We hear a lot about how gender stereotyping affects girls but LESS about how gender stereotyping affects boys, and particularly young boys. From the clothes that they wear, to the toys that they play with, boys are told from a young age that ‘Pink is for girls’ and that certain toys are ‘girly’. In fact Genderbuzz was talking about this only last week and how seemingly harmless ‘colour coding’ for kids can have long term effects on male mental health.
‘It dawned on me that gender stereotyping was REAL when I had a SON’
A couple of Mums we have spoken to have said that they really became aware of gender stereotyping when they’d had a son. Some recount stories of their boys being told in public that pink toys are for ‘girls’, and that it makes them sad that even at a young age, their sons are acutely aware that they ‘should’ only like certain things and do certain things ‘because they’re a BOY’.
‘Colour-coding’ is NOT cool – for BOYS
Well-known blogger Ellamentalmama has written about how she resents the pressure to ‘colour code’ her son. She says ‘My son was barely a week old when I took him to a work gathering dressed in a cute little hungry caterpillar outfit, when the guy I was chatting away to seemed to be slightly uncomfortable and explained, ‘it’s difficult because you didn’t colour code the baby’. (Eye roll). Ella continues:
‘It hasn’t got better as he’s grown. My son faces sexist drivel most days. Don’t get me wrong, I know girls and women bear the brunt of sexism in the UK, from physical abuse to workplace discrimination. But that’s my whole issue; the two are inextricably linked. If you’re going colour code my child so you know how to treat him and then limit his opportunity to be a caring, equality-loving boy who can play with whatever he likes, then really you’re telling me that the sexism that girls and women experience on a daily basis doesn’t really matter either. If you want to push my son in to being a ‘big boy’ and ‘man up’ and hide his feelings, how will he be emotionally literate as an adult?’ Read the full version of Ella’s brilliant blog right HERE
PINK IS JUST A COLOUR!
Whether we like it or not, Gender stereotyping DOES have a negative effect on the emotional well being of our sons, and it all starts with the relentless colour coding of toys and clothes from the day they’re born. If clothing and toy brands want to make the social contribution they say they do, then neutralising the gender association with BLUE & PINK is the place to start.