9 03 2014

Recently, I came upon an article called “10 Best Things About Having All Boys” which instantly drew my attention and curiosity since I’m a mother of a 11 month old baby boy.  Perhaps I was optimistic or naïve, but I thought I would be able to discover something profound from this article.  Although there is some degree of satire in the writing, I was still left with an unsettling feeling after reading it due to the large amount of generalizations.

I won’t hit on all the points in this article, but I wanted to touch upon where the author starts with prefacing the fact that not all girls want to be princesses nor do all boys like trucks, but regardless still launches in some serious gender typing statements.  Apparently, “boy toys” are cooler, because there are real life versions of them and girls live in la-la land with their unicorns and princesses.  It astounds me that we continue to perpetuate this typecasting and gender divide among toys.  I recall my childhood of happily playing with Legos, train sets, and Hot Wheels, because I naturally gravitated towards them.   There were no overly pink and frilly Lego sets to draw me in.  The fact was a lot of kids my age back then loved Legos.  I also enjoyed the act of building and constructing and I remember staring in awe at the “K’NEX” commercials, because it was my dream toy.  On the other hand, there were occasional moments where I have also used my imagination to play out a fantasy character as well.  I really don’t see a reason to draw a distinct line between tangible and fictional play in terms of gender.  As a child, I had no issue embracing both.  Furthermore, if my son picked up a doll to play with, I wouldn’t bat an eye.  I believe our children should play with all toys or whatever interests them rather than creating gender specific toys and having them conform to them.

The author continues to generalize again that it is easier to get boys out of the house compared to girls, because apparently girls need to be done up before they get out of the door.  The author says, “No hair styling, no tights, and no braids or barrettes.”  While I see no issue with these types of accessories, I also didn’t realize there was a dress code for young girls.  From my own experience, my parents never braided or styled my hair before we left the house.  It seems interesting when these clothing nuances are really a factor of the parents’ choice.  I’m sure the girls just like the boys would rather waste no time getting out to the swings and park rather than have their parents spend excessive time on their hair.  In all honesty, boys and girls at such a young age don’t really give much thought to their apparel.

I was also a bit shocked that the author seems to acknowledge the challenges that women face in the industry, thus is uncertain of whether to encourage her theoretical daughter to pursue her career aspiration.  However, she has no issue wholeheartedly supporting her son.  How outrageous is this?  Instead of being part of a solution, she decides to be part of the problem. These are the type of parents who are inhibiting our future women leaders and enabling the gender barriers in the workplace and it is a scary thing.  However, this article was found on a blog called Scary Mommy.  Hmmm, it seems to be an apt description.

Albeit it may have intended to be a humorous article, it still proves as another example of gender stereotypes still being perpetuated.  However, it does reinforce something for myself and my son.  And that there is one best thing about having a boy, which is the opportunity to ensure he is a part of a future generation who will help pave a flatter path rather than an uphill climb for women in the workforce.  And to my theoretical daughter who wants to be an engineer.  I say go for it.

– Anita Heredia

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