The Christmas holidays are approaching and the shop windows, television and advertising in general show us an obvious reality: everything that is considered boys is blue, what is considered pink girls. Behind these colors there is also a harsher reality, there are materials intended for girls (generally related to the care of others such as kitchens, irons, hairdressing games, nursing, etc.) and others intended for them, children , more related to fighting games, strength, research, etc.
Offering only toys to a boy or girl recognized “classically” as toys according to their gender limits the development of these children and their capacities, because they pigeonhole them in certain roles. And it is that the game in children is not simple fun, with it they learn about the world, relationships, the environment … it influences the formation of personality, the formation of bonds … Yes, through the toys we offer we are also transmitting values.
I think that many mothers and fathers are clear that these divisions of both colors and toys respond to gender stereotypes. We try to offer them materials and clothes of all colors, offer egalitarian models to our children … but sometimes, even so, they respond to these stereotypes (girls ask us for pink and princess things and boys fight games, for example) . This makes us doubt and we wonder … what else to do to raise equality? Could it be that we are doing something wrong?
For me personally, it is a subject that generates many doubts and from which I recognize that I still have a lot to learn. That is why I wanted to invite my friend Gemma Guillamón to this space today, an expert in feminist motherhood, sexism and conscious parenting and who offers talks and workshops on this matter since 2012. In addition, surely many of you will also know her for being the mother who is behind Porteo Natural .
Hello Gemma, welcome to this space and thank you for being here. To put ourselves a little bit and understand the importance of this issue, I would like to know, first of all, why a non-sexist upbringing or free of gender stereotypes is important.
Because maintaining that gender division is to limit our children’s world in half . Girls cannot reach everything reserved for boys, such as the color blue (how beautiful it is!), Logic games, cars, fighting, etc. and children are forbidden to the color pink, cooking, caring for dolls … We don’t want to give our children 3-legged chairs, but we want them to know the whole reality, right? If we perpetuate gender stereotypes, we are making part of that reality invisible.
I think that nowadays mothers and fathers want to do well. We strive to do better than our parents, just as they strived to do better than theirs. Thus the world is advancing little by little. In this advance, the word “conscious parenting” has become fashionable, but what does this type of parenting imply? It is not just about respecting the biological rhythms of children, collecting or adapting spaces so that they are autonomous. It is about becoming aware of how the world works, how we move in it, how we occupy space … because being aware of the inequalities between genders we can build a more egalitarian, respectful and loving world.
And to contextualize a little more … Are boys and girls really born with different interests and attitudes? Or is it cultural?
Biologically we are different and so are our brains. But I would dare to say that 90% of the differences and behaviors that we observe are cultural and only 10% respond to biological issues.
From the time a baby is born, society is directed differently from him depending on whether he is a boy or a girl. Boys are put on their feet more, they are told how “strong” they are, how “champions” they are … while girls are emphasized more on their beauty, their sweet features and they are kept more in positions. lying down.
All these behaviors that occur from birth (or even earlier today, since we know the sex of the baby) also modulate the brain, so it is difficult to determine to what extent some interests are innate or conditioned. But most likely, most of it is a cultural acquisition.
I have observed with my own son that when children are young they play beautifully with each other, there are no distinctions or conflicting interests. As she grows up… I see how girls play more princesses and boys play fights. Even in environments that are aware of the subject and in which they try to avoid value judgments and the perpetuation of roles. The culture is there and the children absorb it everywhere. As a general rule … they see that cashiers and hairdressers are women, that plumbers, transporters or mechanics are men … and those who identify with a gender are drawn a lot towards that.
What can we do from home to minimize this?
The first thing to do is to work in the same @, as a mother or father.
Mothers and fathers are an example that our children follow, that is why it is essential that the change begins with ourselves . We have to understand what gender roles are and realize the privileges or prejudices that we have just for the fact of having one sex or another. How are homework organized? Does this issue remove us? Why?
We must understand and reflect on all this because children imitate us. They constantly absorb the information around them without any type of filter and integrate it into their person .
And how can we start a more egalitarian parenting?
