We love this picture as it really made us think about the equality debate and whether children are still being raised according to gender.
Where we so focused on equality for women that we forgot about spreading the word to children? When we hear the word feminism, our minds are perhaps taken back to outdated images of angry activists, marching rightly for equality.
However, as equality has become an expectation rather than a movement, and the divide has become less prominent between men and women, the feminist message has been subdued by the welcomed changes in society.
While there may have been a shift in society (although statistics show there’s still a long way to go with women in the workforce), these attitudes have not always been filtered down to how we raise our children.
Nature vs. Nurture
In many respects, children are still being raised (whether subconsciously or not) with ideas on how girls and boys should behave. Everything down from the colors they wear, the toys they play with, to how they interact.
Do girls really like pink or is it because they are covered in it from an age that they’re naturally drawn to it? Do boys really like playing with action toys, or would they have been equally as happy with a Barbie on their third birthday?
The nature vs. nurture argument is one that has been studied by scientists and psychologists for years, however one thing that is clear is that by limiting children to gender-neutral colors and toys, we’re also limiting their development.
The UK’s most famous toy shop, Hamleys, last year made changes to the layout of its enormous flagship in central London after being caught up in a Twitter campaign over its apparent “gender apartheid”. The changes included abandoning the separate floors they had for boys’ and girls’ toys and removing the pink and blue signs they used to distinguish toys by gender.
What’s interesting about this case, is that until you really think about it, having a toy shop designed according to gender, or dressing your little girl in all pink, doesn’t really seemed too out of the ordinary. However, when you think about it, these types of messages condition children from a young age – telling them how they should act, what they should like, and that there’s a clear divide between women and men. It’s not about feminism, it’s about equality and being who you want to be, and this message needs to start with our children.
What Can You Do To Promote Gender Equality For Children?
If you’re a parent or carer raising young children, encourage their uniqueness and give them a choice when it comes to choosing their toys or activities. See what they naturally gravitate towards and make your buying decision based on this, rather than what their gender dictates.
You can also find out whether your child’s school favors gender distinctions when it comes to sports, activities or attitudes. If they do, speak to them about the need for equality in the classroom and playground and help dispel old attitudes.
What are your views about children being raised according to gender? If you’re a parent or a teacher, are you aware you’re doing it (or the consequences of it)?