Two words: Gender. Stereotyping.
What’s the deal? Seriously, why?
Why, in this world of endless opportunities and infinite experiences available at your fingertips, would you box your daughter in by calling her your Princess? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not normally one to judge and if someone else wants to do it then that’s fine – your kid, your rules. But in my house, with my children and with the epic future they have in front of them, Princess just doesn’t do it for us.
When someone calls their daughter a Princess, they are buying into a world of pink and glitter and Disneyfied shit-for-brains, where beauty is a more desirable attribute than kindness or compassion or humanity. A world where companies rely on parents separating the personalities of their sons and daughters so rigorously that to buy a pink glue stick for a boy would be utter sacrilege. A world where boys can only be branded as “tough guys” and the only past time a girl should enjoy is looking in the mirror applying lip gloss.
Totally Vom-worthy slogans
I have seen and heard such an inordinate amount of gender bullshit in the past few months. For instance, this beautifully sarcastic list of unnecessarily gendered products that gave me fist-curling, exasperated rage giggles. And then there’s a story a friend told me about a woman she’d overheard shouting at her daughter in a supermarket because she picked up a Mike the Knight magazine. Because apparently reading a “boy’s magazine” will magically turn her into a boy. Or perhaps she’ll morph into a raving, uncontrollable lesbian who would embarrass her mother and cause worldwide alarm at the unnaturalness of it all. I mean, what the …
And if that isn’t enough, you’ve got to battle through the swathes of gendered baby clothes, because babies give so many fucks about what they’re wearing, then there’s pink and blue pull-up nappies, potties, dummies, hair grips for babies that don’t .. even .. have … hair! When will these ridiculous companies and conglomerates realise that children are living, functioning, multi-faceted, amazing bundles of molecules that have so much potential for so many wondrous feats, and yet they are separated into these boxes and told from the age of zilch that unless they remain in these boxes they are not valid humans. That is not humanity. That is greed.
Because that’s what it is. Money. Companies can make one gender-neutral product that would work for both sexes (take a stick of glue, for example) or they can make one of each colour, market the shit out of it, give it some fancy packaging and lo and behold, mum of two buys a pink one for the girl and a blue one for the boy. It’s mind-bogglingly dumb in an anthropological sense, but a bloody genius idea for boosting profits and CEO bonuses. Clap clap. Bravo. Well done.
And the even more amazing thing is that parents buy into all of this. They call their daughters Princess and their sons Tough Guy and expect them to live up to this. There is nothing wrong with a child feeling comfortable with their gender, in fact it is a wonderful thing, but to push it so far, to shovel spoonfuls of gender bullshit down their little necks at such a young age when they are fresh and sponge-like, soaking in the world around them and forming their own thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the world, the only thing that this pink and blue Berlin Wall is doing is damaging our offspring and fencing them in.
You could say I’m a hypocrite, considering the amount of pink that is splatted around my house in the areas the children frequent the most, but rest assured, most of these have been gifts. I’m not going to get shitty about that kind of thing because it’s a loving, thoughtful thing for friends and family to bestow gifts upon my daughters, but the idea I object to is that everything must be pink. Who needs pink science equipment? Girls, of course! Because obviously the female brain cannot possibly function scientifically unless there is at least one pink object in view.
My six year old hasn’t been overly bombarded with pink and glitter, but now that she’s in school she has inevitably picked up from other, more “girly” girls, the idea that she is only a “proper” girl if she likes pink and barbies and plays the princess in their games of make-believe. A member of my family seemed shocked when I told her that I was buying some Lego for my daughter for Christmas, labelling it as a “boy’s” toy, a notion I found pretty ridiculous considering the amount of fun and enjoyment I got from playing with Lego when I was younger. Talking of Lego, what’s with the girly lego now? Why can’t girls be allowed to play with construction toys without being slapped in the face with pink all the time? Oh yes, sorry I forgot. Girls only function when they receive pinkness intravenously.
Seriously, what message are we sending to those children and young adults who feel they don’t fit into the socially acceptable male or female framework, where girls are expected to be dainty, softly spoken and with the life goal of settling down and starting a family? That’s not a terrible path to choose, but it’s not the only one. Girls are more than just a pretty face, more than just a uterus, more than just objects to be viewed, appreciated and admired. Boys aren’t just macho, muscular bread-winners who aren’t allowed access to their emotions without being labelled gay or pussy. What ballsed-up world are we living in when parents are so doggedly determined that their children fit into a pink or blue box that gender conversion therapies even exist? Why is it an issue if your child was born into the wrong body? Why is it an issue if your child is gay? If your child’s gender identity or sexuality is a problem, not only are you a terrible parent, you are a terrible human being. If you can’t look at your own child, this amazing creation that exists on this earth entirely because of you and you can’t see past this malleable, fluid thing that is gender (or sexuality) and love the human being behind it then you are denying them the loving, understanding and emotionally connected parent that they so deserve.
Boxes shouldn’t even exist. We as human beings are made up of so much more than gender that to hem ourselves and our children in is just that: hemming ourselves in. And that really, really sucks.