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at the same party as me, because what I saw was just as many girls getting "stuck in" as boys, and the two shyest, most withdrawn guests were both boys.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.

EEatingSoupForLunch Tue 28-Jan-14 20:28:47

I'm afraid I filter presents, at Christmas I got rid of a vile book about how princesses love high heels and shopping!! For DD2, who at Christmas was 10 months old!

DD1 is 4 soon and would love a Lego pirate ship, googling it now. She loves the Peter Pan book at the moment, though I have to amend some of the more sexist passage when I read it to her sad

(I realised how often I do this recently when my friend was reading Snow White to DD, and she told her off for missing out the bit where Snow White goes to university and becomes a mechanic grin

TheBookofRuth Tue 28-Jan-14 20:45:24

I had a book of fairy tales when I was little called "The Practical Princess and Other Liberating Tales", which was wonderful. Full of heroines who went on adventures and rescued themselves from scrapes rather than waiting for a prince - in fact sometimes they rescued the prince as well while they were at it. Must see if I can track down for DD when she's a bit older.

I mentioned to my mum earlier that I was going to disappear the vile little unicorns when DD lost interest in them and got told "aww, let her keep them, she likes them!" This from the same woman who wouldn't let me have a Barbie because they present an unrealistic and misogynistic image of the female form! She's gone soft on me!

wol1968 Tue 28-Jan-14 23:04:45

Boys are less bitchy than girls? Naaah....If women do backchat and smart remarks and social manipulation it's called bitching. If men do all these it's called politics. Watch BBC Parliament and you'll see what I mean.

RubyrooUK Tue 28-Jan-14 23:32:22

I know, Wol, it's just one of the common things people say. "Oh boys are a lot less bitchy than girls..." Load of codswallop.

JustALittleGreen Wed 29-Jan-14 12:16:34

I filter presents too. Disney princesses, Barbies and all of that ilk will not cross my threshold if I can bloody help it! Luckily my friends and family know how I feel but ex partner and his family would have her exclusively in pink, glittery frilly monstrosities and clutching a bratz doll if they had their way.

If women do backchat and smart remarks and social manipulation it's called bitching. If men do all these it's called politics. Watch BBC Parliament and you'll see what I mean.

I think it's that women aren't allowed to be outright aggressive and men are encouraged to be. Women have to be "Manipulative" and keep their aggression hidden because it's unladylike.

Really they're all on the same wanker spectrum though

Bunbaker Wed 29-Jan-14 12:37:03

"But why, why do people do this?"

I have several friends who have boys and girls and who have brought them up the same. All of them, without exception, say that their sons and daughters behave differently - boys more into things, more rough and tumble, girls more bitchy and cliquey etc.

Cocoaone Wed 29-Jan-14 13:24:37

I realised how often I do this recently when my friend was reading Snow White to DD, and she told her off for missing out the bit where Snow White goes to university and becomes a mechanic

I LOVE this! I wish I was quick witted enough to do this when I read to DD.

NotCitrus Wed 29-Jan-14 14:19:21

This gets on my wick so much - people just being blind to half of what's in front of them (the half where some kids do stuff associated with the other sex, while gleefully telling you all about the sex-stereotyped things they do).

Ds is a fairly sedate child, even when he was a toddler - liked sitting down and playing with pieces of things, watching ducks, would run and hide when other toddlers got noisy or rough. Basically he looks and acts exactly like me - you can't tell the difference between his and my baby photos except one has more 1970s furniture.

Dd is a total live wire, never still, into everything, climbs everything, wants to tip everything over, loves things with wheels and that make noise, happy to push to the front and shove others out of the way (she's not 2 yet so her behaviour is pretty normal!)

Anyone watching her will go "aw, she's playng with her doll" (that she's ripped the arms and legs off) but never go aw when she's playing with her digger or trucks, which she does so much more of the time.

And don't get me started on the mothers who spent a session going "oh, look at Boy hugging her, it's so sweet, oh she doesn't like it, never mind dd, it's so nice that he's hugging her" - encouraging non-consensual touch and expecting the girl to put up with it, much??

At least the blindness to non-stereotyped behaviour meant they said nothing at all when the second time the larger boy toddler grabbed her, dd turned round, punched the boy in the face and decked him.

