A BBC story video prompted me to deeply analyse this question- ‘Are we sure we don’t gender stereotypes the upbringing of our children?’ The video titled ‘ Gender stereotypes toys: an experiment, showed an experiment where toddler boys and girls were dressed up as opposite genders and their care takers were hidden of their identities. The responses of care takers were seen as being biased with those handling boys pushing them towards robotics and puzzle related toys and those handling girls gave them dolls and more soft toys. When the care takers were informed with the real identities of children, they were surprised at their own responses and to some extent even accepted that subconsciously they do have biases in their minds.
The fabric of our society in woven in such a manner that men and women are interdependent on each other, with men being portrayed as the bread winner of family and the women fulfilling the role of being nurturer at home. This type of set up of our society, to some extent, has been supported by the biological roles bestowed upon by nature as well. In prehistoric times as well, the woman being the one giving birth to child, needed to be at home for their care, while then men chose to go out to arrange food for family. As our society progressed, the roles of men and women were demarcated clearly, with men working outside home and women being assigned homely duties. The attributes of being men were portrayed as being strong, competitive, logical, not-so-emotional and females being more of fragile, emotional and not-so-competitive.
Come to 21st century, we no longer have these roles strictly demarcated. Though, in my view, it is completely fine if a couple demarcates their duties at personal level. The boundaries sepcifying roles of genders have diluted due to education and opportunities, but have we been fully successful in bursting this ‘gender bias’ bubble. Still, we role- model daddies being stronger then mommies. Still we say boys don’t cry. Still we say that girls should learn cooking. Still we say boys are better suited than girls being engineers or astronauts. Still we don’t raise an eye brow if we see a boy hanging around at midnight but would make a hullabaloo if we say a girl out at the same time. Still we say it’s okayish for boys to be angry and violent but girls need to be soft all the times. And finally, still we sterotype those men in our society who are ready to walk hand in hand with females, not a one step and not even one step behind, but partners and true associates in everything they do!
Why can’t we tell our children that it’s okay even if daddies chose to stay at home, or if mommy is at home to take care of them, it is not because she can’t work outside but because of the mutual agreement between mommy and daddy. Don’t shy away as a parent if your young boy wants to play with kitchen set or if your young girls refuses to play with dolls and wants a car instead. Don’t shy away if your boy wants to be poet, writer or an artist and your girls wants to be a physicist or mathematician.
Why don’t we let our young boys and girls choose a path for themselves, and stop indoctrination of age-old gender roles!