Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gender Equality Seems To Be Unequal

I read an article a few minutes ago. It's right here. I'll wait while you go read it.  
Here's my take:
I completely understand the issue with gender stereotyping. I've dealt with it myself a few times. Just because I'm a woman I can't change a tire...Psh. Please.
But I'm getting a little frustrated with the way it's portrayed as being one sided. That girls are the only one's who face these issues. Don't get me wrong. They face a lot of them and they continue to face them as they grow. But you know what? Boys do too.
This article says: "When they can only pick from princesses or fashion dolls, it teaches girls a limited definition of who they can be and that gender is the most important part of their personality, says Wardy, of Janesville, Wisc., who argues boys have a wider range of choices when it comes to clothing color and toys."
Um...forgive me but boys do NOT have a wider range of choices when it comes to clothing.
Color maybe...But not clothing.
For God's sake...I haven't cut Gabriel's hair since he was born and I can't go a DAY without someone telling me I need to take him to the barber. I think his hair is gorgeous and I love the way it looks long. I love seeing it tucked behind his little ears and the curls in the back. I love seeing it when it falls in his face and he brushes it back. And who made the rule that boys have to have short hair?
Also...Why is it OK for girls to be "tomboys" and like boy things, because they're just breaking free of the feminine princess mold we put them in, but it's not socially acceptable for a boy to play with a baby doll or a Barbie? Why can a girl dress in boy clothes and expect to be left alone...but if a boy wears a skirt or a dress or something sparkly he gets picked on? By everyone?
I never really paid attention to it until I had G. For me it started when people all bought him boy things before he was even born. Then I didn't cut his hair when it started getting long.
Then there was the time I was asked by our Lodge's Ladies Auxillary what he would like for Christmas so that they could get him something for Santa to give him at the annual kids Christmas party. I wrote down on the form they gave me "Please get him a baby doll". He got a power drill. And when I asked why he got the power drill instead of what I asked for they told me he was a boy and boys like tools. Not babies.
Don't get me wrong. I adore all of the women at our Lodge. I know how much they love G and they were just being sweet and loving. They didn't take me seriously. I kindly explained that I wanted him to have a baby because he had taken an interest in babies in the few days he spent in day care this year when his Daddy-Man was traveling. He was interested in all things baby. When he heard a baby cry he would say "Aww baby sad" and then want to go pat them or kiss them. I thought he'd love having a baby of his own to love on. After dolls teach us emotional empathy. He's going to be a daddy some day and I want him to be a kind, loving and empathetic one.
Not to mention the educational opportunities. He could learn how to dress and undress the baby. How to count it's fingers and toes, eyes and ears. Once I explained all of that they totally understood and realized I made a good point. Again...I love these ladies. They are sweet as sugar. I could never be mad at them. And they catch on really fast.
I'm all for gender equality. But I really, really, really would like for it to be completely equal. On both sides.
My friend Nashville is getting ready to go back to school to become a nurse. Nursing is a female dominated role, isn't it? Why? Are men less caring? Are men less capable of being caregivers?

But traditionally women were nurses and men were doctors. At this point I'd say there are many more female doctors than there are male nurses. Nashville is going to be a great nurse. Kind and caring...anyone who has him looking after them in their time of needs is going to be incredibly lucky. But I can't help wondering how many men will graduate with him. Who knows...maybe he's using nursing school as a way to pick up chicks. (Love you Nashville...only joking...a little. Ish.)
I remember being scandalized when I watched Jerry Maguire for the first time...Ray had a Manny?!?!? Who hired a man to take care of their kid? Didn't they know nannies were supposed to be girls? Who directed this movie? Who cast the guy?
In my defense I was 15 when I watched the movie for the first time and had no clue what gender equality was...but still...What does it say that I was shocked that a man could be considered a good care giver?
I get upset at commercials that portay fathers as buffoons. The TV shows that my kids watch that do the same.
Husband-Man is a fine and wonderful, loving, generous, father. He does the Hot Dog Dance with G any time he wants him to. He's very much an equal partner in raising our kids and while there are things I wish he did the way I do (like finger paints and Play-doh) he is in no way a buffoon. Unless he intends to be. Just because I would do things differently doesn't invalidate his way of doing things. It means our kids get the benefit of seeing us co-parent as a team 
So how about we come down off our "Girls Deserve Equality" high horses and just demand equality for everyone.
If your son wants to be a dancer or ice skater...let him take dance classes. And talk with him about stereotypes and what he can expect.
If your daughter wants to be a race car her video of Danica Patrick and get her driving lessons. And talk with her about stereotypes and what she can expect.
We are all human. We are all worthy of being able to do what we love without being judged for it...unless what you love is killing people or puppies...Then be prepared to be judged and harshly.



Anonymous said...

I couldn't possibly agree more! In pushing gender equality, we're often pushing for inequality. There is a very fine line between asking for equal rights, and demanding more than rights or special exceptions. I hear what you are saying about the commercials! You see it all the time on television. Dare I say, even in the workplace? Why is it okay to make jokes aimed at men and/or their preconceived/steretypical shortcomings? These same comments would never fly if they were aimed at women! HR would be contacted, while men are supposed to take it in stride. Well, I'm a woman and I am offended by it. Go figure. :) Great post!

Carrie Rimstidt said...

Love, Love, Love. I say this on a regular basis Shelley. I have a nephew who's mother is questioned often about his choie in movies and clothing, meanwhile my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle loving 5 year old girl is told she's 'well-rounded.' It's sad that these double standards exist and sadly, they probably will for a while still. Thanks for writing about it <3

Aisha Moore said...

Well said, Shelley! I felt the same way when I had my son. He's 9 now and he still loves stuffed animals. He would watch me paint my nails and want his painted too. I would only paint his toes so no one else would see it. He was two then but now I think I should have gone for it. Now I can see that I was perpetuating the stereotype and telling him to hide a part of himself.