Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what society deems acceptable for girls and what is acceptable for boys. I came across a post not too long ago where the author highlighted products that were geared toward an individual gender. The author made statements like, "Because who wants to use a plain black microscope? No, it must be pink." The comments were very sarcastic in tone, and sexist in nature. Since actual tone cannot be conveyed properly in text form, I can only assume that the whole thing was more tongue in cheek than totally serious but it kind of struck a nerve with me. The more I thought about the subject of the article, the more I realized how much society relies on a double standard.
The reason there are different colored items for girls and boys is because that is what society has had engrained in them for so long. Pink is for girls, and blue is for boys. When shopping for a little girl we buy her Barbie dolls, princess clothes, and sparkly shoes. When shopping for a little boy we automatically gravitate towards superheroes, cowboy boots, and matchbox cars.
When I was younger there was no such thing as a girl liking boy stuff just because she liked that stuff. No, she was labeled a tomboy by society. She wasn't just a girl that liked the same things that boys like. She was different. As for boys, heaven forbid a boy liked anything "girly" back then. Boys are supposed to be masculine, and tough, and if a little boy even cried he was called a sissy. So, for as long as I can remember there has been this invisible line that seperates girly stuff from boy stuff.
Today, this line has become quite blurred though. The girls of today's generations are being told they can be anything they want to be. They are told they can do anything they want to do. They are lifted up day in and day out with encouraging words of strength. They are believing that they are just as good, if not better, as boys in anything and everything from school smarts to athletics, from the business world to the kitchen. Girls can do it all, and sometimes they really do. The same cannot be said for boys though. There is still a stigma that is hanging around that boys cannot do anything girly. Not everyone looks down their nose at boys/men that aspire to be dancers, gymnasts, or stay at home dads but there is still this notion that men need to be manly, and somehow these things are not manly.
When it comes to clothing choices, girls have such a wide range of options from different colors to different textures. Girls get all the cute stuff while boys are left with basketball shorts and boring teeshirts. Granted, this is all for your average working class family... if you've got the money for high end boutiques then there are plenty of cute boy clothes but that also brings it's own stigma which I will get to shortly. Anyway, so girls are given all of these clothing options, not to mention accessories and shoes to go with them. Girls are still being subconciously told they need to be pretty to be accepted, that they need to dress in cute clothes to impress a boy, or their neighbors, or one-up their arch nemesis. Boys are having it shoved down their throats that all that matters is comfort and sports. Look at all the teeshirts in the boy's section and they mention having swag, shooting hoops, owning the field, or having mad ninja skills. It's all about being the tough guy. Think about that the next time you are shopping with your kids, then think about what you and others think of little boys dressed in their button down shirts and skinny jeans and pink Converse. I'm willing to bet that if this was a 2 year old you would think it was cute, only after your initial reaction of "pink is a girl's color" but if this were a teen boy you're thought process would be a little different. Now, I am not saying everyone jumps to this same conclusion but the fact of the matter... it's still there. The thought that the way someone dresses can affect their sexuality is plain ridiculous. A color is a color is a color. Dressing nice is dressing nice is dressing nice. All genders should have the opportunity to wear what makes them happy regardless of the color or the glitter or the casualness of it.
Girls are so constantly told they can like whatever they want. Girls go see the Avengers movies dressed as their favorite superhero. Girls dress their Build a Bear up as Darth Vader and run around the house with their own personal lightsaber that they got for Christmas. Girls can have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday parties and play soccer on the boy's team. Girls can wear basketball shorts and grungy teeshirts and are no longer called tomboys... think about that, when is the last time someone referred to a girl as anything other than a girl? Now think about the last time a boy was picked on or talked about or judged based on the color he likes, the shows he watches, the sports he doesn't play... double standard, no?
When a little boy plays with a baby doll, or pushes a stroller while wearing high heels and carrying a purse, the first thing everyone thinks is, "something is wrong with this picture." In all honestly, the only thing wrong is that you think there is something wrong. A toy is a toy whether the kid is 2 or 12. Girls don't have to worry about the things they like. A boy can't like My Little Pony or Barbies because someone might think he is gay, or call him a sissy, or worse, hurt him for liking those things. My boys can like pink and purple and My Little Pony and aspire to be ballet dancers if that is what they want. I won't worry about whether they are gay or straight or not manly enough because in my eyes they are just who they are meant to be. No one should take away their right to express themselves in the way they see fit. No one should be shoving down their throat that if they cry they are a sissy, or if they become a stay at home dad they aren't man enough.
I hope one day we can erase this stigma and completely obliterated that shady line between what is boy appropriate and what isn't. If a girl can do and be anything she wants, so can a boy. We complain all the time about men not being sensitive enough... well guess who is to blame? We are. We are to blame for telling boys they need to be manly, and strong, and never cry because crying is for sissies and girls are sissies. We all know that isn't true about girls anymore. We are tough little birds so why can't we believe that boys can be more sensitive if we just stopped feeding them "Wheaties Logic."
I will leave you with this final thought... if your daughter wanted a Spiderman bike, would you think twice about buying it for her? Now, what if your son wanted a pink sparkly bike? I'll be honest, if my son asked for a pink bike I would ask if he was sure that was what he wanted and let him know that not everyone would agree with his choice but I would probably do the same for my girls.
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