I need to start by saying that I believe men and women are equals.  I think there is still a lot of sexism in the world and that makes me sad, and mad.  Kids should be allowed to play with whatever toys they want.   A toy is a toy, irrespective of gender.  Slogans printed on clothes shouldn’t reduce little girls to the way they look, and nobody should ever be excluded from something because of their gender.  I do however believe that the gender neutral debate is going too far.

When I read that that pressure is being put on Mothercare to change it’s name, I have to admit I rolled my eyes.  Isn’t that taking things too far?  Mothercare, the place that sells maternity clothes, nursing bras, breast pads, nipple cream, maternity pads and breast pumps. Sorry guys, we may be equal, but there are some biological differences that suggest you will not be needing any of the above products.

John Lewis have now removed ‘girls’ or ‘boys’ from their clothes labels, but I don’t understand why there is a problem with identifying ourselves as a girl or a boy?  Are we saying that there should no longer be men and women departments? I personally quite like some girly time and girly things.  Does that mean I am not a feminist?  Does that mean I am not equal to men, or am I excluding men?  

I have had comments on my blog before along the lines of “Dad’s too” and “Why aren’t you including dad’s”.  Quite simply I can’t write about being a Dad from a Dad’s point of view because I lack the necessary dangly bits.  I write from a woman perspective, because you know, I am one.  

On the one hand we are saying to girls, be strong independent women, you can do anything, then the next we are telling them not to identify as any gender?  It makes no sense to me.  I don’t want to be gender neutral.  I am woman, hear me roar!

My eldest son is seven.  When we were waiting in the school playground the other day he ran screaming from one of his friends shouting,

“Ahhh get it away from me.  It’s pink! I hate pink! I’m not a girl!”

Cue the feeling of shame.  I’m not doing my job properly.  He’s supposed to like all colours and not associate them with a gender.  I wanted to shout loudly that my other son, who is three, has a doll and a pushchair at home.

A friend confided in me the other day that she feels guilty because her daughter is all about the pink, fluffy and glittery.  No matter how much she tries to steer her away from it, that’s what she loves.

 

Gender Neutral

 

I want my boys to grow up respecting people, irrelevant of their gender.  But if they are drawn to cars and action figures, then so be it.  I’ve recently given away two bin bags full of cuddly toys because they are never played with.  Some still had tags on.  We’ve only seen Frozen once because the boys would much rather watch Cars.  And I loved Frozen so believe me I have tried to get them to watch it again.  If I burst into a rendition of ‘Let it go’ my kids run from the room screaming.  Although that may say more about my singing than them not liking princesses.

However my Seven year old is a huge fan of One Direction.  You know the band that screaming girls adore.  He has all of their CD’s. Knows all of the words to their songs, and wants his hair like Harry Styles. People have told him he shouldn’t like them (because they are a boy band, for girls).  I’ve told him he can like who he wants.  But do you know why he likes them?  Because in his words, they are “all boys”, and to him that makes them cool, because you know, girls are smelly.

But let me repeat again, he is seven!  The most pressing issues in his world are when he is next being fed, and how many more days until the Lego Ninjago movie is released.  All too soon girls are going to be interesting and worthy of his attention, and no longer smelly.

There are things that I will not accept when it comes to gender stereotypes.  Do not tell my Son he “screams like a girl,” or that “big boys don’t cry.”  I tell them daily that girls and boys are equal.  But I also tell them that it is ok to like different things.  

And that is the crux of the issue for me.  Whilst men and women should be equal, we are fundamentally different.  And I love that.

 

Gender Neutral

 

The differences between us ignite great passion, brilliant movies, love songs, and comedy. Maybe there are too many sweeping generalisations and stereotypes, but there is truth behind it.  

My husband will never understand why I need so many shoes or handbags.  I will always be able to tell you the colour of a friends car, but never the model.  I’m all about the detail, he never notices any details whatsoever.  I plan our interiors and pick the paint colours, and he goes along with it because in his world there are only four colours, five max.  

We love each other for our differences.  He would never dare to suggest that I can’t do something because I’m a woman, and nor does he believe that.  But equally, his ‘manly’ qualities mean that jars are opened and spiders are disposed of, without me having to put an SOS call out.  We are equals. Different equals.

 

Gender Neutral

 

But I wonder if we are pushing too hard to make us all the same. And wouldn’t life be boring without our differences?  Maybe it’s the term ‘gender neutral’ I have a problem with.  Girls and boys are different, and as long as they are equal, I am ok with that.   

What do you think?

I’ll leave you with some final thoughts on the differences between men and women from Micheal Mcintyre…

 
 

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14 Comments on Is Gender Neutral Going Too Far?

  1. Gender neutrality is going too far when a store removes boys and girl’s labelling from its clothes. I mean come on, they have different bodies! Why shouldn’t Mothercare be called Mothercare? You ask a good question for which there is a good answer. I’ve raised this with Mothercare myself and met with a couple of its senior management team. As a father the name bothers me because it sells nappies, pushchairs, baby baths, all items that a father would use to care for his child. This, however, is only part of the story.

    Take a look at Mothercare’s old mission statement (one that was only replaced 18 or so months ago) and it clearly stated it was: “designed to meet the needs of mothers-to-be, babies and children up to the age of eight.” Hardly welcoming to fathers. Take those words, tinker with them a little, stick it up outside a football club and see how its female react!

    But anyway, you want an example of gender neutrality gone utterly insane? I actually saw gender neutral underwear advertised in a magazine the other day. Now figure that out!

