Do you ever wonder whether buying your little girl pink things and dolls and your boy trucks and outfitting him in blue would do him harm? Are you concerned that gender roles we assign kids may impact how they view themselves, their self esteem or how they cope? If so, you may want to pick up sociology professor Dr. Emily Kane’s book, “The Gender Trap: Parents and the Pitfalls of Raising Boys and Girls”.
Southern California Public Radio recently had an interview with Dr. Kane and here are a few excerpts that caught my attention:
What’s wrong with pink for girls and blue for boys?
“I think in some ways it seems like just a trivial, harmless thing, but in fact it ends up being the first step in a process that really ends up constraining kids and constraining all of us in the long run.
How can these gendered colors constrain our kids?
Let me start with the idea that what animated my interest in doing this project was an interest in the gender inequalities that persist in the adult world that I think a lot of us are familiar with. The wage gap that tends to return greater earnings to men than women, the occupational segregation that makes it difficult to pursue a wide range of career options, and a whole lot of other intersecting inequalities. I was interested in trying to think about the ways those trace back in some ways to really minor-seeming things earlier in life.”
What are some main gender traps that parents fall into?
“One of the traps I focus on in the book is assuming all these gendered outcomes in childhood, the different attributes we notice for boys and girls are fixed in nature. If you look at them that way, its pretty likely that you’re not going to feel even possibly like you could resist them nor maybe even like you should. But I think another trap is some of the unconscious actions that research has documented but most parents probably don’t know about. Some of the ways that we are more soft and quiet in talking with girls than with boys, some of the ways we’re inclined to give boys a greater range of motion..
What would you say is a good gender-neutral baby shower gift?
“I always try to bring things that are neutral colors. I don’t judge other people’s desire to use pink and blue I would just love to see us all shake it up more often so that when pink and blue come along, that’s fine, because its just part of a wide range of possibilities for what one might bring. So I always when it comes to babies try to bring neutral colors and toys and objects I think would be interesting to any small human being.
You can read the entire interview HERE and learn where you can pick up the book which I believe teaches how to steer away from too many gender limiting behavior.
Some people believe gender roles are needed and important, and there are others that feel too neutral identity confuses children and peers. What are your thoughts on the issue?