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Gender stereotypes - what do YOU think?

(36 Posts)
LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 25-Jun-19 16:00:00

We'd love your input on this as so many of your provide childcare for your grandchildren or even if you don't you will have a view on this.

We've been asked to contribute to a Commission on the ways in which parents, carers and extended family convey and instil gender stereotypes to children. For example, differing expectations, language, clothing, interests, modelling behaviour etc.
- In your opinion what behaviours and decisions have the biggest impact?
- How much is within your control?
- Do you think things are changing? Are you conscious when interacting with your grandchildren not to subscribe to gender stereotypes?

- What changes could grandparents make to challenge stereotypes?
- What is already changing and ‘what works’?
- What is likely to have the greatest impact?
- What approaches are persuasive across different and diverse communities?

Thank you so much. Any input on any of these questions would be wonderful.

Iam64 Tue 25-Jun-19 16:26:05

- family behaviours and decisions are Kay, with school next. Tv social media are here very influential

- we can try to challenge harmful stereotypes but media influential but family key

- The gender divide on toys and clothes is bigger now than forty years ago. The boys get science and adventure in the boys section, the girls get dolls, princesses and unicorns. Talk about gender stereotyping

- grandparents can buy toys and games that don’t play to unicorn land. We can chat about the books and dvd they watch

- parents greatest influencers

+- good question about diverse communities. Some traditional faith groups won’t challenge gender stereotypes, the opposite. That’s where school and we wish, social media can help

Gonegirl Tue 25-Jun-19 16:36:29

I believe boys will turn out to be "boy" boys, or effeminate. Girls will turn out to be, and stay, tomboys, or a more feminine type of woman.

How you bring them up will make no difference. And it doesn't matter anyway.

The important thing is for all to be accepted as they are. And allowed to be what they are.

Why try to influence anyone?

Equal opportunities being important goes without saying.

Whitewavemark2 Tue 25-Jun-19 16:37:39

Biggest impact on a child - parents

Within my control? - it isn’t - the decisions my children make about the way they bring up my grandchildren are entirely their own.

Things changing? - difficult to say, we are a liberal family so the grandchildren are very aware of race, gender and religious prejudice.

Grandparents challenging stereotypes- reading and discussion appropriate stories when young and family discussions when older, but we all tend to sing from the same hymn sheet so not really appropriate.

Diverse communities - I think faith schools are a major issue in diverse communities. Children should mix from as early an age as possible

Gonegirl Tue 25-Jun-19 16:42:49

The "diverse communities" should be allowed to decide for themselves, so long as no child is harmed. Gentle persuasion towards modern day/western type thinking might be good to a certain extent. But it should be very gentle.

Day6 Tue 25-Jun-19 17:10:04

Nature over nurture often does the work for us.

My daughters played with Meccano as well as dolls. My sons pushed her dollies' pram and enjoyed playing with their Thomas the tank trains. Not once did I have to explain that they were girls and they were boys.

One daughter had (still has) a friend who was a tomboy from nursery onwards. She hated dresses so always wore trousers. Still does. She is in a lesbian relationship now and has a son - who wears trousers because she isn't going to be the Mum who sends her son to school in a skirt because of gender issues - and I cannot blame her.

I think we only confuse small children if we make them aware of 'gender'. It concerns me greatly that a minority are trying to influence what children are taught about gender in schools, at an early age.

Most of all, the innocence of childhood should not be infected by too much 'awareness'. That is the joy of childhood for most - lack of awareness and being able to sleep without thinking of these big issues.

I believe we can only guide our children and grandchildren. I don't want them to be clones of me. I want them to question and be aware and make the decisions that are right for them, when they are old enough to make choices. OLD ENOUGH being the operative words.

Day6 Tue 25-Jun-19 17:18:02

I meant to add - don't we all teach by example too? If I am not racist or sexist or any other 'ist' my children won't be either. We can use opportunities to gently point out matters little ones are not conscious of, but we have no right to hammer home an adult agenda.

I remember one of my son's telling me after nursery that he played with a little boy "covered in brown". I asked him what he meant. "Well, I am covered in." he looked at his arm.."Um white"
I smiled and explained why skin colour was different. I don't think it mattered as his next sentence was "He is my best friend."

He noticed a difference, but in the world of a four year old, it just didn't matter.

BlueBelle Tue 25-Jun-19 17:25:59

You are right Day6 if you hear a small child swear or poke fun at another use racist or homophobic language you don’t have to look Far to see where it comes from
Thinking if your son and his best friend I loved this

The only things that’s should be separated by colour is the laundry

trisher Tue 25-Jun-19 18:12:39

Having brought up 3 boys my GD was a bit of a welcome surprise. I think there are some differences, much like the daughters of my friends GD has always been more communicative and more willing talk about everything. However she has always played with all sorts of toys from cars and trains to dolls. She passed through a 'pink phase' and at six has decided pink is naff. She dresses up as all sorts of things and was delighted with a pirate book that told the story of a female pirate she could pretend to be.
Her younger brother is much more obsessed with trains although he does sometimes push a buggy about with a baby doll in it. He too dresses up and does ocasionally wear a Princess dress.
Both of them play with lego a lot.
I am a bit concerned about the toys aimed at girls that include make up and hair styling.
I think challenging sterotypes involves us allowing children to take part in as many different activities as possible and not seeing dance classes as for girls and football clubs for boys, but this is sometimes difficult as these activities are often made up of a majority of one gender.
I think GPs could help change things by ensuring that GCs see both GFs and GMs doing housework and by talking about the work both GPs do or have done and not making it appear that the GFs job is more important.
I hope all my GCs will be able to fully realise all their ambitions in the future regardless of gender.

