Ever wonder if boys and girls get parented differently? Answer to this is a most definite yes, but the problem is you may not realize the horrible effects of parenting based on gender. You may not realize it yet, but you will soon. In this essay, I will explain how parenting based on gender is dangerous and harmful because it leads to inequalities, sexist stereotypes, and bigoted views of boy and girl.
In an article I read called “Teaching Men To Be Emotionally Honest”, by Andrew Reiner, explains a scenario in which a father is telling his little boy who is getting vaccinated to “don’t cry!” and “say you’re a man”. This right here is a prime example of gender stereotypes that have carried on for thousands of years. Why is it that the boy is being told to “say you’re a man”? The little boy is being told this because throughout history it has always been the man that is big and strong. In Reiner’s article he cites Dr. Way, In which Reiner says, “Dr. Way concludes that many boys, especially early and middle adolescents, develop deep, meaningful friendships, easily rivaling girls in their emotional honesty and intimacy”. Reiner explains that young boys are actually more emotional than young girls. Somewhere along the way boys minds are altered to hold in their emotions and to not show them. We shouldn’t be limiting the emotions of men because it serves no purpose other than keeping a stereotype alive that is sexist. We can make this change, but the issue needs to be made more clear through to our society!
The stereotype that men should be the strong laborers and females are to be the caretakers is one that has lived on for ages. Throughout history, females were forced to stay be home mothers and were controlled by men. It wasn’t even until 1920 when women given the right to vote! Whatever you may think about females let me tell you, there are plenty of strong and brave women throughout the world. Granted majority of men are genetically stronger than females, but that doesn’t mean every single one is. I have met plenty of women that stand their ground and are the utmost confidence, and I may hate to say this because I am a man, but those females are terrifying. Those females are made of stone and they could eat you up and spit you out. I remember have drill instructors come to my old high school and would simulate what it is like at boot camp for the Air Force. That day was quite interesting because that was the day I realized strong women (not just physically) scare the daylights out of me more than men. Those females drill instructors are no joke! After critically thinking, “why do the female drill instructors intimidate me more than the men?”, I began to realize that because females are raised to be more soft and emotional, seeing females opposite of that and screaming in my face is terrifying. Point here though is, societies stereotypes and men and women being raised differently has shaped my views that women aren’t normally supposed to be in a form of power.
You see men cry often? Likely not right? Well, that is because us guys are told: “real men don’t cry”. My father told me this until around middle school, where crying was something I practically couldn’t do anymore because I didn’t want to be called a little girl. Looking back at this I think “What is wrong with being a little girl if that’s who I am?”. Obviously, I am not a little girl nor do I act like one, but what about all the other boys that literally do want to be a little girl? Well, the answer to that is they get bullied. A friend of mine back in middle school named Khalid Hudson had to switch school districts because he was bullied day in and day out. He was bullied because he was gay, feminine, and felt more like a girl than a man. Khalid had to switch districts because of who he was! He always told me he was a girl in a guy’s body. This breaks my heart because it is 2019 and people still deal with these problems. I am so happy Khalid didn’t kill himself. Looking back at it all I’m surprised he didn’t and I am positive he thought about it. Reiner states in his article, “As men continue to fall behind women in college, while outpacing them four to one in the suicide rate…”, and I know that these suicide rates are the way they are because of situations just like Khalid’s. There has been a change, but not enough.
I may not be so credible when talking about females because I’m not one, but I see the problems they face at hand as well. I went to Target the other day and pass by the babies section and notice some odd differences. I noticed that the baby clothes for the boys had hammers, dump trucks, and one even had a barbell. Then I see the girls baby clothes which are covered in shy/reserved princesses and one that said “looking for my prince”. Why is it that in our society we reinforce the idea of brute strength in boys and shy reservation in girls? I refuse to believe that every little boy needs to be playing with fake tools, cars, footballs, and whatever else seems like the norm for boy toys and the same argument for the girls! With society and parenting according to gender, these kids don’t choose their identity, It’s predetermined subconsciously. When I was a kid and would get hurt on the playground I was told myself to “be a man” and “suck it up”, but when a girl hurt herself she would be babied and caressed until she felt better. Is this not sexist much? A huge problem is not all kids are able to grow up and find themselves out and most never will. This is exactly why parenting based on gender is a terrible idea! We need to let kids grow up and decide who they want to be on their own! No biases!
As I have explained, there are many hidden dangers of parenting based on gender, but what are some solutions? The most important step to take to solve sexist parenting is making the issue known more widespread. Until I had read multiple articles did I realize how much a problem this might be. I had never once considered it and many probably haven’t as well either. Getting the issue known through social media and onto the streets can prove beneficial and help parents think twice when raising their kid. Another solution would be to rid the pink and blue gender notion and make it clear that toys have no gender. The gender divide between colors and toys have been proven to create stereotypes in which boys playing with “girl” toys and girls playing with “boy” toys will likely be bullied. Sadly it is the same thing when it comes to clothes. The last solution I can think of is to let kids be able to express themselves and have them feel safe and comfortable while doing so. If parents encourage their kids to express themselves for who they are and with the positive reinforcement kids will feel less reluctant to fake their identity. The ultimate goal would be to not erase gender but to remove the negative stigma on certain stereotypes and gender labels. Gender should be accounted for but should be seen more or less as irrelevant so opportunities aren’t restricted relative to gender.
I had stumbled upon an article involving gender identity and development its development in children called, “Gender Identity Development in Children”, by Jason Rafferty. Rafferty goes on to explain that “gender identity” is much more than just male and female. According to Rafferty, gender identity is “…an internal sense people have of who they are that comes from an interaction of biological traits, developmental influences, and environmental conditions.”. Giving the kids the freedom to their identity according to Rafferty allows for them to “choose whether they identify as male, female, both, or neither”. Children are usually quick to discover their gender identity as well. Rafferty states that “By age four: Most children have a stable sense of their gender identity.”. This means that the toys they play with and the clothes they wear could have already chosen their identity for them by just 4 years old. Rafferty has advice for parents to help them allow their kids to have the opportunity to venture in finding their own gender identity. According to Rafferty parents should get children’s books that are “non-stereotypical” and have “diverse gender roles”, a “wide range of toys” which don’t conform to gender and make sure your child feels comfortable and included in whatever their preferences are without being bullied.
Concluding Paragraph: I believe if we break these stereotypes and norms society has had for hundreds and hundreds of year, kids can be who they want and live according to their own identity. Men don’t have to act big and strong and woman don’t have to act all “girly” if they don’t, but men and women will continue to hide who they truly are until these awful stereotypes and norms are gone. This is why parents continuing to parent boys and girls differently allow for the inequalities and bigoted ideologies to live and ultimately hurt the youth.