  2. Yeah, I tend to believe different but equal is how it works most of the time too. With exceptions of course, but I do think there are some general differences between the genders that you see quite a lot. Personally I get annoyed that many people who claim they are fighting gender stereotypes actually seem to be implying that to be feminine is bad. This crusade often seems to involve determinedly making sure your girls don’t do anything ‘girly’. I consider that to be sexism – there is nothing wrong with being girly. There is something wrong with being told you must be girly, but nothing wrong with being girly. I’m quite feminine, but not in a pink, sparkly disney princess way. Nonetheless, my girls have gone firmly that way. And actually that is okay. If that’s what they want, fine. As long as they know they can do and be anything whilst wearing glitter.

    The John Lewis thing seemed fine to me. There are still dresses and skirts, and more ‘boy’ type things, as well as an actually neutral range, and they are just all labelled for kids, not designated on which kids they are for. That seems sensible to me. It’s not saying all kids should be non-gendered. If your girls want to wear traditionally ‘girl’ clothes, they still can pick those. It’s just saying that we don’t necessarily need to say those clothes are for girls. Some boys want to wear them too, and that’s also fine. Plus, the clothes were so cute!

    The Mothercare thing is just those ridiculous MRA/Fathers for Justice people as far as I can tell, and I have no time for those men and their agenda at all. 😀 #FridayFrolics

  3. That Michael MacIntyre sketch is hilarious – he nails those domestic situations! But I am totally with you on the gender neutrality debate. Things have gone far too far. Apparently these is a primary school who are not letting the girls wear skirts because everyone has to wear trousers. How can you take that choice away from girls? It’s all about choice for me. As you so rightly say, girls and boys are different. Men and women are different. It’s fundamental. Of course some girls like boys things sometimes, and some boys like girls’ things sometimes, and that’s great if that’s their choice. All children should be able to choose what they wear or play with whether it be blue, or pink or yellow. It doesn’t matter but to say we’re all the same just isn’t true. All kids should be given the choice to like the same things, but they’re not the same. It’s just fact. Great post #Fridayfrolics

  4. I love the line you have, men and women are equal, different equals. I also think as a world, we are not there yet. We are not equal in a multitude of ways. I think where this entire gender thing is coming from, and trust me, I claim to be no expert at all, is the fact that many kids, young adults, older adults are feeling that they are different. Perhaps not male or female. Perhaps a 4-year-old boy believes he is a girl, or vice-versa. I think a lot of this talk stems from those who truly believe and attest that they were born in the incorrect gender. A toy is a toy and should be played with by anyone. A color is simply a color, and all colors can be beautiful to all people. I think the show, Transparent, handles this topic quite well. It’s new territory for most of us, but for those in the ‘middle’ feeling a different gender, there is a lot of work for the rest of us to do to understand. There is now a whole group of people who prefer to be referred to as ‘They’ instead of he, she etc… Labels are hard no matter where they are… Oh I don’t know but this post is a great start off point of conversation. And anything with Michael Mcintyre is brill! <3 #fridayfrolics

  5. I think we need to keep striving for ‘gender equal’. Equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal choices. For example, it’s not fair that some women hit glass ceilings before some men and it’s not fair that we don’t have as many men working in Primary education. Equal – love that word! Changing the name of Mothercare seems unnecessary, what next? changing Marks and Spencer (both traditionally male names) to Maria’s and Spencer? #fridayfrolics

  6. I am not sure how I feel about this furore over gender neutrality to be honest. I think that John Lewis ditching the girls and boys labels is a bit silly and unnecessary. At the same time though, I see sexism at work, I see men in much more senior roles than their more talented female counterparts. I see a huge gender pay gap. I see women in their 30s and 40s really struggling to keep their careers on track even if they are at work.

    I am not convinced that John Lewis ditching the girls and boys labels is the answer – far from it – but there must be something we can do about this. Pen x #coolmumclub

  7. Fabulous post and I agree with all your points.The most important point as you say is that we are all equal. There is nothing more to say than that.I cannot be arsed with all the rest of the noise!!

  8. Love this Claire – “we are equals, different equals” Yaaaas! I think the key is to not force our children to be one way. If they love pink great, if they don’t great. A lot of the time the adults are the one with the problem, we just need to accept our children for who they and not force them to be something they aren’t. #FridayFrolics

  9. I think everyone is different but nobody fits a boy or girl stereotype, so they should be free to discover where they position themselves. I love JL’s move because it more open for everyone to choose. If you love the top with flowers and your a boy or girl, then you love the top with flowers. The same with the top with cars. It’s ingrained in us what sex this represents; you just thought of it as you read it. #FridayFrolics

  10. It is a tricky one – I wrote a post about ‘Mummy Milestones’recently and got picked up on not including Dads in it, but this wasn’t intentional on my part, they were just written from my perspective as a Mum and from my personal experience, although many were applicable to all… I think the key with our kids is to let them know all the possibilities open to them regardless of gender, and that they’re free to like whatever they want to. I do find the sea of pink in most girls sections of clothes a bit much though, I like pink, but not seven days a week! #FridayFrolics

  11. I hope I can politely say that I disagree with a few of your points. I believe that the differences between you and your husband are not due to being different genders but due to differences in personality. Plenty of women take an interest in cars, many men have more shoes than I do (I only own 4 pairs), I dispose of most of the arachnid invaders in my house and I have literally never asked my husband to open a jar for me.

    I do agree with you that changing the name of Mothercare would be ridiculous. It’s an established business and as you say, it sells many products specifically for mums. Also, no you shouldn’t feel guilty about your son disliking pink, anymore than I should feel guilty that my daughter does like pink. The idea of equality is that these things are choices, rather dictated by stereotype.

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