I have several friends who have boys and girls and who have brought them up the same in the gender free commune they live in... hmm

I've brought DD up with whatever she feels like at the time. 90% of which is throwing biting kicking pushing running and climbing. Doesn't stop my FIL, preschool, the boy in Walmart that told her she couldn't play with cars, the neighbours, her friends' parents, the TV and random strangers. No child lives in a vacuum.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 30-Jan-14 06:22:20

Bubble, that was one study and I don't think it was hugely conclusive (the language used was a bit suspect)

TheMildManneredMilitant Thu 30-Jan-14 06:51:47

I have a 3yo dd and 5yo ds and in someways it's my ds I feel sorrier for. He loves princess stories, is currently obsessed with dancing around to songs from Disney's Frozen, and would love to go to ballet classes. He doesn't fight, is very well behaved and emotionally intelligent. I'm hoping that be doesn't feel he needs to change to fit in with peers but I think it's only a matter of time before he learns that these things aren't 'typical' for little boys.
Dd on the other hand gets to play princesses and dolls but also play Star Wars and Spider-Man. I think it's more socially acceptable for her to do this than the other way round.
They both get bedtime stories about a kick ass fairy who wears big clumpy boots and can fly faster than any of the other fairies - great for chasing down dragons and giving them a kick up the bum grin

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 30-Jan-14 07:16:45

Even giving "neutral" pressies is a statement - DS2 has a last minute girl's party this weekend - his birthday is next week so I'm redirecting one of his presents but I'll redirect the colouring pencils not the Spider-man stickers...

TheBookofRuth Thu 30-Jan-14 08:26:16

I know what you mean MildMannered - girls are tolerated as "tomboys" when they behave in a non-gender sterotypical manner and it's assumed they'll grow out of it. Boys though are thoughts of as "sissies" and "wimps" and told to "toughen up".

I want my children to be respected as individuals, not forced to conform to a stereotyped gender role.

Spiritedwolf Thu 30-Jan-14 12:59:32

I started thinking about this a lot during pregnancy when I didn't know my baby's sex. He's 18 months now. I am still dressing him in fairly colourful/neutral clothes that I will happily dress his future siblings of either sex in, likewise with toys (for practical as well as political reasons!).

I've tried to make sure that he has some pink in items which are generally colourful - like balls for a ball pit and will try to do the same when he gets duplo - get a mix of both colour selections to give him more colours to play with. But I don't tend to buy him the 'pink' versions of things... I wouldn't have done for a girl either, but it does make me feel a bit like my version of 'neutral' is a bit skewed towards boyishness, perhaps because I'm not a particularly girly girl myself. His doll for instance is a gender neutral IKEA doll, rather than one typically marked at girls.

I do buy him things from the 'girls' section of the clothing department, but not the most 'girly' things. Just things where girls have got the brighter colours of yellow, red, pink, light blue - vests, t-shirts, socks etc, when the boys have been relegated to navy, maroon, army green and grey. Or animals, because he likes cats as well as dogs. Its hard though, because girls clothing is often frilly and fussy, and I don't really like that.

The thing is, when I put him in a pink or purple vest, I feel a bit worried people will think I'm "making a statement" in a way I don't feel if I put him in a blue/white/grey/etc. But of course, dressing your child in overtly gendered clothing of the matching sex is also "making a statement" but because its normalised in the shops etc it doesn't seem like that.

I guess he'd be seen by others as a 'typical boy' because he likes to run around, make a lot of noise and play with cars and trains. But he also likes to 'read' books, draw and will give his teddy and doll a cuddle at bed time. I'd like to thin we'd encourage a daughter to do the same.

I don't think he knows he's a boy yet, or that there is anything different about girls. I mean, he knows he can get milk from me and not from daddy, but he isn't talking much yet and girls and boys aren't really differentiated in the baby/toddler things we've been going to so far. I guess that could change as he develops language and mixes with more children who have absorbed these ideas from older siblings/parents/nursery.

