Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Eyeopener on Gender Stereotypes and My Views

I read a beautiful post on Parentous this evening which took our attention towards Gender Stereotypes that exist in our society. I suggest the readers please go through Reema Sahay's post before reading mine, she actually speaks my mind.

For all those who know me, or have read my blog... I'm known to be a feminist. I have no problem with the other gender what so ever. The problem I've always had is with the image our society has created around a man and a women. Below I'm giving reference of 2 situations which I faced with my daughter, I felt sick to say the least.

Picture This:

I visited a huge toy store to buy some toy cars for my daughter (do I see some raise brows already? I hope not). When I checked with the attendant, I was told "Oh! Toy Cars... those are in the boy section ma'am". I felt weird and realized even toys are gender based. I tried not to raise the point, I felt it was a system they follow, and almost every toy-store stacks its toys like that.  I just hurried towards the 'BOY section' with my little girl. I (fortunately/unfortunately) overheard a mom telling her pre-schooler “Why do you want a kitchen set? It is for girls… Are you a girl?”. I became furious, and left the store immediately. Obviously the toddler had to come home without the toy car.

Picture This (2):

Couple of our relatives reside in a pretty conservative part of Delhi. I went to visit this aunt of mine, and was enjoying some chai and rusks, when I overheard a mom telling another mom, 'Woh toh apne bete ko itna pamper karti hai, har baat mein rona shuru ho jaata hai... poora ka poora ladki ban gaya hai" (she pampers her son so much, he cries at the drop of a hat, he has become a sissy, a typical girl.) I regretted having overheard that conversation.

After reading Reema's post I realize it's very easy to pick these instances up and frown... Gender Stereotype has become a part of our society. We in our daily lives do and say things which make our children feel girls and boys are different and do things differently. When we mostly pick pinks for girls and blues for boys, it is our mindset that tells us that Pink and Blue signify two different genders. (I personally feel men look really cool in pink and girls carry blue fabulously - like any other color). 

We as parents do set examples in front of our kid's as rightly pointed by Reema.

What are your views on this?


12 comments:

  1. Absolutely true! Gender stereotypes anger me more than anything else...

    This toy thing is visible even at birthday parties... if its a girl, they give dolls... and if its a boy its cars and football!

    one incident that really ticked me off and I want to share... my neighbour's kid playfully didnt allow their maid to enter the house, so his father asked him, if you dont let her in who is going to do the house work... and pat came his reply... 'Mama'... because he never saw his father do any work at home...
    sometimes we dont teach our kids...they just learn by observing! and it scares me that our kids are strange gender notions!
    :( we have to start really young...

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    1. Hey Divya! Thanks for dropping by. I swear (though I'm anti huge birthday bashes) even when you visit a party planner besides the kid's age the 1st question they ask is whether the child is a boy/girl. Damn.

      Thanks for sharing the experience, makes me more furious... we definitely have a lot of work ahead of us.

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  2. I agree with you Falak and even though I am not a feminist it is important that we don't tie our kids in stereotypes. My daughter loves pink, play kitchen, frilly dresses but she also enjoys Dino toys, playing pirate and dressing in shorts. We just need to give them all the options in life and let them make their own choices.

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    1. Totally Swapna, We should not force our thoughts on them (intentionally or unintentionally)

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  3. Yes, all said's true. I'm just wondering what (which kind ) toys a 3 + child ( male / girl ) would generally pick if left alone , unsupervised in a toy store ? Hmmm, we as parents are not forcing anything or trying to embed this difference in our babies . This is how things go and are , in any society anywhere in the world. Had it been a girl child with her girl friends playfully not letting maid in , the answer would ve been any different ? Or they would ve not played this kinda game in the first place ?
    No I'm not missing the point here , point is mum was catering to house long before children came into picture and like learning other things they saw and learned - dad works outside and mum inside the home & both are happy in this arrangement according to children.
    Now how can you intent not to be stereotype about it. My friend's daughter always asked her workin mom to get her books and stuff while returning back in evening from her office and her dad to ready her in the morning and fix her breakfast, even have his with her before he leaves for his work.
    This is a system which runs in a family and all members either already are or learning to be part of it. I believe in 2012 where a 5th grade child is downloading " J lo " & " Honey singh" from iTunes & trying to be a champion of " FIFA " ( vid game ) we parents jusy can't force or mould them in any manner. They grow brains faster than we did and pick pink over blue after they have dumped magenta already ;)

