We dress girls in pink and boys in blue. When girls show an interest in dolls we buy them prams and things with fake long hair to style. A boy gets trains, cars and Lego to build things. What we never stop to ask ourselves is this; does every boy like the same things? Does every girl? When she is 3 and her favourite colour is pink are we vindicated?, or, just failing to see that if pink was all she was ever surrounded by then of course it would be her favourite colour?
This has long been a bugbear of mine. Before I go any further some of you will throw out that easy line that gets trotted out by parents; do you have children? No I don’t have children but you don’t have to have children to feel something that may be in the best interests of another person. Otherwise we would never form any relationships in the first place. As I am continually reminded there is no manual for having kids, so just accept that we are all winging it.
Don’t also assume that because I am a man that I think women have gotten off lightly. I don’t. They are still disrespected in many workplaces that are not considered for them. The number of female board directors is pitiful. They are pushed into childcare and beauty courses because those are “appropriate” things for them to do. There is a huge expectation by some parents on their daughters to give them grandchild and this can lead to many women sacrificing a career (there is of course an argument there for helping women back into work that have children). They are often dismissed as “emotional” when they have genuine concerns about problems in their lives.
As a comic book fan I see a lot of irregularity in that world. Women are often drawn (by men) with large breasts. If they are not doing anything particularly sexy they are still given them. There was a huge fuss two years ago over a drawing of Catwoman in both a physically impossible pose and being drawn very sexually. Have we never stopped to wonder why Superman is dressed head to toe with just his head, hands visible when Wonder Woman has her chest, arms and legs out?
I’ve sat in my place of work and heard mothers tell their little boys that of course they behaved this way or that way because they are “a man”. Am I the only person who can see how harmful that is? On the one hand the child will associate perceived negative traits with being a man (not healthy) and on the other he will blame perhaps some of his own genuine character flaws on just “being a man” and never seek help. Statistics show that men are far less likely to seek help and enter therapy than women. I can’t help but feel a big part of that comes from the assumption that men should not speak about feelings.
Why do we never stop and think to ourselves; “what are we doing”? We still frown upon promiscuous girls in a way that we don’t for boys. In the media a woman who sleeps around is labelled badly but a man gets much more favourable words used for him. I would take “love rat” over many of the names attributed to women in those situations. Whenever a woman sells her story with a footballer she is immediately derided. A man chats about it in his book and nobody says a word. It is repeatedly the case that the women in these affairs often come out worse off than the men even if she was single and the man was married.