The problem I suppose is language, that they need to learn some basic gender differences so they can use him/her etc but are too young to understand that these things are generalisations not hard and fast rules (i.e. that its allowed for boys to have long hair and girls to have short hair for instance). We're so used to the gender divide in society that we don't notice how often we use it. Schools asking the boys to line up in one place and the girls in another etc. I can see its a handy way to have half the class do one thing and half another, but can you imagine if children were asked to line up by race, eye colour, parent's religion, etc... it is a bit weird to ask them to line up depending on their genitalia which is completely irrelevant to anything they are likely to be doing in a classroom or playground. By using gender all the time we are telling children its important.

I found the Gender Delusion book very illuminating. Its hard to know what to do about it though. Hopefully being aware and challenging it will help.

Spiritedwolf Thu 30-Jan-14 13:56:16

I totally agree about the colours of baby carriers and slings btw. We have a rainbow one which I used more in the summer, and a starry/dark one which I've use more in winter, partly because its warmer. I didn't really consider wolfcub's gender when making my choices. I did want something DH would be comfortable wearing, but he isn't terribly fussy so getting something we were both happy with wasn't difficult.

PenguinsDontEatKale Thu 30-Jan-14 14:06:15

spirited - That relates to one of my favourite quotations of all time. It's from the TV adaption of The Cement Garden (slightly more pithy than the original in the book IMHO):

" Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it's OK to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading."

It is something that I do struggle with. I dressed both my daughters in very 'boy' outfits if I happened to like them. But would I dress a boy in some of their frillier dresses? Of course not, because there is still something degrading about 'looking like a girl' in a way not true of the reverse. Also seen in the fact that there is no male equivalent of tomboy, except maybe sissy (and don't get me started on the existence of 'tomboy' in the first place).

DD1's class has a gender imbalance, which thankfully limits the boy/girl as a way to split the class in half! She has a friend who is obsessed with gender difference and regularly comes home (she's in reception) with "X says Y is for boys" or whatever. Then we have a little chat and deconstruct it. She already rolls her eyes at me a bit, but I do think she understands and sometimes she comes in on her own with comments about how X has got in a muddle and that isn't true.

ds has 2 lovely pink polo tops, like an adult man would wear.. So I don't have to feel like I am making a "point" but I also don't want him to get the idea that anything other people see as "girly" should be seen as something to be avoided.

It makes me angry pink is not included in the "normal sets" because boys won't want it.. I am sure.

Dc have mega bloks which come with yellow, light yellow. Blue light blue.. Red... oh and no light red (pink). SO I will have to buy a "girls"set with pink and purple so they can have all the colors mixed in. angry

I just miss bright colors, red, orange purple green pink.. Why does pink have to be glitterty and vom inducing, tell me retailers tell me!

WHy can't the childrens clothing just be childrens not boys/girls

KerryKatonasKhakis Thu 30-Jan-14 15:12:04

I only know that from the Madonna song Penguins grin It is spot on.

I have dressed DS in pink vests but they were then covered up by a tshirt etc. so it was my pathetic way of making a statement without anyone seeing hmm

It's so frustrating when people claim they brought their sons and daughters up the same but they are different.

For starters every child is different and secondly like a pp said, even if you brought them up equally, the wider world did not.

My mum and I battle about this constantly coz she reads the Mail and believe in hardwiring She says me and my brother were always treated the same in regards to our gender. This is bullshit and she either has a very selective memory or simply does not recognise the subtle stereotyping.

I do whole heartedly believe things are worse in terms of gender segregation than they were in my childhood.

I just don't know why it is so important a child's gender be obvious. Why do some people get so upset when their child is mistaken for or compared to the opposite sex? Why?

Finally, if enough girls 'act boyish' enough to generate the need for the label 'tomboy', then surely that is not girls acting like boys, that is just girls doing things. A boy cuddling a dolly is not 'a boy acting like a girl cuddling a dolly', a man crying is not a 'man being like a woman and crying' etc.

Not sure if I'm being clear, I just mean that people act like people (usually wink) and being suprised/confused/disgusted when children stray from their very narrow gender-stereotypes is just ridiculous when almost everyone will making them meaningless. Yet people cling on to them, very, very passionately confused Why?

BarbarianMum Thu 30-Jan-14 17:07:44

Can I join you in your rant. I hate, hate, hate it too.

