Why are Barbies, baby dolls, kitchen play sets, dollhouses, princesses and the color pink generally associated with the female gender, whereas boys are given toy cars, action figures and are typically associated with the color blue?
Fireman, garbage man, policeman. Do you notice a trend in these words? Unfortunately, these titles already start to give us the impression that certain jobs are fit for one type of gender, which should definitely not be the case.
One day last semester in French class, we took a look at this concept when we were going through occupations and noticed that a lot of occupations had acquired the masculine form, “le.” Many jobs that were stereotyped for women, however, seemed to take the feminine form. This made me think about the jobs that are stereotyped in English. I had never thought about it, but then we brainstormed all types of English words that people associate with certain genders.
I have grown up in a world where these factors seem to be unspoken rules. It is these associations that have naturally formed through time. We are so accustomed to this way of raising our children that any other way seems foreign. It does not have to be this way, however.
According to a Friday article in The New York Times, even though women are receiving degrees and are finding success in the professional world, they are still underrepresented in certain fields, especially science.
My roommate is majoring in engineering and she has told me in the past that she is one of the only girls in the majority of her classes. The statistics are there to show that what she experiences is a real issue. As The New York Times states, only 19 percent of 57.3 percent of women who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2014 had received the degree in engineering.
I once read a story on social media about a little boy who wore pink glittered shoes to preschool. When his mother posted a photo of him, his relatives commented in disbelief saying that it was not right to let him wear the shoes in public. I disagree with the little boy’s relatives. I believe that we should be letting our children decide what they want to wear and not set them back in that aspect whatsoever.
If you son wants to wear a Disney princess costume or play with Barbies, let him. If your daughter wants to play with actions figures or dress up as Batman, let her. There should not be an issue if your son or daughter wants to do something that would typically be considered for the opposite sex.
As The New York Times states, culture is displaying an influence on the way we view these gender issues. As an example, there are less toys and clothes that are produced of female action heroes. Also, children’s toy aisles are often separated by gender. The same goes for clothing aisles in stores as well.
This can make it difficult for children if they constantly see toys that are designed for their sex but would rather play with toys that were meant for the opposite sex.
We are giving children the idea from an early age that girls should do one thing and boys should be doing another based on the general concept of dressing differently or playing with certain toys.
I believe that we should not be forcing our children into thinking that there are certain roles for each gender. We should be supporting our generation to come by telling them they can choose the profession and social roles they want without regard to their gender.
Some girls do not want to be princesses when they are older. Some want to be scientists, which is why it can be hard for parents to shop for their children when they are only given the option of separate girls and boys clothing aisles.
Thankfully there are clothing options now that are meant for the interests of both genders rather than just targeting one sex. As The New York Times discussed, the clothing lines that help with this issue include Lands’ End, Hanna Andersson, Let Clothes Be Clothes and Princess Awesome.
In my opinion, the worst thing you could do for your child is not allow them to have their own freedom of style and expression. Whether it is being a firefighter, doctor, astronaut or princess, we should let little kids follow their passion without persuading them that what they like is meant for a different gender.
Let’s raise our boys and girls the same way and provide the same opportunities for both sexes. Let’s show our children that it is up to them to decide how they want to dress, which toys they want to play with and which activities they want to get involved in. Let’s end all of the gender stereotypes that we have become accustomed to.