M0nica Tue 25-Jun-19 20:34:08

I think gender stereotyping comes first and foremost from the family. My mother's family had several generations of women widowed young, with young children and having to work to provide for their families.

I was one of three girls and grew up expected to get a good education and a career. The idea that I should defer to men, never once raised it's ugly head. I have no memories of my father ever sitting down if my mother was doing anything domestic. If he was home when she was cooking, cleaning or anything else, he would be helping her. It drove her mad, she preferred to work without helpers of any age, children, or adults.

I went off to university to read economics and only discovered it was an almost entirely male discipline when I got there. I never found it intimidatingand it never stopped me speaking out because no one ever told me that I shouldn't. I am not sure I met much gender stereotyping as a child. If I did it went over my head because I didn't think it applied to me. My sisters were similar.

I brought my children up without gender stereotyping. Both of them by nature were the opposite in character to their genders anyway; Quiet gentle caring son, and noisy rumbustuous and technically-minded daughter, who is now an engineer.

DS is an academic in an humanities subject, as is DDiL. Their children are being brought up in a home where both adults do everything from cooking to cleaning, to looking after the children.

Their children perfectly match the gender stereotypes. {shock]. DGS is football mad and animal and lego mad. DGD is pretty and feminine into clothes, make-up,, dancing and giggling with her friends. However there the stereotypes end. It would never occur to her or her brother to think that there were any gender specific restrictions on what they or their opposite gender sibling did.

In our family we now have three generations, probably four, taking into account my maternal grandmother, of generations where gender stereotypes were not present in the family, although they clearly existed in outer society.

I am convinced that the source of gender stereotypes lies first and foremost in the family and that outside influences only reinforce these stereotypes where the child is already being indoctrinated in them at home.

Bridgeit Tue 25-Jun-19 20:39:58

Brought up in the 50s I much preferred to polish shoes with my Father & help with the gardening ,I hated baking etc. My sons are much better cooks than I ever was ( by necessity 😄) we are all capable adults who can turn our hand to most things but we are not all suited to everything, none of the above was an indication of our sexuality as it happens none of us are gay, (but we are all reasonably happy. Joke ! ) We should stop with the categorisation., & aim to be well adjusted citizens who accept each other as we are which I think in the main we do,the problems arise when we either force correct terminologies or conversely are offensive . Live & let live. As the song says ‘ I’m only human after all don’t put your blame on me ‘

SueDonim Tue 25-Jun-19 21:13:30

I hope I don't instill any gender stereotypes into my grandchildren. They are first and foremost children, their sex doesn't have any influence on what I do with them or how I talk to them.

In the communities they are all live in I'd say pretty much everyone is onboard with the equality message and also their schools. They see their parents with equal-ranking jobs or in some cases the mother being the main breadwinner so it's a message they've absorbed naturally.

When it comes to clothing there is still a lot of pink and blue, much more so than when mine were young. There are more girls' outfits with so-called 'boyish' things like dinosaurs or wild animals but they're still produced in pink.

Regarding schools, I'd love to see state faith schools of all shades abolished. I think they're divisive and set people apart. If anyone wants a religious education they should have to go private.

Pantglas1 Tue 25-Jun-19 21:23:29

All the above are very interesting but there’s such a long way to go when a poster on another thread suggests that cutting the grass is the man’s job........

M0nica Tue 25-Jun-19 21:32:01

Gosh, I had better tell DH. I am the the grass cutter in our family and always have been.

pinkquartz Tue 25-Jun-19 22:50:28

I have not fitted into a gender stereotype for the almost my entire life and i am almost 66. it angered my mum but not my dad and i don't remember anyone else being bothered . I was probably seen as a tomboy. I have a daughter and 5 grandchildren. My daughter was not a girly girl but interestingly her girls are a range of "type". same mum same upbringing but all different.
I was brought up not to be discriminatory because my parents had a lot of hassle for being different religions.
My Dad was a warm emotional person and my mum a cold fish. He was a great cook and washer upper and also fab at DIY.
I wish there was less pink and blue in toys and clothes

In the present my grandchildren seeing my male carer and knowing that men can be nurturing too.
They already live in a world that is not about men's work or women's work but instead people play to their own strengths.

BradfordLass72 Wed 26-Jun-19 06:26:05

If I didn't think my son would put an instant contract out on me, I'd post a picture of him and his best friend (both about 8) dressed in my lacies, shawls and jewelry.

I didn't buy them guns but all the other toys, as well as dolls were available to them and they played equally with each.

