Blue is for boys right?

The other night I had a moment.  As a parent I have many moments of course, but this particular one felt different.  In this moment I realised that no matter how much I encourage my son to simply be himself, whoever that may be, society will & already is conditioning him to think & behave in a certain way.  It’s conditioning him to ‘fit in’ & to believe things that have literally zero truth to them whatsoever, mainly gender stereotypes

So I’m writing about it because it is absolute bullshit that blue is for boys & pink is for girls.

A situation we found ourselves in recently- needing to buy some new sandals/thongs/flip flops for my son Phoenix & in the shop we were in there were 4 different patterns to choose from for the 2-3 age range.  He chose a pair with fish, turtles & a whale on them.  They were pink & had really cool glitter on them too.  On the tag though they were labelled as ‘girls’. 

I’m not sure why those ones & the purple ones were the ‘girls’ sandals while the ‘boys’ options were grey, blue, green & had sharks or cars on them.  As there was literally no size difference between any of the sandals, why weren’t they simply labelled as ‘unisex’ or ‘children’s shoes’?  Why is there this need in society for us to designate certain colours/animals/machines etc. into a boy or girl gender binary when gender itself is not binary?
(If you disagree with that last part then please go and do some research- there is an abundance of science, information & ancient wisdom & traditions from many First Nations communities out there to help you realise that you are currently uneducated & misinformed on this matter)

My son loves cars.  He loves anything with wheels but guess what?  So do plenty of other 2 year old’s we meet, regardless of their gender!  My son also loves having pretend ‘tea’ parties, brushing his hair, helping with the cooking & cleaning & he loves to dance.

Children are incredibly intelligent.  Especially during the first few years of their lives.  They literally are taking EVERYTHING in.  Most 2 year old’s can understand language & are beginning to speak it themselves.  When we take that into consideration does it not become obvious that they also can understand the associations with ‘boy’ & ‘girl’ toys, colours, objects etc. that society has fabricated but reinforces as being ‘normal’ so strongly?

Children & adults for that matter are allowed to enjoy whatever they please.  My son is allowed to love his trucks, trains & diggers but it does bother me when I see books about those things with only male characters or illustrations in them.  It bothers me when I see advertising for ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toys.  It bothers me that the boys & girls clothing in most stores have stereotypical colours & patterns.  It bothers me that people (both strangers & people we know) make comments about how he is ‘such a proper/real little boy’ when he is playing with his ‘boy’ toys.  It bothers me that so many people think he should cut his hair (he so far has said he doesn’t want it cut) because he is a ‘boy’.  It bothers me that when we are out strangers sometimes think and call him a ‘girl’ because he has his pink shoes on or is wearing a necklace (that he has chosen to wear).

Although all of those things are generally done with good intentions, they still cause harm.  They cause subconscious & sometimes conscious shame, embarrassment & lack of worth.  These types of comments & behaviours teach children that it is not OK to simply be their authentic selves. 

Why can’t we as a society let children be whoever they want to be? 

Why does it bother us?  Is it because when we were children we were treated in that way so it’s all that we know?  Are we projecting our own lack of worth & shame onto our children because we are too afraid to face it ourselves?

I don’t know that I have all the answers.

What I do know is that I am going to spend my years as a parent trying as hard as I can to break the cycle that our society has created & allow my son the chance to grow up being his true self.

Photo by Veronika Koroleva on Unsplash

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