How Gender Roles Can Be Harmful to Kids
Let the record show: I'm not a parent. Not planning to be one for quite some time.
That being said, I've been learning about some interesting stuff in class about parenting and gender roles.
What's a gender role?
So gender roles are basically the stereotypes we associate with each gender. Example: Girls wear pink, boys wear blue. Women cook and clean, men mow the lawn and take out the trash. Men are the breadwinners, women should stay at home and take care of the kids.
It's some major BS.
If you've read any of my pieces, you know that I can't emphasize enough that nobody is the same. I literally preach the special snowflake sermon every single week. So to assume all women and men are the same is, in my eyes, equally as damaging as assuming all black people or all white people are the same.
More than placing people into neat boxes, gender roles teach people how to live their lives. That's where it gets dangerous. Gender roles can lead to mental health issues as people try to force their square peg into a triangular hole. An example is from Empire, where the character Andre Lyon has bipolar disorder, but doesn't take medication because his father insists that he's a man and should, "toughen up."
(I'm looking at you, guys who wouldn't see Beauty and the Beast with your SO because somehow it makes you gay)
Gender roles stem from patriarchal society saying that men should be the authoritative head of their families, the breadwinners, and the disciplinarians, while women are the caretakers.
Gender roles tell little boys not to cry because... only women can experience emotions?
Gender roles encourage women not to pursue STEM fields because.... men are inherently smarter?
These roles aren't truly grounded in physical differences— women can be bread winners, men can be sensitive, and everyone can wear pink.
I should note that I am a Christian, and that does have a few prescribed gender roles— but they aren't oppressive archetypes.
Although I'm not going to lie, Peter doesn't exactly seem like a champion for women's rights.
1 Peter 3:7
"In the same way, you husbands should live with your wives in an understanding way, since they are weaker than you."
Thanks Peter. Not.
On a real note, if someone can reason that one out with me, I'd really appreciate it. Cause I don't really know how to feel about it right now. Before that he's all "women your inner beauty is important" which is like so 3rd wave feminist of him, but then he kinda discredits it by then calling women weaker than men. Also— Peter, there's a lot more weak men in the bible than weak women. We 'gon have to have a chat when I get to heaven. Anyways.
What this has to do with kids?
It all has to do with socialization.
Socialization is the verbal and nonverbal ways we teach our children how to act and behave everyday. We socialize girls to take dance or learn to cook, we socialize boys to play sports. It starts as early as birth when the baby is wrapped in a pink or blue blanket. That blue blanket becomes a blue bedroom, a G.I. Joe action figure, a football tryout, and everything that follows from there.
It gets dangerous when people discourage children from pursuing things they're passionate about because, "that's not what little boys/girls do."
Parents: Let your children be passionate. Even if it doesn't follow gender roles. Don't be Ross when he wouldn't let Ben play with the Barbie doll. Actually, just don't be Ross, ever. But let your daughters play sports, your boys paint pictures, because these aren't gendered activities. They're just activities.