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the same party as me, because what I saw was just as many girls getting "stuck in" as boys, and the two shyest, most withdrawn guests were both boys.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

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.

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.

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'.

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).

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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!

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.

and then ONE page of pink barbie

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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)

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!

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'.

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.

NorksAreMessy Fri 31-Jan-14 08:01:26

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


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