15 December 2011

Gender Stereotypes and Children

When we were checking out our books at the library this morning, a kind librarian came up and asked if the children wanted stickers. Of course, they answered in the affirmative. Shen then proceeded to give Charlotte a pink princess sticker, and gave Kieran a choice between monsters (left-over from Hallowe'en) or Christmas stickers. I had the children thank her, and that was that.

But I was a tad irritated at the assumption about what my children would like purely because of their genders. Before I continue, I am not saying that gender distinctions are nonexistent or completely arbitrary, but there's also a lot of room for individual taste.

Perhaps I am sensitive to this because I've never been very fond of pink or dolls. Kieran and Charlotte both happily play with dolls and trains, though Charlotte is fonder of dolls than Kieran. Kieran insisted on a pink cake with pink candles for his birthday, and asked for a pink truck on a sweater. Of course, it wasn't that long ago that pink was considered to be a masculine colour.

So, yes, boys and girls are different and have different interests and ways of playing, but it isn't always along stereotypical gender lines, and I think this is important to remember.


  1. Yes! This has happened to us TWICE in the past few weeks - both times with stickers, too. Once at the doctor's office. We get to look at the stickers and he can choose one. My 3 y.o. son picked Fiona from Shrek. She suggested a "boy" sticker and I told her that he's a boy and he chose that sticker, so it must be a "boy" sticker! (This is the same person who told him his shot wouldn't hurt - I corrected her before he received it! Geez!)

    The next time was a kindly older cashier at the craft store. she was handing out sticker sheets to children and had two kinds: flowers and the alphabet. She gave him the alphabet ones, but he insisted on the flowers. He loves gardening with me and can name many of the wildflowers native to our area - why wouldn't he prefer those. She looked at me with this questioning face, as if to see if I'd be embarrassed or something. Double Geez!

    My little guy is into mostly "guy" things - cars, trains, etc. In fact, he's a HUGE monster truck fan (didn't get it from me or my hubby!) We didn't push him toward his interest bu only offering "boy" toys. He chooses his interests and we help him learn more. So, my little boy is proudly wearing a Princess Fiona sticker or flowers on his jacket... he's happy, so I am, too!

  2. Ugh...people. Just ugh. LOL

    Hope you could have a laugh later.