Gender Stereotyping Was, Unfortunately, Part of My Childhood
I remember when I was in kindergarten, my friends and I would bring all of our dolls and J-14 magazines with all the latest gossip on Zac Efron and the queens of Disney Channel. It was like a slumber party every afternoon. I also remember how the boys would tease us because we undressed the dolls in front of them when changing their clothes. I suppose that made them uncomfortable.
There was this boy, who always sat with a small group of girls, that would also undress the dolls. Not because he was being a little pervert (that’s what my six-year-old self-thought at one point) but because he was legitimately playing with dolls. Every day he played with dolls, either alone or with a girl or two. This boy, I remember so randomly, yet so distinctively, was bullied by the boys and girls who saw this.
I was only six, so I didn’t understand why they were laughing and making comments on how “weird” he was, but I do remember thinking he was weird and that boys who played with dolls were not normal and “weird”.
Thanks to years of growing and learning, my mentality changed quickly. I now try to avoid being influenced by gender norms and gender stereotypes. It took time to learn and understand, but that’s all it took– openness to understanding. I realized we all made fun of that poor boy who played with dolls because we’ve been told - those 6 or more little years of our lives - that pink was a girl’s color and only boys can like “boy sports”. At least, that’s what I remember being taught.
I heard so many things growing up, starting in pre-school. I believed “boys are faster and stronger than girls”, or “only girls can like pink and purple”, or “girls are smarter than boys”. Even though none of these are accurate statements, I remember feeling sad when I lost a race to a boy on the playground, thinking it was because I was weak because I was a girl. Then I remember hating that part about being a girl.
I feel like those same preschoolers are the ones today breaking gender stereotypes. That proves our generation has come a long way, but we need to continue, so we can reach the minds of current preschoolers.
I want the next generation of six-year-olds to think neutrally when it comes to genders. Little boys playing with dolls, that needs to be normalized. Little girls liking “boy sports,” that needs to be normalized, and the term “boy sports” is canceled. Sorry, sweetie. Same goes for “hit/cry like a girl,” but that was partially and successfully called out for after that Always Ultra-Thin commercial. The point is I don’t want future children to believe these stereotypes like I did and I’m sure many others did as well. It limited my potential talents and abilities and took away opportunities I could’ve taken. I wish and hope that same little boy who played with boys is reading this. If you are, I want to apologize on behalf of the 2006 afterschool kids for our ignorance.
Men can be feminine. Women can be masculine. We are all people.