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Sexist conditioning starts young doesn't it?

(29 Posts)
AradiasDaemon Thu 31-Dec-15 01:02:33

My DS is 4, started reception in September. Up till then he has never had any negativity from us or from extended family (though had to virtually gag FIL occasionally) about girls or women. If he liked something, (eg toys or when he fell in love with a pink kids handbag) we have never expressed any judgement and he's never seen things as 'just for girls' or 'just for boys'.

Now he's recently started to speak in a derogatory way about anything he perceives as 'for girls'. Such as using a pink cup. Ffs! Or saying that boys are so much better than girls at X. We've been pulling him up on it every time and DH has been making a point of talking about it with him when he does.

There is a definite split socially at school and the girls and boys only seem to play with kids of the same gender but I wasn't expecting to hear this shit come out of his mouth so young!

It has opened DH's eyes to the conditioning that takes place socially. He has discovered feminism with me as I have talked a lot with him as I have had my own eyes opened over the last few years, so I'm glad DS at least has a positive feminist male role model in his life. Still depressed the shit out of me though, I have to admit.

He's only 4 ffs! No wonder we live in a patriarchal society.

ChocChocPorridge Thu 31-Dec-15 08:03:27

It may not stick - DS1 is a year older than yours and started with a bit of that (it helps that his head is in the clouds so he misses a lot of what's going on) - the other day he came up to me in the bath though, and said he had to tell me something. He paused and said that 'some people at school had been saying that some things were just for boys or just for girls like pink and purple. But I don't think that and you don't think that do you mummy'.

It turned out he'd been talking about favourite colours with dp, who'd said his favourite colour was purple, and DS knows that mine has always been blue.

He still chose sparkly shoes for Christmas, and would choose stuff in whatever colour took his fancy at the time. I don't think he'd be a trailblazer in a party dress (although his star wars costume is Captain Phasma because her costume was silver), but he's pretty secure about the idea that anyone can do anything so far, which is all I think you could want in a 5 year old.

triafemm Sun 03-Jan-16 00:24:59

Want to know why? Let me explain so you can sleep at night.

For every parent like you who wants to be rid of such stereotypes, there will be dozens and dozens of parents who bring their children up with these stereotypes and feed them stuff like "you don't want a doll! dolls are for girls! girls are pansies you don't want to be a pansy!" (to a boy) or "you don't want an action figure! they are for boys and boys are stupid!" (to a girl).

You're welcome.

BungoWomble Sun 03-Jan-16 18:21:34

You're lucky. I sent my little girl to nursery at 9 months old, where she was the only little girl not dressed in pink. She'd noticed that before the age of 2 and has been asking for pink ever since. At 5 I'm regularly hearing that boys at her school are nasty, well because they are already the more likely to hit out, or just play rough more and are more inconsiderate of others around them.

SparklyTinselTits Sun 03-Jan-16 18:30:04

I think at this age it's definitely something they can grow out of or will quickly forget about it.
I was the girliest girl ever when I was that age. I think I wore a bright pink tutu for a week solid one time blush I played with barbies, baby dolls, a styling head etc. I wouldn't entertain the idea of playing with power rangers when my male cousins came over. But then one day Out of the blue, I wanted to play football, and asked for a GI Joe action figure for my birthday. My mum and dad never discouraged "boys toys" or encouraged "girls toys", they just let me choose whatever I wanted - and for some reason, I just decided on pink pink pink and played with other girls.
If he still thinks lads who take dance classes are "pansies" when he's a teenager, then I would think it was a problem, but not at 4yo.
(Your DH sounds like a fab dad btw! smile)

nearlyreadytopop Sun 03-Jan-16 18:37:51

DS has been the same since he started Primary 1. It's giving me the rage.

Lelania Mon 04-Jan-16 15:23:34

My nephew started school in September and announced within a week that he didn't like his beloved Frozen anymore as it's for girls. He must have heard that at school.

VictoriaOKeefe Mon 04-Jan-16 22:40:18

You have to take a chance - encourage little boys to be open-minded, but take the risk at the same time that they'll be shunned or be the subject of violence at school. Children are not political playthings, for either right or left.

QueenLaBeefah Mon 04-Jan-16 22:43:35

Both my boys within weeks of starting pre-school announced that "boys don't cry". Such a shame that this bull crap starts so early.

fitzbilly Mon 04-Jan-16 22:48:09

You need to also remember that actually, at the age of 4, it is a very normal phase to need to be very gender specific. This is because for year old are not clear on gender permanence yet, in their minds the differences they see are the only differences, so putting on a dress makes you a girl for example, and four year olds don't want to change gender. They want to identify with the gender they are, and they want people to know which group they belong to. It is very interesting developmentally.

