Let kids be kids: a note on gender equality

Fighting for gender equality is not only about feminism

Gender equality is not about feminism

The other day, while browsing Facebook, I encountered this article that tackled gender equality. As a mom of a very active little boy and expecting a little baby girl, this article went straight to the center of what’s going on in our lives.  


Lin Kramer decided to call out a well known party store about their kids halloween costume line. What she flags is how unequal and sexist the costume choices are between little boys and girls. Boys get the option of choosing great professions, while little girls are condemned as being sexy or not even having a choice of profession. As she clearly says, these are “antiquated views of gender roles” and I believe they have no place in this society.


“When describing the girl costume, your marketing team elected to use language like “cute cop” and “sassy and sweet,” while for the boy costume, they chose to note the “realistic scaled-down police shirt” and assert that “this protector of the peace has it all under control!” ~ Lin Kramer 


My husband would qualify this as “feminist b**ching” and would tell me to get over it, that that’s just the way it is, but I’m not buying it. I believe he’ll change his mind when he holds his daughter for the first time in his hands and realizes he wants what’s best for her.


I may be a feminist b*tch, but as an expectant mother of a little girl, I can only hope that she’ll have the same opportunities as her older brother in life, and I believe it is my job to fight for her rights. Why can’t she be a cop, or a surgeon (not a sexy nurse) if she wishes to?


When I was young, I oh so wanted to play with Legos. But at the time Legos were seen as a boy toy, and I was so shy there was no way I was going to ask for Legos. Instead I played with Barbies and Little Ponies. I wonder if my career choice would have been different had I played with Legos as a kid.


As a woman, I grew up with this kind of gender inequality and I still resent it. When I was young, certain things were reserved for boys. Like playing hockey. I wanted to play hockey, but since it was a boys game there was no way I’d even try. A few years later, my best friend started playing hockey. Times were changing, she was the only girl in the team. I admired her audacity. But then she was benched, a lot. So much so that after a few years she switched to a girls team in a different sport. Gender equality in theory, but not in practice.

Gender equality is not about feminism

Now the mother of a little boy I get to play hockey and with Legos all the time (his choice)! And today, little girls have some choice of Legos. Gender equality in theory, but not in practice. Unconsciously, Legos are still a boys toy, except for their line called “Friends”. Would you buy their Star Wars, or Ninjago, or even their City products to a little girl? The answer is very likely: no.

Credit: Amazon.com

Back to now.  Pregnant with a little girl, I want her to be able to do what she want, without feeling like some things are forbidden to her because she’s a little girl.  


But there’s something else. As much as we like to trash about gender inequality, I believe this gender equality thing is also a problem for little boys. A problem we definitely don’t want to talk about, or feel is not important because its scale is so much smaller than the problem with female gender equality.


As much as we like to trash about gender inequality, I believe this is also a problem for little boys. A problem we definitely don’t want to talk about, or feel is not important because its scale is so much smaller than female gender equality.


If little girls are condemned to sexist toys and costumes, well, so are little boys’, in the opposite way. According to most toy stores, little boys can’t be princes/princesses, wear crowns, play with dolls or kitchen equipment. Most of these are relegated to the “girl toy department”, just like cars, trains and Legos are in the boy toy section.  As a mom of a little boy, this makes me sad.


Last week we went shopping for underwear (see my post on potty training). He kept saying as how he wanted “Elsa and Anna” underwear and I agreed that he could pick what he wanted. When we got to the store though, I was so disappointed to see that there were no Elsa and Anna boy underwear, but only Olaf and Sven (and the selection was quite small). He kept pointing to the girls underwear, saying he wanted those, but for an obvious anatomy clothing design problem I couldn’t buy these. I bought what I could, meaning a pack of 3 Frozen-themed boy underwear, but sadly, there was no Elsa and Anna on it.  


It really shocked me and I was furious. I mean, Disney, come on! This movie is quite popular, and I believe it is somewhat gender equal, or at least more than a lot of previous movies. If my little boy wants Elsa and Anna on his underwear, why can’t he?

And as a side note, which man doesn’t want the face of pretty princesses on the front of his underwear (okay, that was sexist, but it proved my point).

Credit: Amazon.com

I looked online to find him what he wanted, without luck. It doesn’t exist. Now every time I go to the Disney store I get furious at how unequal it is. The girl section gets all the glitter, and tiaras, and princesses costumes and dolls. Even more sexist, Kristoff’s and Prince Hans doll hair is plastic, while the princesses have “real” hair.  What the heck??? And of course, the boys get all the superheroes.  


I wonder if their next movie could throw out all the gender inequality out the window and reverse it.  What if Frozen was about two brothers and a woman ice sales rep? What if the female gnome saved the little prince and the male was the tender father figure?


Whatever president Obama may be saying, we are far from gender equality, on both sides.  Lets work hard together on gender equality to make a better future for our children, both boys and girls.

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