A man once stopped me in the park to ask if 2 year old Ds1 'knew he was a boy' because he was pushing a toy pushchair. I silently indicated dh, then pushing ds2 along in similar fashion and he slunk off.

Ds2 is 6 and still likes pink. This is akin to a hate crime in South Yorkshire apparently. The flack that poor kid has to take - and it's largely from other mums, the kids are more tolerant. sad

Having boys was eye-opening though - based on my own experiences I'd assumed it was chiefly girls on the receiving end of all this crap.

KerryKatonasKhakis Thu 30-Jan-14 20:25:18

I find the comments where people are being nice and well-meaning the worse. It's easier to ignore/answerback someone being blatantly rude (ew, he looks like a girl etc.) than someone saying 'boys, eh!?' when DS is playing up or the young staff at nursery calling DS a 'typical boy' with a nudge and a smile.

You are forced to either put up and shut up and play the game or risk being cast as a statement-making trouble maker and risk alienating your children.

Actually I've answered my own question as 'why' most people go along with gender stereotyping grin

Bunbaker Thu 30-Jan-14 21:05:14

"Why do some people get so upset when their child is mistaken for or compared to the opposite sex? Why?"

I suppose in the same way that I wouldn't want anyone to think that I was a man. I used to be a little put out when people thought DD was a boy, and I remember talking to a woman about her little girl while waiting at the hospital outpatients. She told me in a huffy voice that "she" was a boy. I admit to feeling a little embarrassed.

I don't think there is anything wrong in being able to distinguish between the two sexes in terms of what sex a person is, as long as we get rid of the ridiculous stereotyping that continues.

DontNickMyMilk Thu 30-Jan-14 21:34:03

I hate this gender sterotyping, especially with toys. Why do Early Learning and the like feel the need to produce one item, e.g. a kitchen in perfectly adequate primary colours, then "have" to do a girly pink one? I think MIL thought I was mad, but when DD was little, I actively encouraged Bob the Builder, we always brought the "other" coloured item from ELC, not pink. Play balls were primary colours, not pink etc. etc.

In the past week, she's played with Lego (standard as well as Friends Lego), cars and Geomag as well as Hama beads and dolls. She's 6. Her favourite programme is Swashbuckle. As much as I hate the Barbies, at least she is choosing to play with a variety of toys, so our efforts are not entirely wasted. So far...

MIL insists one buying her those awful pink and girly magazines with fluffy dogs and shit on it. It makes me want to hurl. They are just full of "fluff and nonsense".

I have tried my best to resist the princess stuff (sorry, Disney) - I find it all a) too pink and b) prententious.

I'm with you on the rant, and with Barbarian - why do people have a problem with boys having pushchairs and dolls? Let's face it, at 2 years old, most of their experiences revolve around babies and pushchairs, either being cared for themselves, or seeing siblings/friends etc. so why wouldn't they copy? Its hardly surprising - most baby animals copy their parents; its how they survive!

Auntierosemary Thu 30-Jan-14 21:49:03

I agree with most of what people are saying on this thread, but isn't it interesting that all this gender stereotyping doesn't tend to hold girls back in terms of their intellectual development and academic achievement?
And in fact if anything, it seems to be the boys who are held back? Girls consistently out perform boys throughout school years. When I was eleven I had to do the eleven plus test. In those days (mid 1980s) girls had to score higher to get the same grade as boys because the assumption was that boys' learning accelerated in secondary school. It was subsequently established that in fact boys didn't ever catch up at secondary school and the gender based scoring system was scrapped.
It seems to be only after school that boys become more successful, at university and in the workplace.
Could it therefore be possible that nurturing "feminine" traits, such as sitting still, actually does girls a favour in the earlier years?
It'll still be a cold day in hell before I'll buy pink Lego for my daughters...

ErrolTheDragon Thu 30-Jan-14 22:08:20

'I hate this gender sterotyping, especially with toys'

Just checking all of you who feel likewise know about Let Toys be Toys - a campaign which grew out of an MN thread a bit over a year ago and is having some effect on retailers.

TamerB Thu 30-Jan-14 22:22:20

It is hardly surprising when people on feminist threads do it! One poster is called commander6 she was accused of being a man! Purely by name. Commanders can be, and are women too! I don't think there is much hope when people make such sweeping assumptions from a name.
Terrible stereotyping to think 'commander=man'

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 30-Jan-14 22:58:31

I don't think it was just the user name, Taner.

