Google+ Authentic Parenting: Gendering of Boys

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gendering of Boys

A lot of thought and attention goes to the gendering of children, girls specifically, in our society. Western Society indeed imposes very strong and harmful stereotypes on children, and this from a young age onwards. Wether it is in the clothes they wear or the toys they play with, it is hard to find neutral things, even for a little baby.

But boys are just as gendered by toys and society at large, and it is just as harmful. They are pushed towards aggressive toys, towards gendered play. They are told not to do certain things because they are 'for girls'.
There is little to no room for different sexual orientations. Boys are told as soon as they can stand on two feet that they'll find a girl to marry. Many parents secretly stress at night that their boy might be gay, because they liked the pink T-shirt at the market. People shrug and say "well he's a boy" when they engage in aggressive behavior.

Image: Anyjazz65 on Flickr
Even though the stereotyping of boys is most often positive (boys are seen as strong, accomplished, athletic, intellectual...), there is little room for deviance. Less even than for girls (imagine the reactions you'd get when a boy is wearing a dress or lipstick, even when he's just two), and boys that do deviate from the path are queer, sissy's, wussy's... All this is more accepted for little girls. They can wear pants, they can be aggressive, they can play with lego, as well as with dolls.

Boys are not out of the loop when it comes to harmful gendering at all... and the fact that this problem is often forgotten, that we tend to focus on the girls, makes it even worse. It points out that we haven't even diagnosed it as a problem.

So next time you talk about the negative stereotyping and the bad influence of our gendering culture, please don't forget the boys!



  1. So true! Boys are also not allowed to cry for too long! My brother used to cry a lot, and I remember my dad saying that it is too much for a boy! Maybe that why he is now an emotional recluse?

  2. I've never understood why parents think it's "in their genes" for boys to play with certain toys. There are no guns in nature!

  3. Thanks for posting this. My mother thinks I am slightly daft in the head when I say I wont be colour coding my baby boy. She was cooing over some blue jumpers and looked at me oddly when I said my boy would look nice in a lovely purple-y jumper.

    Gender is a choice not a biological function in my view. I hope I can raise my child listening to what they think and want rather than imposing outdated and harmful ideas on him.

  4. I love your work. Thank you. Keep it coming.


I love comments! Drop me a line