The Great Pink & Blue Debate :: Gender Stereotypes

My three-year-old daughter and I were playing the other day when I noticed she had started to sort her toys. Some of them went into a bucket, and others were placed into a separate pile. I could tell there was method to her madness {as there always is}, so I interjected and started asking a few questions.

“Why do some of the toys go in the bucket?”

“Those are girl toys. See Mommy, the pink ring is for girls, so it goes in the bucket.”

After picking my jaw up off the ground, I matter-of-factly told her that boys can play with the pink jewelry and dolls if they wanted, just like she plays with Spider-Man toys sometimes.

“No Mommy, Spider-Man toys are for boys and pink is for girls.”

WHATTTT? Hold on, is this coming from the same little girl who insisted I wash her Spider-Man cup the other day so she could have it right this instant. Where in the world was this ideology coming from? We have never stuck to typical gender stereotypes when it comes to toys. Why now? 

Growing up, my very best friend in the whole world was my neighbor Tommy. We were basically the same age and inseparable. In addition to starting fires in the garage {oops} and tormenting our sisters together, I played cars in the dirt with him, and he played with my dolls. It never occurred to either one of us that there were “girl toys” and “boy toys.” I would like to think that I have tried my best to instill the same sense of open mindedness in my daughter, but somewhere along the way, I seem to have hit a wall in this great pink and blue debate.

It’s hard to raise an open minded, tolerant, and accepting daughter in a world where society is telling her anything pink or purple is for girls, and anything blue is for boys.

Honestly, the whole interaction completely caught me off guard. Up until a few weeks ago, she loved super heroes, specifically Spider-Man. She would form her fingers to pretend she was throwing webs like him, and she would love to watch anything on TV with superheroes. Somewhere along the way, her mind has been clouded with the idea that these things are not for her. Her thought process has been tainted in a shift small enough for only me to notice, but I can see where this path leads. I encourage my daughter to be who she wants to be, and I can appreciate the fact that she does gravitate towards anything pink and sparkly, but I cannot allow her to look at other toys that she may otherwise be interested in and immediately decide she isn’t allowed to play with them. I know the world will never be completely gender neutral, and I’m really not even asking for that. But I am at a loss for words as to why there are still people out there raising their children to stick so closely to gender stereotypes. My three-year-old’s new mentality is most definitely not coming from home, so it must {and I hate to point fingers} be coming from the community in which we live.

As a result, I am begging other parents to take a step back and think about how powerful your passive “that’s for girls” or “only boys can play with that” comments are.

Do you really want to raise a child that is blind to the half of the opportunities presented to them? Do you want your son or daughter to have blinders on to half of what is presented to them?

Me either. Let’s change the conversation about gender specific toys and allow it to open much, much bigger doors later in life.

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Jill is a former elementary school teacher, University of Arizona graduate {Bear Down!}, and mom to Talya {September 2012}, but not necessarily in that order. She has always had a passion for writing and really took it to the next level after her daughter was born. It didn't take long for her to realize it was just the outlet she needed. As a first-time-mom, she is constantly searching for balance in her life, whether it's work and family, marriage and kids, or a sense of normalcy and complete craziness. She has, for the most part, managed to maintain her sanity {depending on who you ask}. Jill's writing aims to portray an honest viewpoint on parenting. Sometimes it's what nobody else is willing to say that inspires Jill to speak up on certain topics! She is a regular contributor to sites such as The Huffington Post, LeanIn.org, and localhoustonmagazine.com. She and her husband Sam reside in the Bellaire area with their daughter, Talya.

1 COMMENT

  1. I have been actively trying to stay away from Pink since my little girl was born, but still, ended with so much pink stuff given to her and us. I did most of her cloths and toys shopping from boys sections – avoiding pinks and princess stuff.. Still, the first color she recognized (learnt from Day Care, I guess) was PINK!! 🙁

    She is just two, so it is easy for us to make decisions on what would she ware and what color toys she would get – but I am worried about future. I don’t want her to be madly in love with pink and purple and princess stuff. I want her to love cars & trains as much as boys would. Let me know if you have any specific pointers which can help me in that direction.

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