The modern society has designated a gender based colour code for our children. Blue color for boys and pink for girls.
Little did I realize before having children that these colors go beyond the dresses. They manifest themselves as body images, personalities, mannerisms and shape the entire outlook of life.
I grapple with this color issue in everyday life while raising my boys. For one, I want them to be part of the society where they can go freely and select ‘pink’ if this is the hue they desire without the fear of ‘what others will think?‘. But I am still not there yet. Here is my story.
I have overheard several examples when children teased the kid for selecting colours that “belong to the other gender”. This is a common place occurrence for boys because apparently “girls can wear blue, but boys cannot wear pink”
The above is the statement quoted by a salesman when I was crib shopping for our first child.
That was years ago. But in a recent discussion with one of my mom friends, she mentioned that her son came home from school in a bad mood. When prodded he said,”kids laughed at me for using pink scissors in the class!”
These children will build our future society based on the concepts they learned in their childhood. If they learn that it is alright to mock their friends for their colour choices, imagine the future that we have been attempting to help them create..
Kudos to our society! We have succeeded in creating immense stress and a world where kids cannot openly express for the gender prejudice that inhabits their little peers. This indeed is not a sign of a healthy society.
What has the world come to?
I would say the girls have more freedom than boys regarding colors, toys, and general entertainment. Boys do not have liberty to wear pink, play with dolls or even watch the TV series of their choice without being ridiculed.
As an adult, our mentality is superfluous than the children we raise. Adults can quickly discern a toy or TV series as a boy or girl specific; whereas children if left on their own, choose based on functionality and the story that keeps them engaged and entertained.
Most women would want a man who could watch a chick-flick with her. But as parents, we do not encourage that idea for the little boys as we steer our kids to conform to the set masculine standards for this gender.
We live in a world of double standards. Most women would want a man who could watch a chick-flick with her. But as parents, we do not encourage that idea for the little boys as we steer our kids to conform to the set masculine standards for this gender.
But then why is there a colour taboo in the little people’s world?
Who are the Influencers?
As you enter the retail stores, there is segregation of the toys by gender. So, even if the little girl wants to play with dinosaurs or trucks, she might not have the courage to cross the gender boundary and go to other section with her parents for that toy. Even worse, she might not be exposed to such a play at all for she would never visit those aisles.
Media, TV commercials and books further solidify the conventional beliefs of boys versus girls. But the most important influencers are still the parents. Children see and interact with them in these roles at home.
And, who benefits from this?
Retailers realized that the more they could gender-ize their merchandise the better they sell. So, we have not only clothes but the whole gamut of things related to the boy and the girl stuff; cribs, accessories, decor, toys, TV shows, movies and so on.
Our society’s progress is skewed. We are moving towards gender equality, equal pay, and job opportunities while on the other hand, we allow the consumerism to mold our children’s minds to the stereotypical concepts that would stay with them for the lifetime.
What can we do?
Take responsibility. As a parent and an adult, it is my responsibility to educate children about the actual reasons behind the colour segregation. Talk to children about consumerism.
Gender separation of the colors, toys, books, clothing, entertainment is not an identity, but means to earn more money for the retailers.
If children themselves are aligned to specific interests then it is agreeable, but being forced by these outside factors is not acceptable.
Education at home itself would not suffice. The child can understand this concept but not have the courage to defy the color rule publicly in fear of being bullied. There has to be a mass awareness, at the level of schools and other public and media sources.
Masculinity is not about wearing blue, playing with trucks and swords or watching Star Wars. Being feminine is not about wearing pink, being submissive, knowing how to cook, sew or waiting to be rescued by a prince. It is about taking charge of your life, and respecting and being kind to the people on the other side.
If I can teach this to my children, I have done my job as a parent.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you have any untold stories to share?
Featured Image Source: Flickr