I recently made a post on my Instagram page that prompted this blog post, but in case you didn’t see it, here is a
much longer synopsis:
My daughter recently received two books through a subscription book club. One of the books she received, however, had an illustrated picture of a man driving a backhoe on the cover. I flipped through and it was all about said man, his dog, and the jobs that he works throughout the day.
I put it on the shelf immediately. My darling daughter, in her cute polka dotted outfit and bow, wasn’t going to enjoy reading about a man driving a backhoe. This was obviously for a boy!
And on the shelf it sat for two straight months! I never pulled it down and my daughter passed it by since she was more interested in the all the books Mommy had been picking out and reading her.
And then one day she came across the book about the man with the backhoe. And she loved it. She flipped through it happily. She pointed to his pet dog and smiled. She brought it to me and turned around to plop down in my lap. I read the book and she was enthralled the entire time. She interacts with the words I say, she watches my fingers as we read and count, “one, two, three, four, five.”
And that’s when it hit me. I was total guilty of gender stereotyping! Shame on me!!! I had seen the cover and coined it a “boy book.” But, what does that even mean? I can’t believe I was ignorant enough to completely disregard this book because I coined it gender specific. Why did I think it was so wrong for my daughter to love a book about a helpful man on a backhoe? Hadn’t I grown up with a father and a grandfather that both drove backhoes and that I’d love riding along on! Me, a girl, had loved riding on the backhoe, playing in the dirt, and exploring their construction sites (when it was safe to, of course!) What I had done broke my heart!
If she wants to play with trucks and get dirty in the mud, great, if we have a son one day and he wants to play with dolls and wear pink, great. These things should never be attached to a gender to begin with. I want my daughter to know that I truly believe she can be anything she wants to be and do anything she wants to do! Maybe that means climbing Mt. Everest, or being an astronaut, or playing football, or competing in beauty pageants, or maybe, just maybe, it means driving a backhoe!
After I realized the fault, I reached out on social media, admitting what I had done and immediately wanting to grow awareness of this! And you know what, I received such support!
I had many mothers comment about similar instances they’ve dealt with. Not necessarily that they were at fault like I had been, but mothers that had addressed gender stereotyping in one way or another. And let me tell you, these mothers are far wiser than me!
It was so wonderful reading the stories of fellow moms and it meant more than they know that they reached out to me and showed support. I wanted their responses heard because I think this is some powerful stuff!
These are the comments they left on my Instagram post that day:
“[My daughter] loves cars and tools and I’m sure [my son] will be playing with dolls in no time at all! My brother used to play Barbies with me!” – Suzanne, The Glorious Mundane
“My son brought home Pinkalicious the other day and I loved it!” – Sarah, This Awkward Mom
“[My son and daughter] love sharing books! A lot of nights we read together now, and it’s always fun to see who’s collection they choose from.” – Jessica, Kozy & Co
“My son plays with Barbies when we go to my niece’s house.” – Shadia, Sound of a Bird
“My son asked for a stroller and a baby doll for Christmas last year. When asked why, he said because he wanted a baby just like Daddy (he had a new baby brother). He also asked for a kitchen. Two stereotypical ‘girl’ toys that Santa most definitely brought him. I got some flack from friends who didn’t understand. But you know what? [He] told people he was a “good daddy” when he pushed that stroller and he “cooks” for me almost everyday. He also has a massive collection of hot wheels cars and dump trucks that are his world. We are fostering imagination and life skills.” – Keala, Recipe for a Sweet Life
“My baby girl can get just as rough and tough as her brothers.” – Stephanie, I Literally LOL
Let’s put an end to gender stereotyping!
Please share any experiences you’ve had! I’d LOVE to hear them!!!