KerryKatonasKhakis Fri 31-Jan-14 00:38:19

Bunbaker I understand and agree that people do get upset/offended/angry or sometimes amused when they or their children are mistaken for the opposite sex but it still seems ridiculous.

Like you, my instant reaction would be to be put out if someone mistook me for a man... but why? I suppose it shows that you've failed at femininity...but why should that matter? Years of conditioning I 'spose, but that's another thread grin

Everywhere wants to know your sex/gender and everything I fill out for DS (even library card) has a M/F box. Unless it's medical, no one needs to know (you could say everyone needs to know for when it comes to relationships/dating etc. but again, why, if you fancy them, you fancy them; if you classed yourself as a straight woman and fancied someone you thought was a man but turned out to be woman, would you then not fancy them?).

Splitting people into one of two groups from birth and bombarding them with rules of appearance and behaviour can't really promote any kind of equality, can it?

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Fri 31-Jan-14 01:58:24

Yes it does start early

Says she who took 4m/o dd to the nursery while I had a meeting with hv, to be looked at strangely when I handed over a blue bottle - the nursery worker sort of held it between finger and thumb at arms length as if it were diseased and said 'blue?'

Err yes dearie, no gender stereotyping here smile
Fortunately her manager made noises of agreement so all was well.

But yes, it appears we still have a long way to go.

TamerB Fri 31-Jan-14 07:43:46

I can only think that it was just the name,TheDoctrineofSnatch. She had name changed and she found that she was treated quite differently when perceived as a man. When she chose the name it had never occurred to her that it would be seen as male. We do have a long way to go! What hope for bottles in a nursery if people on here see 'commander' and think man?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 31-Jan-14 07:48:02

I don't know her previous posting name. Tamer, but LordCopper and BertieBotts, for example, are more like male names amongst other FWR posters than "Commander". I think it was to do with post content also.

I think it's a bit generational. Can't say my mates/peers are very into splitting girls out etc (we are all around 37) but older women, mil/DM etc do. Younger friends also don't seem to split it out.

Thus, will die out soon enough, so long as toy retailers catch up a bit obvs.....

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 31-Jan-14 07:56:38

Tamer, a quick flick through has found one poster on one relationship thread who thought commander was a man, apparently based on her defence of the man in the situation.

It wasn't an FWR thread, unless I missed it.

ShoeSmacking Fri 31-Jan-14 07:57:05

I loathe gender stereotyping but even so the one very clear difference I do see and which infuriates me is that all (and I mean ALL) my friends with small boy children find they have to spend less time at home. My friends with girls, when weather is bad for example, simply stay home. Ds and his little boy friends would destroy the house.

Why is that? It drives me batty that ds who has pink toys, plays in "girlie" ways, has little girl friends who kick balls and do do-called boy things with him all the time and yet, on this one thing, I cannot escape the reality of what I see around me.

Do you all know about this brilliant campaign ? I seem to remember it was started by some Mumsnetters


TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 31-Jan-14 08:20:11

Hmm, but that's still a small sample, Shoe. And it's impossible to separate entirely your expectations that it will be a disaster from it being a disaster.

TamerB Fri 31-Jan-14 08:26:02

There was only one who came out and said it, but she found she was treated like a man and she found her reception quite different from her other name when she was posting the same views.
An interesting experiment- I am half inclined to try it- same views with a 'name that is stereotyped as being male'.

TheBookofRuth Fri 31-Jan-14 08:26:58

Can't say I agree Minnie - two of the women I mentioned in OP are my age (mid 30s), and it's women my age who won't recycle clothes worn by big bro/sis for a different gender sibling, but insist on buying new clothes in the "right" colours.

And Shoes, I have a girl and we HAVE to get out of the house at least once a day no matter what the weather is like or she goes stir crazy. It's a bit like having a dog - DD has to be "walked" too!

I wouldn't want to be confused as a man because as an adult woman who has gone through puberty...I shouldn't look like one naturally. We are "supposed" to have breasts, hips, thighs, slim waists etc (although I really haven't got any of the above, but I have got a hormonal disorder)... And with advertising which fetishises these "ideals" you are actually meant to have a teeny tiny waist, mahoosive breasts, arse and thighs like Beyonce etc. Men have more facial hair, thicker chests the marks of puberty.

