With the article “Pink is not for girls and blue is not for boys”- Our Mamacita, Sneha Deshmukh is making her point about gender bias in the Indian Society.
“OMG!! Look at this”… Screamed our guest. She was hell shocked to see my son playing with his sister’s kitchen set. “What’s wrong with him? Does he like these girlish toys instead of cars and robots? You better control him before it’s too late. Make him play with boys stuff rather than giving him these playsets”… started her banter. This lecture which started from mere toys unexpectedly turned to other serious issues like gender and sexuality. I was blank the entire time, unable to understand this phenomenal connection between my kid’s toy preferences to his gender or future.
I have seen so many people categorizing colors, toys, hobbies or several other basic things under two specific genders. Like, pink is always for girls and blue is for boys. I ask why, who decides that? What if my daughter’s favorite colour is blue and not pink? Or what if my son loves pink moreover blue, how does it make a difference? After all, both are mere colours and can never define your gender.
Similarly, I was once explained by a self-proclaimed expert in this field, that we should choose our kid’s hobbies based on their gender. Like girls should go for music and dance, cooking and baking etc, and boys must be made to learn sports and martial arts. My first question to someone with such a weird mentality is, ‘how can we make kids choose some hobby based on what we want them to do? What does hobby mean in your dictionary?’
As per my knowledge, hobby is an activity that we do for our pleasure, which means, we do it because we like to do it! How can someone else tell me what I like and what I must develop as my hobby? Kids have their own natural inclination towards certain things, and we as parents must only identify and help them realize their inclination. Apart from this, it should not be our intention to forcefully make them like something which they actually don’t like or enjoy. It’s not a hobby if you cannot derive pleasure from that.
So, I am good if my daughter says she would like to learn cricket or karate and not dance or music. Marry Com (Wrestling) , Mithali Raj (Cricket), Phogat sisters (Boxing), Alisha Abdullah (F1 Racing) are few amongst many who have tried to break this gender bias and set examples for all little girls to like and pursue their future in the fields of their choice. And I am not a feminist; I don’t say this for some gender equality or something. I am equally unbiased for boys and their choices too. Tomorrow, if my son says he likes to cook, or if he wants to learn some classical dance form and is not into sports, then I don’t feel I must worry about his preferences. Cooking, Dance, Music, Painting, etc are forms of art, and your natural liking towards this is God’s gift. You cannot divide them based on gender. Not one, but many outstanding chefs are mainly male, that’s because they must have loved cooking since childhood. Pt. Birju Maharaj, who holds the “Padma Vibhushan” award under his name, is a renowned Kathak guru.
So, it will not be a wise decision to deviate your kid’s choice just because his/her choice does not meet our society’s gender expectations. Instead, our society must change this age-old thought process.
Next time when your son wants to play with a kitchen set or a doll house, don’t say “it’s for girls, you can’t play with that!”. Instead, let him explore, maybe he will find something of his liking in it. It’s just a toy and is not going to harm him or his future in any way. Next time, when your son cries, don’t say “don’t behave like a girl”, let him cry. He is just trying to express his emotions, and we must teach kids to express themselves and not otherwise. Next time if he wants to opt out of a cricket class, just let him be, if he actually likes it, he will surely miss the class and will want to join back. If not, it’s not his cup of tea.
Same goes for your princess. Instead of always selecting a girly dress for her to doll up, let her go with her choice of a more tomboy look if she wants to. It’s not a big deal if she prefers a dungaree over a lehenga. Let her play outside in the mud. Let her join the football academy if that pleases her. Don’t stop her just because she is a girl. Buy her a toy car instead of a kitchen set if she wants one. If she hits someone who misbehaves with her, do explain the consequences as a kid but never tell her that she shouldn’t go around hitting like boys. Instead, tell her that you are proud of her if she is able to protect herself against any injustice done towards her.
As a final note, for me, a boy is no different than a girl, with similar likes and dislikes. It would be unfair if we don’t let them experience and explore everything that they are curious about. Setting some presumptions in their minds based on what we were taught or fed with is not correct. With the ever-changing world, sky’s the limit for their thoughts and imaginations. We must let our little ones explore their own world before they make their own decisions.
Let’s eradicate this gender-biased thought process, let’s create a beautiful and free world for these little geniuses.