I don’t usually write posts like this and usually leave the serious stuff to the better writes but I just wanted to share some of my thoughts and opinions on gender labelling.
Last week LO and his cousin Lils were playing with the Paw Patrol puzzle my friend Coco got LO for Chirstmas.
The next thing I heard come out of Lils’ mouth was:
“purple is for girls”
I stopped my instagram surfing to look up and say in defense, “Purple is not just for girls. Purple is for everyone“.
Yes. I made sure I placed heavy emphasis on everyone. This is because it’s not the first time it’s happened.
There’s been other times when they’re playing together – happy as Larry – before my little nephew decides to tell LO that something he likes is “for girls” which really pisses me off. It’s something that I’m a little hypocritical about because I don’t have a problem with buying Baby Girl pink clothes and LO blue clothes when he was a baby BUT (and that’s a big but) I would not avoid ‘boyish’ colours for her and I certainly didn’t avoid ‘girly’ colours for LO. In fact, LO had a few pink, pastel and purple baby grows and shirts. Maybe not a whole pink outfit but he had touches of pinks etc in his little wardrobe.
Now… it really rattles my cages when a parent will not buy a certain item, whether it be clothes or toys, simply because “it’s for girls” or “it’s for boys”. One day we were in our local Sainsburys and LO wanted to buy one of those children’s magazines. If you’re a parent, you know which one. The one that they never read that comes with the little toy that breaks/gets lost minutes after they touch it. They cost a fortune too, around £4-5 a book. LO is a big fan of My Little Pony. No biggie. It is a bit ‘girly’ but hey, he loves animals. He saw the My Little Pony magazine and told me he wanted to buy it. I said no because I didn’t have money.
Looking sad, he said to me “oh why? Is it because it’s for girls?”
I bent down to his eye level and told him “no sweetie, it’s not because it’s for girls. It’s because mummy doesn’t have enough money to buy your magazine today. We’ll buy it tomorrow.” After we left the shop, all I could think of was who the hell told him that My Little Pony is just for girls because it sure as hell weren’t me. I really don’t like it when LO feels like he can’t play with something because it’s for the opposite gender. For goodness sake it’s just a toy. Yes I know that My Little Pony is aimed at girls but that doesn’t mean my little boy shouldn’t play with it because of that. I dislike this kind of gender-labelling – the restriction of toys or games simply because it’s not aimed for the child’s gender. Daddy P and I had words that night. We agreed that we’ll try to avoid gender-labelling anything from now on.
I know it’s a little of a controversial thing for boys to play with girls’ toys (and vice versa but more so for boys I think). Maybe some people believe that playing with things aimed at the opposite sex will ‘turn’ the child gay or make their child a “girly boy” or a “tomboy” (boyish girl) or something stupid like that. I don’t really know. There’s lots of reasons why one can be against it. Perhaps it’s because playing the ‘wrong’ toys will cause our children to get picked on in school if they carry on doing so.
I do get it though. As a parent I want what’s best for my child. My sister has said to be before why do I let LO play with My Little Pony and similar toys because ‘it’s for girls’ and I userstand why she says it but at the end of the day a toy is a toy. Sometimes it’s easy for us as parents to blur the lines between what we think is best for our children and what is actually good for them. We should be encouraging our children to play with a range of toys and not confine them to our preconceptions of things by gender-labelling. If my son wants to play with a doll I’ll happily let him because I think he just sees it as imaginative/role play. My sister’s asked me before if I’d let LO play with Barbies and I said yes because I don’t see it as a big thing but for her she would never allow Lils to do so because feels that doing things like that will influence his sexuality. What we forget is kids are kids and their mind is pire – they only know what we tell them. Their ideals and perceptions of things in the world are based on the information they’re gathered from people they trust.
I wrote a post a while back about pretend play and briefly mentioned that toys shouldn’t be labelled as ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’ even though I picked the blue and red tea set over the pink one for LO. However in my defense, blue is LO’s favourite colour. If it was pink, I think I might’ve thought about getting him the pink one. I also think it’s down to how we’ve been conditioned in society. If you’re a girl, you’re supposed to like makeup, playing with hair, having tea parties and playing with dolls. If you’re a boy, you’re supposed to like football, play with action man, toy soldiers and cars.
When I was younger I played with whatever toy was available, be it an action man or Barbie, dinosaur or toy jewellery set. I didn’t mind and I am so glad that my dad (dad raised me as a single parent) didn’t brainwash me with that kind of rubbish. But then again, there is a lot more stigma around boys playing with girly toys than the other way around. Either way, we should try to say that “x is for girls” or “x is for boys” less because there really is no need. Toys should be gender-neutral.
Let the kids be kids and play with whatever toy they want. 🙂