Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Parents Need to Dress Their Boys in More Pink Dresses

I’ve always been fascinated with gender.

I think it’s so interesting to look at how our society is obsessed with it.  What prompted me to write this post was the baby shower I attended a couple of weeks ago. The mother-to-be knows what sex the baby is, but won’t tell anyone. You will not believe how frantic people are about this whole situation, but not because they are merely curious as to what sex the baby is. It’s more like, “How in the world are we going to shop for the right baby clothing if we don’t know what colours to buy?!?” Oh my.

Children are forced early on to perform a certain gender role. Our society demands it.  And children aren’t born knowing how to “be” a girl or boy. Nope, these things are learned through socialization. Although many would say that gender roles have changed a lot in the past 50 years, the fact remains that girls are socialized to adopt these roles:

And boys are meant to adopt these:



Now, I’m not saying that ALL kids play with these very gender distinct toys. I’m not saying that video games are violent or that girls shouldn’t want to play being a mother. What I’m saying is that society expects children to perform their prescribed gender in these kinds of examples. People tend to question what is “wrong” with a child or parent when this happens:

What are kids called when they transgress their prescribed gender roles? Hmmm, let’s see. What about “tomboy” or “sissy”? Most people believe that “tomboys” and “sissies” will outgrow these “phases.” At least they hope that they will. Heaven forbid they defy these gender laws into adulthood, for risk of being labeled “dyke,” “fag,” “pansy,” etc. Don’t we as humans have more pressing issues to worry about, rather than being concerned with those who appear too “effeminate” or too “butch”? Keep in mind that very recently Barnes & Noble decided to censor a magazine cover of a topless, androgynous male model before putting it on their shelves.

Perhaps this is why I love you so much, oh gender ambiguous Lord Bowie.
Thus, the question that I ponder almost everyday is: Why is gender such a big deal?

Yes, heaven forbid we buy the “wrong” colour of baby clothes. Who came up with  gendered colours anyways? I’ll never forget the story that one of my professors told about taking her baby to the supermarket. She dressed her little girl in green that day, and was waiting in line to pay for her groceries. The woman next to her loudly voiced her disapproval and unbelief of the fact that my professor’s baby was so gender ambiguous in the colour green. This lady was offended that my professor could possibly dress her daughter in a “non-girly” colour.

Urgh. I could blog about this topic for days. Or weeks. Or years. Perhaps I will.


  1. The pink and blue blanket thing for the genders comes from hospitals, so that they know which gender the kid is.

  2. This is one of the reasons I was hoping for a girl as my second child - I was going to have a lot of fun dressing her in all of big brother's hand-me-downs and have lots of fun arguing with weirdos who would tell me it's not good to dress a little girl in boy clothes.

    But alas, I have two boys - and of course I love them both! - so I am having fun in other ways. Such as arguing with weirdos who say Dora the Explorer is a girl show.