They grow out of it, especially with parenting like yours.

fitzbilly Mon 04-Jan-16 22:49:51

What I was trying to say was it's not just social conditioning. it is a developmental phase as well, although what children chose to indicate their gender is defined by society.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Mon 04-Jan-16 23:10:31

What fitzbilly said.

Op - you sound like wonderful parents, I'm sure your ds is going to turn out great.

PiperChapstick Mon 04-Jan-16 23:12:56

Yep you're right but well done for keeping this in check there's not many parents who do this and it's nice to hear about those who do

Marzipanface Mon 04-Jan-16 23:17:45

This is really interesting. I'm going through similar with my daughter. She loved Minecraft, dinosaurs, bugs and hates Disney princess and fairy stuff. All fine and all her choice but now she is at school she has discovered that all the stuff she likes is 'for boys' so she identifies and plays with the boys. All the girls consider her a 'boy' and I notice the teachers are lumping her in with the boys e.g the nativity, she was a shepherd with the boys and not an angel or a star with all the other girls.' It's driving me a bit insane so I know how you feel!

TeiTetua Tue 05-Jan-16 17:35:17

It's funny how children want to have rules in the world, and they'll cling to them rather than accept freedom. And adults often tend to go along with it!

So a little girl is willing to become a "boy" to avoid the limitations on being a "girl", but she won't take the attitude that everything's available to everyone. I'd be a bit grumpy about those female stars and angels, and male shepherds, too. At least they'll let a girl be a shepherd if she's apt to be stroppy.

There's a thesis waiting to be written on when and why angels went from being male to being female.

Missyaggravation Tue 05-Jan-16 18:01:12

Within a month of starting nursery my previously disinterested daughter asked me to buy her a doll in a resigned tone, a few days later we were in town and I offered to get her one, she said no I don't really want one grin. It's odd as at that point I hadn't really thought a lot about feminism, but thinking back I did buy her a little doll and pushchair when she was a toddler, which she promptly set aside, but I mostly bought things like Lego and bricks just basically toys that looked interesting. She has never been a girly girl, I just wonder if that is her basic personality, or nurture confused

DPotter Tue 05-Jan-16 18:15:08

There is child psychology / development research which shows babes in arms are treated differently depending upon the type of clothes they are wearing. If the baby is wearing pink / frilly stuff, the baby is held close and spoken to softly. If wearing blue / more rugged clothes the baby is more likely to be held out and bounced around and talking is louder. So it starts at birth - we have to be on alert from the start

cheekstime Fri 08-Jan-16 16:47:50

I just cannot tell you how relieved I am to find like minds! Thank you thank you, lovely people.

cheekstime Fri 08-Jan-16 16:47:53

I just cannot tell you have relieved I am to find like minds! Thank you thank you, lovely people

grimbletart Fri 08-Jan-16 17:02:56

As an older person OP I can tell you that the conditioning little ones are subjected to these days is worse than anything I experienced as a child, when you might have expected a much higher level of sexism, or that my own DCs (now in their 40s) experienced. I would like to believe that it cannot continue and common sense will return.

I find it an unfortunate time to be a child these days, but maybe that's my inner Victoria Meldrew exerting itself grin

However, if you just gently and consistently keep pointing out the ridiculousness of the prevailing sexism I'm sure the message will get through.

Most children are intelligent enough to (eventually) recognise stupidity when they see it.

grimbletart Fri 08-Jan-16 17:04:33

'asserting' not 'exerting' - FFS iPhone.

Spanglecrab Fri 08-Jan-16 17:12:06

My mum has a pink and a blue high chair and putting our boy girl twins in "the wrong way" seems to ruffle quite a few feathers round the dinner table.

cheekstime Fri 08-Jan-16 18:19:28

Spanglecrab that's just brilliant smile. Equality in action

cheekstime Fri 08-Jan-16 18:27:42

The increasing sexualisation is hideous and dangerous for both genders as they grow up. Girls arent just here for the requirements of the other sex.

I actually saw baby booties with a stitched high heel on! Beam me up

vioriteca Mon 18-Jan-16 02:48:44

"My mum has a pink and a blue high chair and putting our boy girl twins in "the wrong way" seems to ruffle quite a few feathers round the dinner table."

Whatever you do, don't put the boy in the pink chair, because then he will become gay and like pink and want to play with dolls and like Frozen.

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