FFS, do we have to start with the gender stereotyping crap so early?!

(84 Posts)
TheBookofRuth Tue 28-Jan-14 10:18:49

Warning: this is more of a long, rambling rant than anything else.

DD has just turned two and we had a birthday party for her. A female relative - someone who I regard as a strong independent type and didn't expect this from - started talking afterwards about how lovely it was to see all the little boys getting stuck in and having a go at everything and showing no fear, and how different they were from the little girls.

I wondered if she'd been at the same party as me, because what I saw was just as many girls getting "stuck in" as boys, and the two shyest, most withdrawn guests were both boys. I mentioned them to her, and she waved it off with "oh yes, but on the whole..."

Similar conversation with MIL recently, who was talking about her little great nephew (only just over one) being "SUCH a boy, he just stomps about getting into everything." At the exact moment she's saying this, her two GDs (my DD and SIL's) are "stomping about getting into everything".

I don't restrict the toys DD has on grounds of gender, so she has dolls and cars and everything in between. Her favourites at the moment are trains and duplo and anything she can paint and draw with. At the party I mentioned something about her playing with a truck and another mum raised an eyebrow and said she was surprised I let her play with trucks. Why?! I'm fairly sure it won't make her grow testicles!

Another mother gave her a present of long haired winged unicorns in various shades of pink. Kind of her to give her a present at all of course, but it couldn't be girlier if I dipped it in glitter. I know people claim that all little girls go through a pink and girly stage regardless of what their parents do, but this kind of stuff can't help, surely?

And now I'm feeling annoyed at myself for being disparaging about "girliness", because I get annoyed IRL when people look down on traditionally female pursuits and occupations as somehow lesser. I'm a SAHM and get enough of that myself, with people demanding to know when I'm going to "get back to work" and "get a real job", as if there's no value at all in my simply being a mum to my DD.

But why, why do people do this? We have these amazing little people with their own incredible developing personalities which are all so different, and from birth we try to force into them into these pigeonholes and make them to conform to stereotypes of "girly girls" and "proper boys". It's so sad.

ooerrmissus Tue 28-Jan-14 10:25:33

Agreed. DS1 had a doll when he was little, he got some very odd looks but he didn't care and neither did I. We had a nightmare trying to find a kitchen set that wasn't pink. I was more upset when DS2 aged 6 decided he wasn't going to join the cheerleading club at school because he realised he would be bullied. It's a shame, he would have been brilliant. All my talk of former presidents of the USA being cheerleaders came to nought. Ah well.

It's interesting that every little girl goes through a pink phase..and every little boy goes through a truck/gun phase.

But almost ALWAYS after they have left their parents (assuming the parents keep thing neutral at home) and gone in to nursery.....

Dd and ds have no concept of girls and boys toys. She wears bright colors and batman shirts and is regularly told how strong and funny she is etc.

Put her in a dress... oh how "pretty she is! Proper little girly girl!"

Um she didn't dress herself... she's 2.

elportodelgato Tue 28-Jan-14 11:25:44

We noticed this at Xmas when people asked for present ideas for our 2 DDs.

I would say: they're really into pirates and dinosaurs and they would love some new lego, oh and DD1 has asked for a unicorn toy.

The response: Oh! A unicorn, I'll get her that then!

It's like people actually don't HEAR me saying pirates, dinosaurs, lego etc and the latch onto the first 'girlie' thing they hear instead. We did get some lego but it was that excreble 'Friends' crap angry so I sent it back and swopped it for some normal lego that you can actually build shit with smile

TheBookofRuth Tue 28-Jan-14 11:28:02

DD got a Lego pirate ship from us for her birthday. She is particularly fond of firing the cannon. grin

Daykin Tue 28-Jan-14 11:40:20

I'm sometimes guilty of buying stereotypical toys unless I know the child well enough to know what they want. I worry that if I give dinosaurs to a girl or a doll to a boy then people will think I've thoughtless grabbed something from my crap cupboard on the way out of the door.

I don't think lego friends is crap, dd1 plays for hours with hers, building all kinds of shit. I hate lego city.

I know what you mean about the 'typical boy' thing. A friend of mine is always saying that her dd 'should have been a boy' if she does anything vaguely physical like sit on a fence or kick a stone. It's odd.

TheBookofRuth Tue 28-Jan-14 11:46:10

I try to buy neutral things when I don't know the child - books and crayons and so on.

