Gender neutral. Yay or nay?

SATs

Boys should be boys and girls should be girls. Blue for boys and pink for girls. Agree or disagree?

I will lay my cards firmly on the table so you are in doubt what I think.

We need to give all children the same opportunities so they all have self-belief that they can achieve anything they want.

Let me explain further. But first let me say I am generalising based on evidence and studies. Of course there are many exceptions.

From birth the way we treat boys and girls is different.

I watched a fantastic documentary on the BBC which showed experienced child carers play with babies. Except unknown to them boys were dressed in girls’ clothes and visa versa. The adults proceeded to offer noisy construction toys to the ‘boys’ whilst guiding them to the sit and ride equipment. The ‘girls’ were offered soft cuddly animals, spoken to in a calmer voice and read books. What early effect does this treatment have on a child’s development?

Girls have been seen to have poorer spatial awareness than boys. That is the ability to see shapes and be able to manipulate them into spaces. The thinking is that the boys have had so much experience of construction toys, lego and building that their brains have developed the skills needed for spatial intelligence. The more they succeed the better they become. So boys skills develop in this area, they become confident and successful.

Meanwhile girls have less experience using these toys so when they attempt to manipulate a puzzle or build a lego engine they are unsuccessful and give up. Their skills do not develop. Scientists have discovered that contrary to opinion, boys and girls brains are no different in physiological terms. It is a muscle that can be developed and manipulated.

So with practice, all boys and all girls could be  great at construction and develop their spatial awareness skills.

But if the girls are only given ‘girls toys’ to play with and are not exposed to construction and building how on earth can these skills be mastered?

The consequence is then that more boys go onto to become engineers and architects. They have the skills required and the belief that this is an area they could be successful at. Wouldn’t it be great if girls too had this perception? More female engineers. Why not? All it needs is for girls to be given the opportunities by being given a range of toys at an early age and to be treated with a ‘yes you can’ attitude.

Girls are given a whole range of pink domestic products, pink beauty stations and dollies and teddies. We are manipulating girls at an early stage to be the carers and to be satisfied with domesticated bliss. This is fine if we are giving boys the same message. We are in the 21st century and we would now expect our men to be in the kitchen and to help with domestic duties. But this is not the case. The majority of women are still the main carers and in charge of the domestic household – even if both partners work full time.  Does this acceptance stem from being exposed at an early age to toys which are preparing us for domesticity?

Most toys are pink or blue. Manufacturers are stereotyping our children and contributing to the struggle for girls to break away from the restraints of the kitchen.

The biggest killer of men under the age of 45 is suicide. We need to help our boys emotionally and to be able to express their feelings. Boys should be encouraged to talk and to cry. But we use language like ‘man up’ and ‘big boys don’t cry’. Boys should be playing with teddies and dollies. But mums and dads are worried that their sons will ‘become gay’ if their son is seen pushing a hoover or rocking dolly to sleep. God forbid he puts on a wig. Life over.

Girls toys encourage the use of language, role play and conversation. So again think of the differences if boys were encouraged to play with these and they weren’t seen as ‘soft’.

Our attitudes need to change.

Then we come onto to contentious area of clothing. Take a look at these examples below.

Yes you are right. There are many more examples of T-shirts that are not as blatant as these. But the point is, these T-shirts exist. They are giving our children the message that Boys = Strong and Macho. Girls = Pretty and Caring.

We want all our children to be given the same opportunities, messages and values.

Girls can be anything they want – they do not need to be limited in their life choices.

Boys can be caring, gentle and domesticated – they could talk about their feelings without fear of being less of a man.

So for me, yes I want to see more gender neutrality. What do you think?

Until the next time, here’s to a calm and happy (and gender free) home 🙂