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    1. Unfortunately I do not agree with u a bit. I agree 'Generally' a girl picks up a 'girl toy' and a boy picks up a 'toy made for him.' But I with my own eyes have seen parents stop a child pick toys meant for another gender, not once but many a times. This per me is FORCING and nothing else. Just saying that "This is how things go and are , in any society anywhere in the world. " Is finding an easy way out, we're all to be blamed. It all starts at home where parents knowingly or unknowingly force their thoughts on their child.

      It is a system, which has been in place for long, and an arrangement that both parents are happy about. But I do not agree when we show our kids that when it comes to cooking or taking care of the house 'only' a woman can do that, a woman is equally capable of handling finances and an office job, like a man can contribute in household chores. Its very easy to neglect things we see around us and ignore them by saying 'Arre yeh toh chalta hai'. The system if its having a negative effect on the society then it needs to be altered.

      That's what we do, we see aspects that show us its a progressive society, but ignore things that shout out 'we are still living in the bygone era' where somethings like Gender Stereotypes are concerned.

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    2. Don't agree, please. Will change nothing. Could your observations be just your assumptions ? May be there was more to the refusal than just gender stereotype to it? May be toy was not age suitable , may be too expensive for folks to afford, or anything else ?
      Even if it was what you think it was did you wait and saw the whole thing go through ? ( just curious since your hard bent upon this toy instance ) I mean did parents force " Rambo's machine gun " over "Barbie's doll house " for thr child ? Or Tht they left dragging their crying , yelling, sobbing child out of the store ?

      I mean its not Tht big a deal that your making it out to be . Kids watch and learn, true. Also true is we should set good example for them to be good human. And that's it , period ! I agree they watch and program them selves seeing a housewife mom cooking and laundering etc and expect her to do Tht but I'm sure they never feel it's any less of a job or pay less respect to her than their dad making a balance sheet on a desk in office. No they never do.
      As long you care enough to teach them to be understanding and considerate towards other people ( irrespective of gender ) you I feel are on right track.
      It's natural for parents to wish good for their children and hope them to fare good in life which sometimes work and other times don't ( not all kids take up science to become doc or cricket to be Tendulkar ) inspite of all the forcing . It's ( forcing) wrong But that has got nothing to be gender stereotypes or any such thing.

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    3. Okay... do not agree means I have an opinion and so do you, there cannot be a right or wrong to everything. As I'm allowed to have an opinion so are you or anyone else for the matter.

      The toy being expensive or any other reason can be there in one of cases but I fail to understand how it can always be the case. I'm talking of not one or two cases... it couldn't have been affordability or some other random reason every time.

      These are not 'random' cases, I have seen it with my own family and close friends so... why are you becoming so offended about this being the case. Why are you trying to cover up the entire thing and giving it some other picture all together. I'm not judging you despite that, so it would be fair if you do not judge me or anyone saying we are 'hell-bent' on proving it is a case of gender stereotype? I'm not someone who would write an entire post on a random incident and go on arguing about it.

      I never commented or said being a house wife is a lesser important job, you unfortunately are taking it to a different tangent. I'm just saying a woman can be a housewife or a Head of a firm... similarly a man can be a house-husband or a corporate executive... It's not about that. You are just picking up an instance, what about telling your boy "don't cry like a girl" which I have mentioned in the next incident.

      Why are boys risen as they are 'superior' and can't express or show their emotions, it is equally unfortunate for the boys as well. Why is a girl seen as the 'weaker sex' that is the problem. You have given my post a totally different twist... which is unfair.

      I hope you get what I'm trying to convey here.

