Today I watched the wonderful Vick Psarias-Broadbent from Honest Mum talking to Phil and Holly on This Morning about toxic masculinity and why it’s ok for boys to cry. Little did I know that shortly after watching this, I would be facing a similar conversation of my own with my three-year-old boy.
Female Role Models
My son absolutely idolises his big sister, who at six-years-old is a force to be reckoned with. Don’t get me wrong, they fight the bit out but when it comes down to it, she is his hero.
So when she started getting ready to go to her Irish dancing class this evening, he sidled up to me and said he wanted to go to but couldn’t. When I asked him why he said: “Only girls do dancing.”
“You have no penis”
After prodding him a little further, it transpires that he had told his nursery friends that he wanted to dance and they told him he “had no penis”. I was more than a little taken aback given that these children are only 3 and 4 years old.
We talked about it and I explained that his daddy had done Irish dancing as a child and that there was no such thing as “only girls” or “only boys” activities and that he could do whatever he liked.
Still feeling apprehensive, off we went to the dance class and he shyly held his sister’s hand the whole way throughout. After the class, he told me that he really liked it but he didn’t know if he wanted to go back because it was mostly girls in the class. I explained that it was ok that there weren’t more boys as long as he enjoyed himself. Tomorrow we’re sitting down to watch Billy Elliot (and hope he doesn’t pick up on the swear words!) in a bid to show him that he can do whatever he likes regardless of his gender.
Personally, I’m feeling more than a little frustrated to have to even entertain this conversation at three-years-old. We try to make sure that our children have a balanced view of gender stereotypes but it’s so bloody difficult when, in every book and TV show, every police officer, firefighter or doctor is male and every dancer, hairdresser or nurse is female.
Even the choice of children’s clothing gets my back up. This arbitrary “pink is for girls” and “blue is for boys” nonsense is perpetuating these barriers placed in front of our children based on their genitals.
Now don’t get me wrong, my boy LOVES dinosaurs and he’s a rough and ready little boy by nature but that’s just who he is. He also hates football, likes the colour pink and loves nail polish. My daughter loves football, and dresses and make up and fart jokes. Why do they need to change themselves to fit into this gender stereotyping world we’ve built around them?
Can you imagine the greatness our kids could achieve if gender stereotyping didn’t happen? If our girls felt more comfortable playing sports or digging for bugs and our boys were allowed to dance without fear of mocking?
Is it just me that gets stressed about this stuff? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.