Little ones do all look the same to me. DD is frequently assumed to be a boy way more than people think she is a girl. I rarely correct unless I think I might run in to the person again and it will become awkward for them when they realise. There really aren't many sex markers before puberty are there, besides the obvious ones we cover in a nappy? So silly to be offended. It makes me laugh when I see bald baby girls sporting earrings, headbands with flowers big as their head.. You might at well get a sign that says "girl, girl here!".

DS is 1/3 to 1/2 time thought to be a girl despite being built like BamBam because he has "pretty" eyes and long lashes hmm On the occasion I have to correct, or they realise by his name which is masculine, they usually apologize profusely... confused I always say, "why, there isn't anything wrong with being a girl is there?"

*Males don't have eye lashes obviously (which we all learn from cartoons I think...and this is further confused by adult women wearing mascara)

TamerB Fri 31-Jan-14 08:32:58

Maybe their child doesn't like it. My mother tried to get me to wear hand me down shorts from my brother. I refused.

DD can tear the house in two if I don't take her out... in minutes sad

Maybe a child tamer, but I think some people (like me) were talking about babies/toddlers and their clothes and paraphernalia. Fair enough if a child chooses to dress differently form an older sibling.

TamerB Fri 31-Jan-14 08:37:47

It is a very short time though- mine had opinions by 2 years old.
I agree it is strange with babies but then people are strange full stop- a lot won't dress them in second hand which is madness IMO.

LittleBearPad Fri 31-Jan-14 08:46:43

I don't think it's generational. My mum thinks I'm mad when I rant about all the pink toys. Take her to an ELC or other shop and she realises what I meant. When I was young it just didn't happen like it does now. Clothes were all sorts of colours as were toys.

I think the worst are many twenty/thirty something's. Bombarded by pink pink pink they feel compelled to buy it. A Facebook friends recent baby is swamped in pink.

Not taking advantage of second hand clothes when babies literally only wear them a handful of time (if that!) is madness. I bought some special things new for PFB I admit, but most of her wardrobe was second hand (and still lovely!) ds got all her old hand me downs though and one or 2 new bits..and this pregnancy I haven't bought anything new blush actually feel a bit guilty. Might need to go out and by a new outfit..just so.

I don't think it's generational. My mum thinks I'm mad when I rant about all the pink toys. Take her to an ELC or other shop and she realises what I meant. When I was young it just didn't happen like it does now. Clothes were all sorts of colours as were toys.

Definitely I was moaning to my grandmother (69) and I was telling her how everything is pink glitter and not like that when I was a kid, and she said it was just because they didn't buy those things for us...but then I showed her some old catalogs etc for comparison. It really has changed.

I think older generations probably did tend to buy certain traditional toys for one gender.. So, prams for girls for example...but the pram..^looked like a pram^ black or blue. Now it's a plastic tat pink glitter monstrosity.

Most toys used to be bright yellow,blue, red.

TheBookofRuth Fri 31-Jan-14 09:03:22

Yes, I was talking about newborns - someone I know mentioned wanted to find out what she was having so she knew whether she could reuse her DS's clothes or "had" to buy some pink.

Regarding the idea that little boys need more energetic play, I wonder if that's because from an early age this type of behaviour is encouraged in boys but not girls? There was a fairly recent study which showed that we behave differently with babies we've been told are male rather than female, even if we think we don't. We hold boy babies facing outwards towards the world and girls inwards to face us. We handle girl babies more gently and engage in more rough play with boys. If almost all of us are doing things like that from birth, it's bound to have had an effect by early childhood.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 31-Jan-14 09:35:12

Delusions of Gender talked about how we treat boys and girls even before they are born. grin What people expect to do with their children and what people expect their children to do and be if they were boys or girls. And when asked to describe the kicking of unborn babies mothers who know that the babies are male describe the kicks as "vigorous", "strong" etc more so than mothers who don't know the sex of the babies or if the babies are female. Can't remember what studies there are, but they are in the book!

devilinside Fri 31-Jan-14 09:55:03

I have one of each, treated them no differently as babies (firstly I am a feminist and secondly I have AS so don't follow social rules) Here's what happened: DD was more outdoorsy, much more fearless than her brother, always first up a tree etc. Now, she is the most sporty girl in her class.

