Years ago, I took a few Women’s Studies course in college. As part of my minor (otherwise known as my concentration) to receive my Elementary Education Degree, I needed to study courses in the African American Studies, Jewish American Studies and Women’s Studies Departments. I enjoyed all of the courses I took, as well as the people that I met through these classes in order to complete my Multicultural and Gender Studies requirement.
College opened my eyes up to a great many things, especially at a time when I was completely naive to the gender stereotypes that are so pervasive in the media. This stereotyping is evident even through the types of toys that are made and marketed for boys and girls. Through my women’s studies I learned how these stereotypes can affect the way a young girl looks at her body, the way her self esteem develops, and the way she is seen by her peers.
When I gave birth to Gia, I did my little part to fight gender stereotyping by choosing not to always dress her in pink and purple. It was my silent protest to the idea that “Girls wear pink and Boys wear blue.” In fact, I think much of the first two years of her life she wore red, white and blue, more than she wore any other color. (At that time it was all about Ralph Lauren and the Polo Bear, so it was easy to do this.) I think I realized that she started to favor the color pink by the time she was about five. I was “ok” with her liking pink, I just didn’t want to force it on her simply because she was a girl.
Fact: Her nursery was blue and yellow. Her big girl bedroom was sage green.
I now live in a country where we have had two female presidents. I have seen and met working women who have climbed the corporate ladder, and I have seen and met women who run small businesses out of their modest homes. I would like to think that because we have had two female presidents, because many women have been empowered to go to school, own their own businesses, and still have a family, that maybe we have somehow chipped away at some of the stereotypes that exist in a country where traditional roles of men and women are still alive and well.
When this bit came out on Youtube awhile back it was for a start up company that was looking for funding to make 5000 engineering sets of toys for girls. The inventor behind the toys put everything she had into making the prototype because she wanted to make these toys for little girls like herself. She had always wished she had toys like these growing up.
And then recently, my friend Candy, shared this video with the Somoms and it got me to thinking even more. As the mother of two daughters I want them to do lots of things #LikeAGirl…my challenge is, to make them realize that doing it #LikeAGirl is just as good or maybe even better than doing it any other way. Now, balance that with the fact that I’m a mother of two boys, and the challenge that arises is even more difficult in a society where “Boys don’t Cry.”
I want my sons to know that it’s ok for them to be sensitive, and that they do not always have to carry the load and “Be a Man” in order to be seen as worthy. But I think that is a post for another day and another time.
How do you meet the challenge of raising your daughter(s) without perpetuating negative stereotypes? Please comment and share 🙂 I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when I get to learn and find inspiration from you!