Breaking the stereotype

20140904_102520My eldest son had a playdate yesterday during which I was a little disappointed to find myself inadvertently swapping over the kids bowls to give him the blue one and his female friend the purple one.  Now the reason I found this quite shocking is that I am a firm believer that stereotypes should not be forced upon our children.

True my son has a mountain of dinosaurs and superhero toys but this is what he chooses to play with. Now I’m not saying that girls shouldn’t play with dolls and boys with trains, I just believe that they should not be limited to and especially not forced to comply with these stereotypes.

Toys which are usual marketed towards boys contain more educational qualities than those associated with girls; building blocks for example encourage dexterity and cognitive skills, whereas ‘girls’ toys tend to teach social skills and creativity. So by limiting our children to specific toys we could be at risk of jeopardising their educational and social development as well as robbing them of experiences and stifling their individuality.

The ‘let Books be books’ campaign is a petition to encourage the publishing industry to stop labelling  books as gender specific items. And I completely agree with them, education and creativity are genderless so why shouldn’t books be?

Author Laura Dockrill, a supporter of the ‘let books be books’ campaign said “Children should have the right to choose their own literature and we should be supporting them to carve their paths of interests instead of narrowing them. It is ignorant, old fashioned and ugly to isolate anybody from the beautiful freedom and escapism of the mind that reading for pleasure brings”.

In our house we have developed a love of Oliver Jeffers books recently thanks to my brother in law, and his and Drew Daywalt’s new book The Day the Crayons Quit is a great example of breaking these gender stereotypes as well as teaching social tolerance.  In the book Duncan receives letters from all his crayons explaining why they refuse to work, each have their own reasons but it is pink that I am going to use as an example today. Pink protests that he/she is used solely by Duncan’s little sister because pink is a ‘girls’ colour,  It is then suggested to Duncan that he should try drawing a pink dinosaur or cowboy instead. Let’s not forget that up until the 1920s pink was in fact associated as a boys colour. A 1918 editorial from Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department (No relation) stated The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” So let’s forget the fickleness of the gender ‘rule’ and let nature trump nurture when it comes to our child’s preferences and let them enjoy being kids.

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