blue for boys. However the color distinction came across, it has been ruthlessly re-inforced by the retail industry. One has no choice but to dress your boys in blue and colors in the spectrum around blue!
My 3 year old loves his pink Dora bag and sports it everywhere he goes. And I would be lying if I said I never got commented on it once in a while. The moment he sits to color the first crayon (and sometimes the only one) he uses is purple. Would I lean him away from his instincts towards something apparently more suited to his being a boy? Never!
I would love to paint the walls in his room pink with flowers and his ceiling blue, and if my little one shares my interest, one day I would surely do it.
Kitchen is one place where we still see girls spending more time and energy than boys. A little girl’s interest in making rotis with her toy rolling pin or help her mother decorate cupcakes is encouraged. Whereas little boys are not even allowed a kitchen set!
When we talk about equality, the first thing in Indian culture which needs fixing is kitchen matters. We still hesitate in giving our boys the rolling pin and that has to change. If to make a girl independent we give her education and career apart from everything else, boys need to know how to fix their own meals and put dishes away to be truly self-sufficient.
It is very natural for us to gift dolls to girls and cars to boys. However, as a toddler all his toys were gender neutral.
As he grew older, he grew affinity towards trains, cars and trucks. It was a natural choice and it’s all good. However his occasional desires to play with a toy stroller or a kitchenette is not something which we avoid. He might love to dance or play soccer or probably just enjoy sewing! None of his choices would be judged on the manliness scale.
Feminist goals would be truly achieved when the world doesn’t need feminism anymore. Hence along with empowering our girls, we need to empower our boys too, albeit in the right way.
Image source: boy cooking by Shutterstock.
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I watched a Tamil movie Kadaisi Vivasayi (The Last Farmer), recommended by my dad, on SonlyLiv, and many times over again since my first watch. If not for him, I’d have had no idea what I would have missed. What a piece of relevant and much needed art this movie is!
It is about an old farmer in a village (the only indigenous farmer left), who walks the path of trouble, quite unexpectedly, and tries to come out of it. I have tried my best to refrain from leaving spoilers, for I want the readers to certainly catch up on this masterpiece of director Manikandan (of Kakka Muttai fame).
The movie revolves around the farmer who goes about doing his everyday chores, sweeping his mud-house first thing in the morning, grazing the cows, etc and living a simple but contented life. He is happy doing his thing, until he invites trouble for himself out of the blue, primarily because he is illiterate and ignorant.