I will start this by stating something I believe to be very important:
Femininity does not equal weakness.
When it comes to the subject of gender stereotyping I think sometimes this very important statement is missed. The image is put out there by those who are against gender stereotyping toys and clothes that girls playing with traditionally girly things is bad, but girls playing with trucks, cars and blocks is good.
If a little girl wants to play with a baby doll that’s a good thing. Baby dolls teach our children to nurture and treat small humans gently and with care. Learning to be caring and gentle with a doll suggests the child will grow to be a caring and loving parent, and we know the world needs more of those.
If a little girl is told she has to play with a baby doll because she’s a girl that’s a bad thing. Having a womb does not mean you have to grow a baby in it. Being capable of being a mother does not mean you have to be maternal. Playing with dolls will not mean you will definitely be a good mother. If a little girl has no interest in baby dolls it doesn’t mean she will be a bad mother.
If a little boy is told he can’t play with a baby doll because he’s a boy, that’s a bad thing. Boys grow into men, and men become fathers. Fathers need to be just as emotionally connected to their children, just as gentle and loving, and if a little boy wants to treat a doll in that way that is something which should be encouraged. Loving, gentle and caring fathers should be developed from a young age.
If a little girl wants to play with Lego that’s a good thing. Lego is great. It encourages creativity, develops fine motor skills, and is super fun for parents too. Pink Lego’s are ace too. I’m a lover of all colours so pink Legos, green Legos, orange Legos… they’re all equally awesome. Whatever colours she wants to use or not use, great.
If a little girl is told she has to play with pink Lego, that’s bad. The marketting of pink Lego as girl’s toys, including little shops and hair salons (because girls can shop and get their hair done… boys can fly space ships be pirates…) is quite frankly offensive. Bring in new colours all you want, I happen to like pink, but bring it out as just Lego not “girl’s Lego”. It’s all girl’s Lego. Having a vagina does not mean you’re only allowed to use things in the colour pink!
If a little boy is told he can’t play with pink Lego that’s bad. Pink is a colour. It is of equal value to all other colours. If he wants to have a hair salon Lego set, let him. Boy’s get their hair done too. It all fits together the same way, develops motor skills and imagination in the same way. It’s just Lego and it is available in all the colours of the rainbow. Go, build, play.
Girls can drive cars, so they can play with cars. Boys can cook food, so they can play with kitchens. Girls can become engineers, so they can play with blocks. Boys can have pets, so they can play with fluffy kitten toys.
There is nothing weak about being a woman, therefore there is nothing weak about dressing like one or being interested in feminine things. Whether you are born with a vagina or a penis it is irrelevent because there are no children’s toys that require the use of your genitals to operate them.
Miss Rose loves pink. She loves tutus and sparkles and pretty shoes. Her favourite toys are a robot, her trains, her cars and her blocks. She will dress like a fairy and then crash trains into one another. She will ask to wear make up then shoot at me with her Spiderman gun.
It is adults who impose “gender norms”, “gender stereotypes”, on children. When left to their own devices some will conform, others won’t, but either way they’re expressing their own individual identity and own interests. What gets in the way of that is adults in shops lining blue toys up under a “Boy’s Toys” banner, and pink toys up under a “Girl’s Toys” banner, and parents going along with that kind of idiocy and taking their children down the aisles according to those rules.
Stop it. Kids are kids. Toys are toys. Their genitals should not effect what they can and can’t play with.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!