A few months ago I was walking through the park with DD and saw another mother telling off her toddler daughter for playing with sticks because "you're not a boy!" hmm

TheSmallClanger Tue 28-Jan-14 12:36:47

I actually heard someone a while back talking about a few-weeks-old BABY, about how it was good that her mum was putting her in dresses and headbands, "so she gets to know she's a girl". I wanted to challenge it, but the situation wasn't appropriate, and I was too busy trying not to vomit.

Daykin Tue 28-Jan-14 16:58:58

I try to buy neutral things when I don't know the child - books and crayons and so on.

I'm a bit of a re-gifter blush so in reality a lot of stuff is grabbed thoughtlessly from the crap cupboard.

HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Tue 28-Jan-14 17:18:16

It works both ways too. I'm expecting a boy in the summer and when we told the PiL, the first thing FIL did was to launch into a story (for the hundredth time) about how, when dh was born the hospital were out of blue blankets. So, presumably not wanting a newborn to freeze, they put him in a pink one. FIL likes to bang on at length at how he went and made a fuss because he wasn't "having that. I wasn't going to risk confusing him about his sexuality"! Appalling. Makes me want to paint the nursery pink as a pointless gesture! Obviously wouldn't, but what a stupid thing to say (and be proud of).

HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Tue 28-Jan-14 17:34:59

It works both ways too. I'm expecting a boy in the summer and when we told the PiL, the first thing FIL did was to launch into a story (for the hundredth time) about how, when dh was born the hospital were out of blue blankets. So, presumably not wanting a newborn to freeze, they put him in a pink one. FIL likes to bang on at length at how he went and made a fuss because he wasn't "having that. I wasn't going to risk confusing him about his sexuality"! Appalling. Makes me want to paint the nursery pink as a pointless gesture! Obviously wouldn't, but what a stupid thing to say (and be proud of).

Pinkandwhite Tue 28-Jan-14 17:41:50

This starts so early. My SIL had twins - one boy and one girl. From birth my MIL was claiming they had various gender related personality traits. I could see absolutely no evidence of that myself. The stereotyping has only gotten worse as they've gotten older.

ChunkyPickle Tue 28-Jan-14 18:15:14

My mother, who's read plenty of studies about how gender makes no difference, who's in a male dominated industry, with a selection of children with a full spread of skills, and a set of grandchildren who couldn't be more different from each other still says of DS that he's a 'typical boy'

Despite the fact that it was DS and my niece running around pretending to be dinosaurs at Christmas, despite the fact that it's my niece and nephew who like cooking, and despite the fact that given choices DS is as likely to pick pink and glittery as either of his cousins - ie. what they like is completely dependent on the kid, and not predictable at all by what is in their trousers.

She has two generations of evidence in front of her eyes, she's not exactly stuck to her gender-role herself, and still she says these things.

They're just so ingrained.

ProfessorSkullyMental Tue 28-Jan-14 18:49:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheBookofRuth Tue 28-Jan-14 19:00:14

Ha Professor - the other night DD wouldn't get ready for bed until I put pyjamas on her toy dinosaur as well. Ever tried to put pyjamas on a T-Rex?!

She also likes pushing her monster truck around in her toy pushchair and shares her breakfast with it as well as with her favourite doll. I love this about her. I just worry she will lose these adorable quirks as she comes into contact with more and more people who encourage her to be a "proper girl".

TheBookofRuth Tue 28-Jan-14 19:03:44

Oh Chunky, that sounds familiar - my MIL is very much a self-made woman, one of the first to work in a very much male dominated field, and her son, my DH, is the sensitive, articulate, artistic type who is rubbish at all the "typical" male things like driving, sport and DIY - yet she still bangs on about "typical boys" and all that guff!

TheBookofRuth don't worry - it sounds like we are quite similar in our views on toys and stuff, I don't think it is inevitable at all. My DD is now 4, and has been a nursery school for over a year, she still hasn't succumbed to a 'pink phase'. She doesn't mind pink, but her favourite colour is yellow still. When it was superhero day and they could all dress up, she spent ages deciding between her spiderman costume and her superman costume - nearly every other girl there was a princess that day...

I also find it incredibly frustrating when friends and family say there are clear differences, they don't treat them any differently but he is such a boy type thing. Then at parties they have girl party bags and boy party bags and pink princess plates for the girls and cars ones for the boys. I think an enormous number of people stereotype subconsciously and think they don't. I tend to pull DD more away from pink and princess stuff as I feel society pulls her towards it and so I have to balance that somehow!

Looking at slings online the otherday.

