Gender Neutrality. It’s the latest buzz word. The newest cause. The rights campaigners favourite campaign. It is a topic that is dividing the parenting forums. But what is all the fuss about?
For years boys were boys and girls were girls. But now aparently it’s no good to put little Timmy in a dinosaur hoodie and give him some lego to play with. And woe betide you if Emily is dressed in pink playing with a Barbie – they may come and chant on your doorstep!
We are being bombarded daily at the moment with the gender debate. Only last month saw Canada apply a ‘gender neutral’ option to the passport form. Joining countries such as Australia, Denmark, Malta and Germany to have a third option on gender. There is currently a call to have the UK follow suit. Some even go as far as to want the gender option removed on all official documents, to not have gender recorded. I believe we are now at risk of removing choice – ironic right?
By pushing all this at impressionable children – the stores removing boys and girls wear departments, the schools removing skirts and imposing a default male uniform, even the call for neutral bathrooms – are we unwittingly imposing new societal expectations?
Now don’t get me wrong, I actually agree with loads of comments about toys and clothing. If my daughter wants to wear a tractor jumper of her brothers she can. If my son wants to play with dolls and prams he can. It’s never been an issue for me. But I am not blind to the stereotypes imposed on them from a young age and also the pressure from some people. My hubby would hate for my son to wear a dress in public. My mum hates it when I dress my daughter in something not girly. It’s their expectation based on hundreds of years of gender roles. Boys are rough and ready and girls are princesses.
And this is why I believe it’s such a tough topic. Because from having a boy and a girl I do see massive differences in their characters. My son is really rough compared to my daughter. They have been brought up the same. She didn’t have a lot of girls stuff as she had all his hand me down toys and clothes. Yet she will instantly pick out sparkly shoes over trainers, a soft toy over a tractor. And she has had the choice. I honestly enjoy my son being boistrous and ‘a bit of a boy’. I love it when my daughter wants all her teddies lined up to have a tea party. Does this make me a bad parent? I am now being told by the media that we should be encouraging them to avoid the stereotypes. That we should not be saying this is for boys or that is for girls.
But at the same time the kids ARE different. We are all born with a willy or a vagina and I’m sorry (I ‘m not actually sorry) but why on earth should we want to remove their gender? I believe it opens them up to becoming confused and unable to form an identity. Of course there are going to be those who are different and who do not identify with the body they are born with. I understand they will struggle. And I really fo hope that things can move forward to appreciate this and make it easier to transition for those who need to. But does giving them no gender at all really make it easier for them?
As I said at the start it is a topic that divides opinion. My opinion is that it is a bit like feminism – another cause that for me has moved in the wrong direction. It is now not acceptable to have certain beliefs and values. To want to be a homemaker and not be ambitious as a woman is now seen to not be supporting feminism. And so now wanting your son to be a boy and your daughter to be a girl is starting to be seen as being historic and obtrusive to the gender neutral movement.
I’m not sure where this is all going to go in the future. I’m interested and horrified at the same time.
What are your thoughts on the world going gender neutral? I look forward to hearing from you all.
All opinions are my own and I have refrained from going further into the male / female debate! It’s a minefield and easy to get carried away!