Monday, 16 August 2010

Fact-finding mission!

On a recent fact-finding mission to Mothercare it became clear just how early one's baby becomes gendered.  That said, this fact-finding mission was undertaken with a tape measure in my pocket to give it a manly purpose, and it was called a fact-finding mission, so in terms of gender I'm no angel...

Which appears to be the point:  only girls can be angels, while boys are expected, from birth, to be monsters or monkeys.  Trying to shop for baby clothes that don't cover your unknowing child in prejudice really limits your choices.  Helicopters, robots and a range of motor vehicles can be found on blue backgrounds, while pink options mostly involve princesses, hearts and glitter.  Boys are all action, while girls look pretty, a distinction that Grayson Perry is so adept at playing with. 

Grayson Perry's fabric, possibly still available at Liberty
The toy section also provides much grist for this particular mill.  Flick through the Argos catalogue for more examples, and consider adverts for shaving products, the contrast between gender targeting made all the more stark by the products being essentially identical. 

I would feel uncomfortable if I was responsible for pigeonholing my child so early on.  I know that I can probably look forward to a Princess phase if it's a girl, and a football player phase if it's a boy. These things are almost inevitable, but Speaking as a Father, I would seek to minimise parental indoctrination as much as possible, although I'm still the one with the tape measure, and my wife has candles at bath time.

It's easier to challenge accepted role models with girls, as you can dress them in blue and buy them fire engines and hammers to play with.  Girls can be de-gendered.  How do you do that for boys?

I've posted about this before, and probably will again, but for the time being we're putting our stock in the Jungle Friends range.  Jungle explorers of either sex all wear khaki.

1 comment:

  1. Jungle explorers of either sex all wear khaki.

    And pith helmets. Can we get those in the newborn range?