New born slings mind you. Woman was saying that it was nice for her daughter but needed something more masculine now as she was having a son!

I nearly started a thread about it. Especially annoyed that something she was wearing needed to match him.. we always default to male so they don't feel embarrassed... Even the babies!

I have never seen a man wearing a girl baby in a pink sling. Always blackgreygreen "masculine" colors for themselves....

JustALittleGreen Tue 28-Jan-14 19:29:08

My 2.5 yo shows a marked preferance for pink. She started in childcare around the same time she started this though and there was an older girl who's into hello kitty and pink everything, so maybe this was why? Although the older girl was the childminder's daughter and had never been in childcare and been brought up very gender neutrally. My friends 4yo boy loves pink and purple. It's impossible to tell if its completely socialised or if all kids like pink because its a bright happy colour, but lots of the boys are discouraged, because I went gender neutral from birth and dd loves pink. I try to treat pink like any other colour though I do avoid it where possible. I shop from the "boys section as well as the "girls section" and have a range of toys for dd. I feel I'm doing the best I can :-/

I was utterly gobsmacked when adopting our dog, though, a male, and said I'd like a purple lead as its my favourite colour. The woman looked incredulous and said "PURPLE?! For a boy?!"

TheBookofRuth Tue 28-Jan-14 19:31:09

You're right Please - you've just reminded me that pre-DD, when I was shopping for a changing bag and picked out a plain grey canvas one (having baulked at the 3 figure price tag on the ones the assistant tried to steer me towards), the sales clerk told me they called that one their "dad bag". WTF?

PenguinsDontEatKale Tue 28-Jan-14 19:32:31

PleaseJust - That reminds me of a recent thread where a woman complained that she had been told second children were so much cheaper and this one was costing her just as much. Turned out that she'd bought everything in pink and flowery and 'couldn't' use it now that the second one was a boy. Even the bouncer wasn't neutral enough hmm. I really didn't understand why she hadn't thought that one through. I'd have never bought the pink, but if I had I'd have used it for the boy.

On slings, I always see it as effectively clothing for the adult. I chose unisex because I don't want to be pink and girly all the time and I thought neutral was more versatile. Plus unisex is nicer for DH to wear because, no matter how feminist he is, he wouldn't be keen in going out in my dress, so I don't see why I should expect him to wear the sling equivalent. The sex of the baby inside the sling wouldn't cross my mind at all, just the sex of the adults wearing it.

TheFutureSupremeRulersMum Tue 28-Jan-14 19:44:46

Do you think if we went into high street shops and all the adult clothes were segrated into pink and blue that these people would make a fuss at their lack of choice?

Bubblegoose Tue 28-Jan-14 19:55:00

DD is 2.5 and I've noticed the pressure for her to be a girl/comments on how she does not conform to 'girliness' have started ramping up.

"She's a tomboy."

"She's dressed/she looks 'like a boy'."

"She's got dirty hands - just like a boy."

"Doesn't she keep up with the boys well?" [some of whom are younger than her!]

She's a fearless little thing, full of heart and pluck. Because she's HER, not because she's a girl with 'male' characteristics. I really didn't expect to face this so early, it's incredibly depressing.

Bubblegoose Tue 28-Jan-14 20:00:20

To those whose relatives say there is a clear difference between the genders: scientists are now pretty clear that men and women's brains ARE wired differently. HOWEVER. This is due to socialisation and culture, not biology. We're all born equal. But girls are socialised to be more 'emotional' and talky. Boys are socialised to like sport and cars etc.

There was an article in the Guardian about this recently, by the 2013 science writer of the year. Can't link cos I'm on my phone but it was an interesting read.

RubyrooUK Tue 28-Jan-14 20:25:06

I too hate this. My DS1 (age 3.5) can be boisterous or quiet. He likes kicking a ball or doing cooking and crafts. He is happy being the princess or pirate. His prize possession is a toy kitchen where his dinosaur collection lives.

I have two boys actually and people are always telling me that boys are less complex than girls; boys just need regular exercise like dogs; boys are less bitchy than girls; boys make better teens than girls; boys always love their mums more than girls; and so on.....

Well, my DH is actually quite complex, I am the one who needs regular exercise, neither of us are very bitchy, we were both terrible teens, and we both love our mums. We also both have full time jobs, both cook, both clean, do bathtime, get up all night long with small children. The only genuine gender difference our children see every day is that I breastfeed and DH can't. Oh and I really love mascara and DH isn't keen. I'm hoping that our very equal household with help offset some of the stereotyping.

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