Caitlin Jeffery

Exploring the depths of digital literature

She Can, He Can’t?

A week ago I read this great article on Huffington Post about a dad buying his daughter boy underwear because the characters she wanted did not come on girl underwear. It really got me thinking about gender stereotyping. I have taken several gender studies classes and found the topic engrossing. Why do we view feminineĀ and masculine as we do and why are people pigeon holed so much in our society?

From day one with my daughter I have wanted to make sure she never chose or avoided something simply because of it being a “boy” or “girl” thing. What makes it hard is I have society fighting me at every moment. Some things are subtle and others practically punch me in the face. Do you know how hard it is to find a plain white t-shirt for my daughter that doesn’t have poofy sleeves or things with dark solid colors? Those are considered “boy” items and thus are not in her department. Women are still not treated equally today, but I want to teach my daughter she is equal and is not limited to the girl aisle.

After reading the Huffington Post article, I asked my daughter if she wanted Star Wars, Avengers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, etc. underwear, even if they were in the boy aisle, and she said yes at the top of her lungs. I was so proud that she did not avoid those items because they had been deemed “boy” franchises. Today we went shopping and she looked at all the “girl” and “boy” underwear and decided on the “boy” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ones.

What I didn’t realize, until today, is how much harder it will be for my son. On the same shopping trip as the underwear we were looking for 1 year birthday presents for two boys. My daughter thought a teapot would be great and it made me sad inside because I wasn’t sure my friends would like their son having a tea set because it is traditionally a “girl” toy. I settled on Legos, which I was shocked were in the “boy” aisle because I have always envisioned them as gender neutral toys. Turns out I made the right decision.

One of the boys came over today and I gave him the gift. The parents loved it. We started chatting and catching up then I mentioned my underwear story and how proud I was that she was willing to wear “boy” underwear. They made a comment about how it is not a big deal at this age and is fine because she is a girl, but a boy couldn’t wear “girl” underwear. It struck me then that while my daughter is allowed to cross the gender divide, society would be against my son doing the same. Girls can like trucks, comic books, and action movies, but boys can not like pink, princesses, or dress up without something being wrong. She can wear her TMNT undies with no worry, but he would be judged if he wanted Tangled panties. This made me so sad.

I say screw society. If my son wants to play dress up or basketball, wear a crown or cape, or paint his nails or a canvas, I will encourage and support him. My husband and I will never tell our kids they can’t have or do something because of their sex. Society can change, but only if you be that change.

 

Update: NYTimes has a great article on the same topic. You can read it here.

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