As I was saying, change begins in us and requires personal work, which is long because we were born and raised in this culture. It is not easy to get rid of all the cultural baggage that we already carry. But there are very simple little actions that we can start with, such as :
– Offer a wide range of toys ( we will talk about this later)
– That there be a plurality of options with our children’s clothing, whether in terms of the type of garment, colors, etc.
– Do not pigeonhole our children in color. All the boys = blue / All the girls = pink. That’s why I always say that my parenting style is rainbow , we use all colors, without prejudice.
– Take care of the vocabulary we use, especially with labels. For example, if we have a daughter and a son, we should not use “pretty” for the girl and “strong” for the boy. And in case we use these we label we have to make sure that we say them to both children (genders) equally.
– Movies are also emerging that introduce changes in the classic gender roles and in the messages of the film industry, such as “Frozen”, “Brave” … They are a good option to broaden the perspective of our children. Although I think it is important to always watch these films, to be able to comment on them together, because even though the message is clear for us, we do not know how our children receive it. That is why we must put our voice to the film, so that the message reaches the right way.
These are some small changes that we can easily introduce on a day-to-day basis. Read about the subject, question the assignments of tasks, etc. they are also important.
Brilliant. Now we have done much of this work that you propose. We have questioned ourselves, we have established the values we want to transmit, we try to offer a non-sexist education … and our daughters want to wear pink and princesses all day and our sons only think about football and cars. Have we done something wrong? Should we insist on avoiding these cultural preferences or do we support them?
We must ALWAYS support our children and we must let them BE.
Many times we believe that parenting is about educating and obtaining immediate results and it is not. Breeding involves planting seeds and they will bear fruit in adulthood.
As mothers and fathers we offer the environment that we believe best: educate in empathy, equality, respect for nature … there will be families that will follow strict rhythms, others that will not, vegetarian families and others that will not, etc. And that work we do is what we give to our children.
The mere fact that they listen to us, that they see our way of doing things, already opens a gap for them in this world, although the change is little by little and although the effort in raising and transmitting values is seen in Adulthood. As parents, we must always respect our children.
The Christmas campaign is approaching and the advertising of toys is aggressive and has a great impact on the toys division on the basis of gender. Our children may ask us only for toys that correspond to that division. Should we give them only what they ask for or offer toys of all kinds?
As mothers we have to offer the most varied environment possible to our children. It is ideal that at home there is at least one toy of each type.
In talks and workshops they sometimes tell me that at home there is no space to have toys of all kinds. I always advise that you can prepare an environment properly in a small space. We can place a shelf in the dining room, in which the materials are visible, and ensure that they are varied and stimulating.
For example, there is a car, a doll, a building game, another logic game (like a puzzle), a mini-kitchen, a tool kit … Children change, their interests change. If there are all kinds of materials at your fingertips, they will adapt to the child, and not the other way around.
You have to realize that giving away only one type of toys is already castrating . That is why I recommend providing variety and each child, depending on their experiences, will give them one use or another.
What advice would you give to choose toys?
– You have to forget about colors in toys because there are no colors for boys or girls.
– Choose toys that reflect the diversity of each person. We are not all equal.
– Make sure that the toys are varied and not limit ourselves to the classic toys of each genre, we must forget about the labels “girl” or “boy” toys.
– Understand that play in childhood is not entertainment but a means of learning. That is why you have to choose carefully so as not to continue promoting inequalities.
– Prevent children from seeing excessive advertising and catalogs of toys that are markedly sexist.
Thank you for sharing with us all this useful information, I am sure it will help more than one family. Would you like to say something else to finish?
Yes, I would like to emphasize that, although the concept of “feminist motherhood” can be scary, because many have wanted to give a negative meaning to “feminism”, the truth is that it only pursues equality between both sexes. And for me it is one more part of conscious or respectful parenting. It is about making visible how the world is, how gender relations are, to be able to give our children the necessary tools to defend themselves in a world that is like this and so that they are aware of the damages or privileges that they can have for belonging to one or other gender. Only in this way will we achieve a more egalitarian world.
Thanks again Gemma!
I hope that this interview has been as useful and interesting as it was me and that it serves to reflect on the importance of offering an equal education, either through our example, the values we transmit and the toys we offer, so that our children can be free to be who they are (without the pressure of gender stereotypes) and to be independent and happy people in their own skin.