There has been huge inequality between men and women for many years and I think it is important to address this and somehow bring this inequality into balance. As parents it is interesting to take a look at how we might be raising our children a certain way depending on their gender. If, for example, we are visiting the toy shop and emerging with pink, fluffy, glittery bling kind of items for our girls and rugged, dark blue items for our boys then is it possible that as parents we are contributing to this gender divide? I’m not sure, but what I do know is this – when I hear my children say “I can’t do this because I’m a boy” or “I can’t do that, I’m a girl!” Then there is a limitation there and I certainly don’t want my children to use their gender to stop them from doing something.
Obviously there are certain circumstances, namely biological, when gender restrictions are inevitable. “I can’t have a baby mummy, I’m a boy!’ makes sense, right? Yes – biologically boys can’t do certain things like giving birth. Yet, ask any father who has ever been really close to their wife when giving birth what the birthing experience was like for them. They won’t have felt the labour pangs, but they will surely tell you that the birthing experience was just as huge and significant for them as it was for the mother.
Perhaps instead of expecting equality between the sexes, which I think is as likely to come about as equality between people, we should instead assert that people are simply different. I am far more comfortable with this as a concept. We are different for example – we’ve come to live on a small island in Scotland; our family are also different because we have chosen to home-school right now. Some girls will indeed like to wear pink, but the fact that having girls wear pink excludes boys from wearing it is also disappointing. It hasn’t always been this way. I just read in The Week Magazine that, at the turn of century, it was the other way around and boys were encouraged to wear pink because it was a strong colour and girls wore blue because it was more dainty, they had a completely different interpretation of those colours.
So with all this in mind, are gender specific toys limiting for our children? This is a big campaign at the minute in parenting circles. Why aren’t girls going into science? Because all of those toys are in the boys section in the toy shop and not the girls! As a result, an abolition of gender specific sections is being called for. While I absolutely do agree with this and am 100% behind it I do still find it fascinating, this idea that everything has to be neutral. I tend to think that if something does come up that’s for women only, then why not? If it’s for men only, why not? I guess the bottom line is that I want freedom for my children, I want them to know that the whole world is available to them regardless of their sex. It is frightening to me that my daughter will avoid things because she feels that she can’t do them because she is a girl. It’s frightening that my boy will ignore certain feelings or emotions because he is a boy and he feels that they’re not appropriate for his gender. These ideas are culturally imposed and not the result of free choice. I want my children to be open and free in who they are as human beings and that is how I want to raise them, as joyful children, as a joyful parent.