There’s been a big argument recently against the common practice of gendering toys and books in order to appeal to a particular audience. For years, I never really paid very much attention to the argument. Honestly, if you don’t like something just stay away from it and do what you need to and be happy. However, I read an article on the Huffington Post about gendered books that really got me thinking of my own childhood.
I like girly things. I wear dresses, heels, I love makeup and I know how to sew. But I also like comic books, video games, baseball and boxing. Just those sentences show what I was taught as a child in terms of gender norms. It shouldn’t make someone feel different just because they like certain activities that aren’t considered “usual” for their gender. Things like comic books and video games appeal to certain people who have a certain cerebral perforrmance, not because they have certain sexual organs. And the same thing goes for dresses, heels and makeup.
In the article, written by Caroline Bologna, they point out some of the harmful gender stereotypes listed on the front of books called The Big Book of Girl Stuff and The Big Book of Boy Stuff. While the boy book implies boys need to know how to build rockets and what books to read, the girl book gives advice on how to start babysitting and how to give the perfect compliment. Another major issue is that the boy book says “how do I tell a girl I like her” and vice versa on the girl book.
Nobody is claiming that its not ok to include these things in the books, but the issue here is that a whole subsection of children are being alienated. I know there are those out there who believe that we are far too sensitive toward gays, transgendered individuals and gender queers, to which I affirm and understand. However, we should be sensitive to them because that’s what they deserve after years of having to remain in the closet. To hand a child a book that includes “how to tell someone I like them” will not at all make them say “Someone? That means I can like someone of my own gender! Suddenly, I’m gay!” Nope. Just like wearing heels doesn’t make a man want to be with another man or how playing sports doesn’t make a woman a lesbian. Unfortuately, that is not at all the way love works and kids are much smarter than we may think. By including the OPTION, we are opening the doors to children who will be proud of who they are and more accepting to people who like different things from them. The gendering of toys and books does not need to happen anymore because we should be able to be whatever definition of our genders that we want it to be.