Thanks, Society, for Undermining My Efforts to Keep My Son From Getting Caught Up with Traditional Gender Roles

Not too long ago, while visiting at my parents’ house, a trip to Home Depot was suggested for the sake of obtaining necessary items for a small home improvement project.

Out of my son’s mouth came the words, “Home Depot is a man’s store.”

This distressed me because we’re talking about a boy who sees a man cooking, doing dishes, and laundry (although he doesn’t do these things all on his own). I usually take out the trash. Much of the time, the things being done at home are being done by everyone together, regardless of gender.

And there is much talk of traditional gender roles around the table. So it was a little disheartening to see that, finally, society and the fact that traditional gender roles are constantly hammered into his head no matter where he is, and especially at church, he has succumbed.

So much for the little boy who thought it stupid that I couldn’t baptize him.

At any rate, it doesn’t help that everything has to be gendered these days. How do we make sure that women who use tools and guns are using the right tools and guns? Why, they have to pink, of course! (Language warning on that last link, for those that care.)

While I do agree that there can be differences between the genders, and I guess I have to believe that because I’m Mormon, I’m more interested in individual differences, and the fact that my gender doesn’t totally define me. Unfortunately, practically everything, from toys to whiskey, is gendered.

I don’t even like most of the stuff aimed at the ladies.

I worry that all this talk about “man” things and “woman” things will only serve to continue to limit options for members of both genders, due to social pigeonholing that is hard to escape.

2 Responses to Thanks, Society, for Undermining My Efforts to Keep My Son From Getting Caught Up with Traditional Gender Roles

  1. I have been bothered by this for several years. I was raised by a woman who graduated from German college with a degree in Montessori teaching. All toys in my house were strangely gender neutral(and designed for creativity). Dolls were blue, red and green and it wasn’t until the 3rd or 4th sibling that pink plastic crept in.

    I had no idea it was designed that way, just that my mom refused to buy us Barbies…

    Now I am hardpressed to find any toys that are not very clear in their gender intention. It is almost as if there is a backlash to the gender equality f the ’70s that is so vitriolic that our kids get dragged into it. Even blocks and playmobile have jumped on the bandwagon.

    It is frustrating to say the least. I keep trying and battling those lines that my kids pick up outside the house. I think it will be never-ending.

    • The best you can do, I think, is discuss it. And my son does still have a better grasp on the situation than many others. Perhaps as the world progresses we can break out of these stereotypes. But it really is an uphill battle.

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