Gender [Non]Specific

Thanks Garrettc

I have an issue. One that has just been reignited by this post from one of my favourite bloggers. It appears that in spite of our best efforts, things continue to go full circle in the gender debate/divide.

She’s objecting to the fact that a popular UK children’s store has now become the seller of plastic tat and, not only that, advertising that continues to gender stereotype our kids.

This is not the first time I’ve been enraged by this issue. Not at all. This very evening I started to read a story to Squidge. It was from the Orchard Book of Magical Tales, retold by Margaret Mayo. I started seething from the first story and haven’t bothered to read any further. In fact, the book has been removed from her libary and is to be burnt ceremonially (kidding!).

The first story is called the Lemon Princess and starts off by saying that the Prince needed to find a wife, but no woman was good enough for him because he wanted the most beautiful woman in the world. No normal babe would do.

He gets told where to find her from an old crone (oh, fabulous), he finds her but loses her thanks to the machinations of an ugly servant girl with coarse hair and dry skin [insert irate bad word here], but beauty wins out in the end because our magical princess is not only super stunning, but she can cook, weave, clean, and serve her man too.

This book is written by a woman! What on earth? I was fuming. Then I read Vonnie’s post above and sighed. After all the hard work that the original women did to get us equal rights, it appears that it has all sort of stopped and started stagnating.

Partially dressed women are still used to promote “male” items such as cars/computers/gadgets. Youth is more important than the funny wisdom of the older woman. And women who want to stay at home and care for their families are attacked and vilified by their own gender. What’s that all about? I thought feminism was about giving us a choice? Not about deriding each other for not being some kind of ideal. That’s just slapping another stereotype onto us.

It is something I ponder a lot. My daughter is hugely into pink. She loves Disney princesses, she loves froofy dresses, she loves all girly things. All on her own bat. I never said, “You is girl. You play Barbie,” she just loves pink. She also loves Doctor Who, Toy Story, climbing and other such pursuits that should, theoretically, clash with her girliness. But why should they clash? Can’t she be a princess who likes computers? I have (I hope) allowed her to be whoever she wants to be and I’ve done my best to let her know that she’s capable of anything.

But, one day (not now obviously), should I tell her that all things are not created equal? That mummies don’t get the same pay as daddies? That many men (and women) will judge her on her looks and not her brains? Or do I hope that, by then, things will have oozed outed of the stone age and that women will have stitched the gender divide right up?

And just to leave you with something to ponder, apparently a study held in 2008 shows that toys are more gender specific than ever before.