Early adolescent girls - gender roles

Gender roles.  - A young girl playing with a toy truck.
@Swtrose (3399)
Canada
June 3, 2007 10:05pm CST
I spoke about this in November 04, 2005 on my blog. The topic of gender roles came up at my writing community. A friend and I started to discuss this and how it is because of these gender roles that most people expect certain behaviors from boys, than from girls. I never realized as a parent that I was putting my daughter in a gender role when I told her that she shouldn’t get her pretty dress dirty. I failed my daughter in the fact that I influenced her into the role that women must always look good. I avoided it with my son, as It's a very strong pet peeve of mine when people make certain arguments to defend the behavior of boys because "boys will be boys." I didn’t want my son to be in that gender role. I allowed him to play with dolls and hang with the girls and told him it was ok to cry. I encouraged him to sign up for drama and told him their was nothing wrong with reading 24/7 instead of playing sports. Over the past two years I have tried to gear my daughter away from the gender role, now that I have seen the effect that it has had. But now that I look back, I realize as a parent, I’m partly to blame. What are your thoughts? Do you believe that little girls must look, dress and behave a certain way? Are you more concerned with their appearance than just allowing them to be children?
6 people like this
7 responses
• United States
4 Jun 07
Wow, SwtRose I really agree with you this time! I think its important that kids (and adults) shouldn't be treated a certain way because of gender. Personally, I can't stand when someone assumes something about me because I'm a girl. I've never really cared about gender, and the ideas of 'girl power' and genders sticking together make me quite annoyed... For a while when I was in high school I was so frustrated with the assumptions people make that I rejected anything feminine and wore boy's clothes all the time. Lately I've become more comfortable with just not worrying about what people think at all. I think all parents should be the same way. If they have a girl who likes karate or a boy who wants to collect dolls then the children should be allowed to pursue these interests regardless of their gender. I'm kind of defensive about this because the father of my best friends (who are brothers) is very strict about his sons not doing or wearing anything that could be considered feminine because he doesn't want his sons to seem 'gay'. I always get very aggravated when I hear about the things he forbids them from doing because I know he is keeping them from dressing the way they want or following their interests. Even though my parents drive me insane in a lot of ways, at least my brother and I have never been told we couldn't do certain things because of our gender. We grew up playing with each other's toys and wearing what we liked no matter which gender it was created for.
@Swtrose (3399)
• Canada
4 Jun 07
I know someone who did not want their son to take parenting in school and called it a girl's course. Now their son may be a daddy. I guess he should have taken parenting.
3 people like this
• Canada
4 Jun 07
It bothers me too when people don't want their sons to be involved in something that's considered feminine. It's just like saying that there is something wrong with being feminine, or that it's wrong to be like a girl. This mindset is so ingrained in our society. Look at some of the expressions people use: "You run/hit/throw like a girl." (Usually said to describe a poor performance.) "Don't be a sissy." (Meaning, don't be weak or a baby. Sissy is a girl's name.) Even when we add "ette" to describe the female of something we are putting it down, as "ette" translates to "diminutive". So the language used in our society is still very misogynist. Gender roles are really hard to avoid, and I think it's impossible for girls and boys to not be influenced by them. We need to be role models for them and SHOW them that we can be whoever we want, regardless of gender stereotypes. Most people would call this "politically correct" but I just call it simply having the liberty to be your own person without having to conform to rigid stereotypes about what it means to be a boy or girl.
• Switzerland
4 Jun 07
It is an interesting topic that you have posted. It is also dependent on the society in which you live. In some, it might be possible to have the degree of freedom to pursue what you want and in others, it might not be there. So, it is better to teach your kids, a balance of all and then let them pursue what they are interested mostly.
@loved1 (5336)
• United States
4 Jun 07
I really just enourage my children to be themselves and not let others tell them how to be. My daughters know that there are differences between themselves and boys, but really, how much of that matters? My biggest problem is my daycare parents who teach their boys that they should be engaged in violent play all the time. I have a 3 year old who pretends to shoot, kill, kick, etc the toys he is playing with all day long. When his brother shows up after school I spend all my time telling them to quit wrestling. I know many people believe "boys will be boys" but why does that have to mean boys will be rough and hurt each other? When is it ever appropriate to teach your child that hurting, hitting, shooting and killing is appropriate?
3 people like this
• Canada
4 Jun 07
That drives me crazy as well! Violence is violence, no matter who is doing it. Why is it ok for boys to be violent? How is this acceptable behavior? And to think a daycare condones this is pretty disgusting. Is it no surprise so many boys grow up to be violent and aggressive men? Sheeeesh.
2 people like this
@tinamwhite (3255)
• United States
4 Jun 07
I believe that a child should be taught that emotions are supposed to shared....that caring and being able to control those impulses that crossed the other person's rights as well.... I believe that children whould be taught that there are times when appearance is important...just like there is a time to work and a time to play...life must have a balance between the things that must be done and the things that a person wants to do.... Every child should, in my opinion, be allowed to become the person that they are...whom ever that person is....I think that a parent's job is to teach right vs wrong;respect vs disrespect;love vs hate;anger vs rage; and coping skills.... I do not believe in gender roles by the typical standards and I think that my children have benefitted from that attitude...
• Canada
4 Jun 07
That is a most excellent post! Very well said, and I couldn't agree more. It's all about balance, appreciating both the male and female that is inside everyone.
2 people like this
@KrisNY (7591)
• United States
5 Jun 07
I have never followed the gender roles rules! I encouraged my daughter to get dirty- When I would pick her up from daycare- I would say- boy you are filthy! looks like you had a fun fun day- One of her favorite activities at the age of 10- is to go 4-wheeling through mud holes- Sure she still dresses up- wear pretty nail polish and jewelry and tries to get away with makeup--- She doesn't fit into the category of girly girl or tom boy-- Just a girl! She plays lots of sports and sometimes says to me- Mom it isn't a beauty contest- I don't care if my hair is sticking up- LOL on the way to softball practice- I've raised a great girl!
@magica (3710)
• Bulgaria
5 Jun 07
Well...most mothers treat their little daughters as alive Barbie dolls and dress them as dolls. But in fact sometimes it happens that this not fits with the preferences of the child. For example my mother tried to dress me as a charming little lady, but i have allways struggled with her. I just feel better in more simple clothes and the little boys are much more privileged in it. Their clothes are simple and comfortable for games.
@eden32 (3976)
• United States
4 Jun 07
Interesting observation with the don't get dirty message. I've never considered that before and I think I am pretty aware of letting my children play outside of traditional gender roles. I think perhaps you should consider how often you would say something like that. I know I have made that comment to both my sons & my daughter; but they're not often dressed up. If we were going to a wedding, a christening, or to have family pictures taken, I'm sure I've said that to them. But day to day they were "kid clothes" and can get as dirty as they like.