These topics really get me heated. I understand that everyone has and is entitled to their own opinions; these ones are mine.
I grew up (when my parents were together) barely having a dad around long enough to sing the A, B, C’s. He was constantly out of the house either working or out with his friends for leisurely things (golf, bowling, bar hopping etc). My mom was the one who was always around. She took care of our physical and emotional needs day in and day out. I always wanted to be exactly like my mom.
My father, was (and still is) a sexist man. He never put much merit into what girls were capable of. He genderized sports. So much so that it was humorous to him that I even had an interest in playing football in high school (I had a pretty good arm). “Girl’s can’t play football” he would say. If I questioned him for a reason as to why, he would say something like, “you aren’t built the same way a man is built to have the muscle capacity for that, plus you would get hurt.” Now, I was always pissed when he would tell me how inadequate I was simply for bearing a vagina. But I also wondered, why was it okay for boys to get hurt, but not girls?
I had a plan for my life in high school. I was determined to be a marine. I wanted to prove to my dad that women were just as capable as men to be strong and brave. Not only that, but it was always something I felt compelled to do; serve my country on the front line. I quickly learned that (at the time), women were seen as inadequate and literally were banned from serving anywhere close to the front line. I remember writing a paper for my research methods class about women on the front lines and being completely shut down by the teacher and 99% of the student body.
To this day, I still do not understand the reasoning behind their arguments. I heard a lot of “women will be raped” or “women aren’t physically built for strength and endurance”. It was a constant argument that I eventually gave up on speaking about. [Side note: my life obviously took a different turn and I did not end up enlisting].
When I got married and we started trying for a baby, I always knew that I did not want that sexist demeanor for my kids. I didn’t want them to feel like they couldn’t do something just because of their gender. Or, feel like they are obligated to be something just because of their gender.
It didn’t take long before it began though. It started with colors. Yup, blue and pink. Now I don’t know whose idea it was to start this whole color genderizing bullcrap, but I did my damndest to keep it away from my kids. Which was fine for the first baby, a boy. We didn’t do a typical all blue nursery, clothes, or baby shower. However, despite my efforts, for our second child (a girl) we got a lot of pink. A gift is a gift, we were thankful no matter what, but it didn’t go unnoticed.
As my son got older he started getting interested in things he saw me doing; cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the baby. So, for Christmas, we got him a kitchen set of his own and a baby doll. I remember buying that doll and the lady at the register behind us was appalled when she heard it was a gift for our son. She said, “my son would be very upset to get a doll for a gift.” She was insinuating that boys don’t, or maybe shouldn’t, play with dolls. However, my son, just might be a parent someday. He might have to take care of a kid someday. Why is it so wrong for a boy to have a doll?
I also remember some family members giving us flack for buying a boy a kitchen set. Uhm, hello, boys need to be able to cook too! This is not 1920 after all!
Why do we genderize life skills!?
Growing up, I don’t ever recall either of my parents having “the talk” with me. You know, the one about the birds and the bees and something about trees? However, the minute they learned that I was sexually active; shit hit the fan. They made me go with them, to my boyfriend’s house, to tell his parents and to make him buy a pregnancy test. Yes, I realize I was 16 and he was 19 [we had been together over a year by this point, even though my parents forbid it]. I still felt it was a bit extreme.
My dad was constantly in fear of me getting pregnant. I would have to bring home time stamped reciepts as proof as to where I was; a bit obnoxious. But then, I saw how my brother was treated so differently. Any news of him with a girl (not even sexually) was good news for my dad.
Even when I was 20 years old and dating my now husband, he [dad] wanted my youngest brother (who was 5 years old at the time) and I to share a bedroom in hopes it would keep me from having sex. Instead, I moved back in with my mom until Chris and I got our own apartment together. Which, PS there pops, rooming an adult with a child like that is technically illegal.
I understand the fear of teen pregnancy. What I don’t understand is the double standard. It is entirely frustrating and I can’t grasp the rationale. Boys/men should be just as responsible for protecting themselves from pregnancies, just as girls/women. I will not allow these heinous ideas to tarnish my kids the way it did me. If my son wants to do ballet or wear pink, then by golly he will. If my daughter wants to play hockey or dig in the mud, then I will let her do it. Who am I to dictate someone’s potential, especially solely based on what genitals and hormones they have?
Furthermore, have you ever been annoyed at how products are created and marketed solely to one specific gender? For example, Pull Ups. Pull Ups have two choices, a blue bag/box with boy characters or a pink bag/box with girl characters. Why can’t we just have a box with the characters all together in one? Why do they put boy children on the blue packages with the boy characters (and it’s the same thing for girls with pink and girl characters)? My daughter who is 2.5 years old wants to wear all her favorite characters, not just the ones that are in the pink box. So, we let her choose at the store which box to buy: sometimes it is blue and sometimes it is pink. It really shouldn’t even be a thing!
Is it so wrong for a boy to think a princess is awesome? Or for a girl to like swords and wrestling?
As I am writing this, more examples come to mind, but at some point I have to realize I am most likely beating a dead horse.
Why does society do this? Who even starts this crap in the first place and why do people follow it?
I want a different world for my kids and generations to come. A better, more accepting, let people be happy sort of world.
Will we ever get there?
I don’t know.
Rant over, for now,