Normally I would steer clear of something potentially controversial, but this ‘gender neutral’ term is being bandied about in a effort to raise more rounded human beings but I think we’re going about it the wrong way.
Firstly, let me be clear, I applaud the idea of not sticking to the stereotypes. Sayings like ‘Big boys don’t cry’ and ‘That’s a girls toy’ make me both furious and despair in equal measure. I don’t intend to chose my son’s hobbies, toys and clothes based on what I think is appropriate for his gender.
But at the same time he is a boy and that should be celebrated. Just like girls should be celebrated.
The problem with trying to be gender neutral is we’re fighting against centuries of learned behaviour. What seems to be happening is the idea of ‘gender neutral’ is becoming a gender in itself; Male, Female, Neutral.
I’ll explain further.
A typical example, there was outrage from parents trying to buy school shoes for their children in Clarks, what (quite rightly) made some parents cross was that the shoes available for the girls were mostly pink in colour and not as robust in design as the boys. How are we to encourage our daughters to play and explore if their shoes are only fit for playing house. Clarks responded admirably to the criticism by announcing they would be creating a line of ‘gender neutral’ shoes. But in my opinion if you are choosing something designed to be ‘gender neutral’, you are in fact not be gender neutral. A truly gender neutral approach would be to let you child pick absolutely ANY pair of damn shoes in the shop. That’s neutral, child needs shoes, child chooses shoes, you buy shoes. Gender neutral. Child has shoes. Colour, style, design mean nothing, they are shoes. But we seem incapable of thinking like this. What seems potentially dangerous about this is we are potentially raising a generation of confused adults. So instead of aiming for neutrality, let’s celebrate children. Imperfect, capricious, wonderful children. Let’s give them the power to decide what clothes they want to wear, what toys they want to play with and what activities they want to take part in. And be truly supportive of the decisions they make. Because in order for true ‘gender neutrality’, it needs to come from the children. Not us.
In other news:
William has developed a love of dried wheetabix. He helps himself and sprinkles crumbs all over the house.
The boy has been snoring his head off all afternoon despite me trying repeatedly to wake him up. Looks like we’ll be taking a long evening walk tonight.
Date night for me and hubs tonight, pie, chips and an evening in front of the telly. Let it never be said we don’t know how to party.