Friday, May 8, 2009

Gender Bias

I know, I know... it's probably just my electrolytes being out of whack, but I'm tired of all the girlie crap.

Yes, you will all cry out in unison, there was that brief period in your early to middle thirties with the blonde-on blonde hair, the fake nails, the yo-yo dieting, the obsessive working out, the jewelry... and I will concede your point. What I'm talking about here is the seeming bias towards little boys.

Yeah, a bias against males. I said it.

I've been a feminist long before it became a dirty word. Like the word liberal, which I was too, long before it became a dirty word south of the border and a joke above. I'm also a nurse, which confuses the hell out of some people as they could never see me in such a traditional female role. Well, that makes two of us ok? But I am.

What's got my (much needed) bra in a bunch at the moment is my other traditional female role: mother. I've been blessed with a wonderful, bright little boy. He's three now, and this weekend is (finally!) getting that big boy bed that has been long overdue. Where's the problem, you ask?

The problem lies with our society, more specifically, the shit that is marketed towards our kids. This comes up every time I have to shop for Quinn, especially now that frugal is the order of the day. Go into any department or children's store and do a quick check: how much is available for boys and how much for girls? Depending on the store, anywhere from 55 to 80% will be girl oriented. Even my much beloved Please Mum falls into the numbers trap. It's not just the volume either, it's a whole spectrum of colour and style that is available only for girls. I thought it was bad when I was growing up: blue for boys, pink for girls. Pastels for girls, earth tones for boys. This is probably why I wore (and wear) black so much. Now it's an overwhelming rainbow of colour and glitter and style and fashion and fun... if you are a girl. This leads to another argument regarding little girls growing up too fast (I saw black fishnets on a little girl the other day), and I wholeheartedly agree; I'm also going to leave that one up to mothers of little girls. They can run with that ball as it is the little boys that I care about at the moment.

Sure, I dress Quinn in a lot of blue. He has brilliant blue eyes and blonde hair and he looks great in it. If he had my colouring, my choices might be different. It's not just the colours I'm on about tho', it's the themes and the role models and the lack of overall imagination for our boy children. Take my bedding dilemma: I've been searching all over town for bedding for this child for months now. Am I that picky? Ok, I am, but that is beside the point and I need you to focus here... Let's take Sears. Good ol' middle of the road Sears. Here's the link to the kids bedding.

Assuming you take the "Krazy Kritters" (which is no longer available anyway which sucks as I would have considered it) and my much beloved Spongebob Squarepants out of the equation, 51% of that page is still aimed at girls. Sure, there is the stereotypical Princesses and Tinkerbell and yes, even f'n Dora. There is a lot of other brightly coloured stuff too, with flowers and whatnot. Non-branded, in other words. 8 out of 27 choices are colourful, fun, non branded choices for a little girls room. So, what is there for the boys?


Unless you like Disney/Pixar or superheroes or Dora's bastard half brother Diego, you're out of luck, bud. The other two options involve sports: NHL and snowboarding. Sure, I think some of those things are cool. I know Quinn thinks some of these things are cool... now, when he's THREE, but not cool enough to put up with them for the next 4 or 5 years or so. It's pretty much the same story in "youth bedding", the exceptions being a fighter jet set that would be awesome for our buddy Ty, but not for Quinn. There is one. It has cars on it. I'm sure that was a stretch for the designers.

So, to recap; If you are a boy, you'd better like superheroes, vehicles or sports. Even plain is not an option. Jeezus, even in the 50's they had cowboys and shit... Can we do blue? Plain blue or green? Maybe a plaid? Oh wait, sorry... that's girlie too.

Why do I care so much? Probably because I've read too much psychology and seen too much psychiatry to know what forcing someone to be something they are not does to a person. My son may love hockey like his dad, or he may not care about it like his mom (yeah, I said that too). He may be mechanically inclined, he may not care. Maybe he will like Batman, maybe he'll prefer Rorschach or one of the Endless (and I guar-an-damn-tee there won't be co-ordinating bedding for them). He's adorable and charming, so at least one sex will be lining up around the block and (newsflash!!) we don't decide who that is.

My point is this: We do this to ourselves. This is how we suck the creativity out of our kids, specifically little boys. You would think in this day and age that this dead horse would have been picked clean long ago, but obviously it hasn't. You want true equality between the sexes? Make it equal. Little boys grow up to be men: let's creatively liberate them too, ok? Give them some paint splotches or some animals (might be the only way they ever see an elephant or a gorilla the way we are going) or music or bugs. Give the girls some space themed stuff, or trucks. Give boys some colour for heaven's sake... give them some choice. It's not going to dictate who he takes to the f'n prom.

It may however, set the tone for how he approaches a problem, how he copes with life or maybe even how he treats his fellow human beings. Just throwing it out there...

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