Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Butterflies are for boys too

Are you tired, bored and more than a smidgen irritated by how much gender stereotyping goes on in our children's world?

You know what I mean: pink for girls, blue for boys. Dolls, cuddly toys and tea sets for girls; blocks, dinosaurs and space rockets for boys.

For most of my life, I've gone along with it all. You don't really question or think about it, do you, until you watch your own children make their choices.

Luca loves his trucks. His cars. Dinosaurs. Lego. Trains. Wooden blocks and everything else he's meant to play with.

But he has a lovely nurturing side, too – like most children. He loves tucking his 'friends' into bed, so for his 2nd birthday, we bought him a little wooden cot. He still plays with it today. He also has a little pushchair and a baby doll, after I noticed he was fond of rocking dolls to sleep at playgroups.

They're by no means his favourite (Luca would happily play with Lego alone all day every day), but I'm really glad that he isn't yet aware of what he should and shouldn't be playing with.

I can't say that I'm a big fan of pink – I think girls look beautiful in pale blue dresses. In fact, sometimes I thank my lucky stars my house is free from pink fairy outfits and glittery wands. But I like to think that colours are just colours in our house.

Much like bugs. Luca spends a large portion of his day with creatures in the garden. He's fascinated with butterflies. To him, they're another insect, like beetles, ladybirds and cicadas.

And yet, butterflies 'are for girls', aren't they?

Oh and flowers. I love how Luca talks about the flowers on our walks, and often holds the flower heads in his palm to take a closer look. But very soon he'll work out that flowers are all frou frou and so remain quite firmly in the girly domain.

This was all put very succinctly in an article I read last year in the Guardian.
How should children ignore gender, not be influenced by the assumptions and expectations it brings, when they continually watch it, hear it, see it; are clothed in it, sleep in it, eat off it? Little wonder that children become "gender detectives" eager for their behaviour to fall on the right side of the all important social divide.
 You can read the piece (Let's end the great gender lie) here.
...children are getting the message conveyed to them (however inadvertently) from the way their clothes and bedding, toys and crockery, greeting cards, and, yes, even wrapping paper, comes gender-labelled from birth.
...these gender cues pack a psychological punch.

Anyway, the reason I'm posting about this today is because I've just finished painting Kian's book ends. I picked them up at a garage sale (surprise surprise) a few weeks ago.



What do you think?

I'm really pleased with the colours, but I wish I spent longer painting the actual butterfly.

Point is, Kian has butterflies in his room now. So maybe, when he's older, he'll be able to ignore some of those gender cues out there.

I'll leave you with a picture of a child's room. Bet you can't guess if it's a girl or a boy's room...

Might have to save up to get one of these beautiful teepees. And definitely that wooden tree.

Taken from here


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