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“Mamma let us donate my all the fairy tales’ books to poor children box”, declared my son on his way back from school.
All of a sudden my hand trembled on steering wheel and I pinched myself to make sure that I am not dozing off and dreaming. My little cheapskate never allows anybody to touch his story books or his toys, even the broken ones. Not even me!
In fact he always suspects that in his absence, I throw out his old toys and torn books. Now he is talking about donation, that too his much-loved fairy tale books! So my greater aim behind enrolling him into a Missionary School is finally successful, I thought and smiled to myself.
My thoughts were interrupted with his next announcement “Today I have received my library card and we were taken to the library for a book reading session”. I looked back at him with a broad smile “It’s too good, so which book you have read today?”
Two tiny sad eyes looking out through the window pane. I sensed something was wrong but continued to focus on the road.
Back home after the refreshment he asked me, “Mamma, is Oliver Twist also a fairy tale or boys can read it? If so, in the next library session, I will ask for that”.
I was totally confused with this question. For the first time I came to know that there exists a division of literature for boys and girls. When he was in the library, one of his friends who is a girl was reading a fairy tale book. Out of curiosity, he asked her about that book and she laughed at him saying “Are you a girl that you want to see this book?”
All other friends started laughing too. He grew up with bed time stories of Cinderella, Pinocchio Thumbelina, Hansel and Gretel, Tom Thumb etc. Both of us enjoyed together these wonderful literary creations, never knowing that there is gender-wise segregation of literature. Now my eight year old boy is reluctant to read his most favorite books because he was mocked in school by friends of his own age. It was shocking for him.
But I wonder how that little girl knew those books are only for girls? And it seems many other children of his class are also aware of it. Is it their parents who told them or the teachers? It is definitely not the fault of these young ones that they are victim to our biased social value.
Blue for boys, pink for girls; Comic books for boys, Fairy tales for girls; Toy cars for boys, Barbie Dolls for girls and the rule of division goes on and on. If a child does not follow this rule, he or she will be teased by friends. This way from early childhood we are pushing gender discrimination into these little heads. And, it is very unfortunate that the seeds are being planted by us… the well-educated, well placed modern age parents.
A version of this was first published here.
Image via Pexels
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