      Also it would be great if I know your name... I can argue better that ways ;-)

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    4. Yes.
      You have an opinion and all the right to ve one but that's a fix . It's your opinion in your head . You are just pinning it on the whole concept of how society works in the business of going about raising their kids. Well, if not whole definitely most of it.
      Responding to your second instance " crying like a girl " is very similar to people telling to girls " she dresses like a guy " walks like guys " " whistle like guy " ( C'mon now don't tel me you haven't overheard such phrases while dipping your Rusk in hot chai ? ) .
      I mean these are just habits nothing more to it. " Citi" bajane se no body becomes more of a man ? It's just we ve seen guys whistling more often than grls like we ve seen more girls crying more often . It's just a matter of habit. Unless you want to see it in a different light ? Even then no one is saying crying makes you a " WEAKER SEX " , nobody, those lady you overheard were referring Tht child to be over pampered but anything else. You , you listened to what you wanted to or what you wanted to make of it.
      I'm feeling totally weird ( and little childish ) discussing these examples with you but see no other way to show you my point as you seem to base your opinion around them. Even if you have a point ( you surely think you do ) I think you ve given a very non supportive eg to prove it.
      I ain't judging you. Nor am I trying to " twist " your post . Just want to discuss this in a more general way in totality free from few examples whic you or I ve gathered around us. Just that . I ain't saying gender disparity is acceptable or we should practice it while bringing up our children. NO !! But you and me both are living in one society and I'm happy not seeing this disparity around me & it saddens me tht you still finds it around you. I honestly ve seen three different families being crazy happy about birth of a girl child ( wrapped in PINK blanket ) on same day in hospital .
      Have you seen among your same friends and relatives ( who force toys of there choice) to give less nutritious food to one sex or keep one sex of child from right of education thinking it to be any less ?
      We are not living in " bygone era " , some of us just want to .
      See, children these days are too smart & very capable of making their choice as soon they can. Till the age they can't, make no difference what color pajamas you make them wear or what toy you get them because they learn and understand nothing except for light & dark , sound & silence. Gender is their least concern.

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    5. Now you are hitting it below the belt... this is my personal blog for my daughter and I'm not here to give parenting advice. If you want to get personal please leave this space right now and here.

      Commenting on your stuck mindset...I'm anti 'crying like a girl' phrase as much as I'm against 'whistling like a boy' unfornately that is not as common as crying like a girl. You really do not get it right... or you do not want to get it. Why is crying related to girls and 'citee bajana' to guys... why club these traits with either sex? Barson se chala aa raha hai... then you adhere to it, there are many people like me who think differently and want to change it. I listened to the entire conversation, I'm stressing on the 'crying like a girl' because that is proving the point I said, I haven't written a blog post here about pampering right?

      Now if you want to 'show' your opinion please showcase your intelligence on another space. If you are not seeing the kind of disparity around you, maybe because you do not want to see it, or you are living in another planet all together. It is so deeply engraved in our mindset that we do not realize and say or do things which make gender stereotypes apparent. Open your eyes and read my post again... it isn't about people preferring a girl over a boy. ** My God I can't believe I'm having an argument on a topic I haven't touched upon**

      I THINK YOU HAVE READ SOME OTHER POST AND ARE CONFUSING MY POST ON Gender Stereotypes to a post on GENDER DIVERSITY. Wake Up Lady/Dude whoever u are.

      You next comment is simply not getting publish coz u are taking it on a different level. Bye Anonymous.

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  4. Sorry to interrupt your conversation with Ms/Mr Anonymous.... but as far as 'parents/elders telling their boys to hold back their emotions' is concerned, I completely agree with you when you say it's unfortunate for the boys. In general, boys across the globe are brought up in a way where it is hammered in their head that crying is for girls... It is very important to vent out at times!! I remember interviewing a mother who lost her son to ragging in one of medical colleges. She kept on repeating the same thing, 'kaash maine use na bola hota, 'Boys Don't Cry... boys don't crib, be strong' toh shayad wo waqt rehte humein ye sab bata deta, aur aaj hamare saath hota!'

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    1. I totally agree Neiha... I guess we will have to change the perception and do our little bit.

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