DS was much more cautious, but started to do 'boy stuff' ie pick up sticks and try to hit other children, the minute he began nursery. this behaviour seems to be encouraged in boys. I also got told by a nursery school head teacher that the outdoor play area in her school was great for boys! could never quite work out why there was always an equal mix of boys and girls on the equipment, if this were the case

If head teachers are spouting this nonsense we are fighting a losing battle

OliveOil71 Fri 31-Jan-14 17:19:44

The former Wacky Warehouse at Drusillas is to be redeveloped as a Hello Kitty house. Within this the facepainting, hairbraiding and tattoos are to be located within a 'Beauty Parlour' I don't know about you but I find this completely unnecessary and anachronistic. The target age is girls 3-8. Why does it have to be a 'beauty' parlour? Why not a Hello Kitty Studio or even Salon for example. Furthermore it separates the girls from the boys and there is to be no more craft. I emailed to the MD, Mr Laurence Smith, and his reply was 'I disagree with you but I can see you feel passionately about this so I am not going to persuade you otherwise'. I found this rather patronising. I posted my concern on their facebook page. Rather than replying and starting a debate, they removed my post. Poor social media etiquette. If you feel that they are not handling this well and that the name sends the wrong message to girls, please do get in touch with them. Drusillas is a zoo with environmental and conservation ethics, I believe it should have social ethics too and not jump on the 'beauty' bandwagon.

My local mn facebook site has just advertised a local "beauty salon" for children.. including "pamper packages" and pink limos. I want to barf

Relax away those hard days of preschool girls.. hmm

I'm sure botox will be approved for 8 year old anytime now.

KerryKatonasKhakis Fri 31-Jan-14 19:46:28

Yes Uptoapoint, such expectations projected onto a foetus. And then some people are desperate to have a specific sex and things like gender selective IVf come in and '25 girls and Wanting a boy' reality shows etc.

If you're desperate for a girl and the she ends up hating pink, loving football etc., are you disappointed? If your H is desperate for a boy to play football with, would you want your money back if he was more into ballet?

Suppose you just force them to conform.

KerryKatonasKhakis Fri 31-Jan-14 19:47:40

That's disgusting Olive. And what a crock o' shit response. Keep complaining.

KatherinaMinola Fri 31-Jan-14 19:52:11

"I have never seen a man wearing a girl baby in a pink sling."

I have only read the first page, but wanted to say that DH happily wore DD in a pink sling several times a week for about 2.5 years smile

(We were given the sling).

OliveOil71 Sun 02-Feb-14 18:54:57

I am shocked a local mumsnet is allowing an ad for the girls' beauty parlour, I thought mumsnetters would be dead against that sort of thing. Scarily I guess lots of people think that sort of thing is 'lovely' or 'sweet'.

ILoveCwtches Sun 02-Feb-14 19:52:06

Our living room has blue carpet & curtains so dd's highchair, playmats & changing mat are all the 'boy' version i.e. blue, so that they match.

I have had a few funny looks from shop assistants when I've bought them (if dd happens 2b wearing a dress).

I assume they think I should be buying the pink version in case I have an attack of amnesia and can't remember what gender my baby is and need to refer to the colour of her belongings! I, however, am well aware that she is a girl. I was there when she was born, ffs.

NotCitrus Sun 02-Feb-14 23:17:57

At a play place I go to, they have managed to track down a blue toy ironing board and iron. Last time I was there there was a queue of small boys all wanting to iron the dressing up outfits (mostly superheroes and a gruffalo). Not sure Spiderman needs ironing!

Near me there's definitely a split between nurseries that encourage gender stereotypes and ones that try to discourage stereotyping and present a wider range of toys and role models to all the kids. Though the staff still worry about comments from parents when two boys are racing pink pushchairs or paint pink and lilac pictures. Probably the same parents who gibber when dd is in a blue dress. She likes denim dresses and they're practical. I like the brown and grey trousers with embroidered flowers too.

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