They made guns from twigs and Lego. grin

FarNorth Wed 26-Jun-19 06:56:48

My adult daughter recently told me that she appreciates the fact that she and her brother were treated the same - which was not what she saw in other families, while growing up.

I am very worried about the introduction of 'trans awareness' into schools and society in general.
Accepting children as they are shouldn't mean convincing them that they are the opposite sex and setting them on a path to lifelong medication with unknown side-effects.

Franbern Wed 26-Jun-19 11:14:07

Why do you even think that letting children know that there are several types of genders that this - in any way- encourages or sets them on the road of considering themselves the opposite sex/
This is exactly what was said about Gay people - that they could be taught to be gay. Absolute a and total rubbish, any more than a gay person can be 'taught' NOT to be gay.
But then in the past, we in GB, were also taught that people with a different skin colour were of inferior intelligence (although many had 'good rhythm')!!!
Age appropriate instruction in different home set=ups and the reasons for this can only help to set us on the road of a more tolerant society.......and that is most definitely something that is needed.

Granny23 Wed 26-Jun-19 12:50:06

Perhaps I had an unusual upbringing but I was totally unaware of any gender stereotyping until I entered the world of work.

My DF was one of 3 boys who had all been well schooled in cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing by my Gran. My mother, brought up in a 2 girl family, with an invalid Mother, was similarly well versed in all aspects of housekeeping + gardening, DIY, etc. Even in their hobbies (ballroom dancing and mixed doubles badminton) they were equal partners. My Mother always worked, freelance when we were wee, so that she could co-ordinate her work with my Father's shift patterns, ensuring that there was always at least one parent at home for us.

My sister and I grew up accustomed to Dad cooking while Mum was the baker, either of them washing, ironing, painting and wallpapering, Although the gardening (fruit and veg) was Dad's domain, with much help from us kids, we all joined in with tattie howking & fruit picking and making pounds of jams and jellies. Both parents could drive so it might be one or t'other who took us on outings, shopping, or going to appointments. (My Dad famously passed out at the Dentists while I was having all my back teeth removed grin

Dad liked his toys, so it was he who instigated the enormous trainset which we played with for hours all over the living room to mum's annoyance, The home made Doll's House with electric Lighting!, papered, painted, and furnished exactly like our prefab, was, however, a joint effort. We were equally happy in dungarees working at the allotment with Dad or in frilly frocks at one of Mum's famous Children's Parties.

I married young to an 'only son' who had no preconceived notions about differences in what girls/boys did. Consequently our two DDs were as comfortable helping Dad in his joiner's workshop, or me wallpapering, washing the works van, making cakes and jam or going to dance classes/sports training.

I am happy to say that our DDs, now with their own children, 2 girls and (a big surprise) 1 boy, continue to provide a non gender specific childhood where activities across a wide spectrum are encouraged for all, according to their own talents and preferences. As it happens, the boy is the one most concerned with his appearance, hair and clothing and has always been the most cautious of the 3 whereas the girls are devil may care and up for any adventure. But that is just their own personalities, isn't it?

FarNorth Wed 26-Jun-19 16:41:56

Franbern, I disagree that there are several types of genders.
There are two sexes, whose members should be free to dress and behave however they like as long as it harms no-one else.

Guidance which has been given to schools, however, suggests that boys and girls who do not fit gender stereotypes for their sex may be 'trans'.
Have you looked at youtube videos of happy trans kids and their happy parents?
All of them, that I have seen, rely heavily on gender stereotypes, with some parents saying how they tried to make their child look and act 'boyish' or 'girlish' before accepting the (usually very young) child's statement that they didn't want to be a boy/girl as meaning that the child was trans.
The child then proceeds happily believing that all is well, completely unaware of the implications of medication and surgery that may be in store for them.

M0nica Thu 27-Jun-19 10:04:34

As I have said before, I spent my childhood wanting to be a boy and I certainly did not fit gender stereotypes. I am however, eternally grateful that no one ever suggested I was 'trans' and should become male, because as puberty set in it was quite clear that my gender and sexuality matched.

Because no one ever suggested that I be other than I am. I have been happily married for over 50 years, have children and grandchildren. One of the things I have noticed is how much confusion many transgender people have with their sexuality. Are they gay, straight? Are they both and how do they deal with a hormone system that drives them one way when their transformation and surgery says they are something else.

Yet none of this would be necessary if we did not have gender stereotypes. If we just accepted people as they are and if no one took any notice of what clothes a child chose to wear or who or what they played with, I wonder if these ideas that a child is trans because they do not fit a conventual gender stereotype would go away.

Franbern Thu 27-Jun-19 16:13:11

Farnorth, does not matter than you disagree with the actual fact that there are several different types of genders. Your disagreement does not make it any more fact that there are. Where is any evidence that schools are encouraging children to think of themselves as 'trans' if they show signs of non-usual gender type behavior?
Teachers that I know have little time to carry out all the normal paperwork for their teaching time, let alone have any time for this sort of thing. Yes, if a pupil declares themselves trans then the school will be supportive and helpful (as indeed they should be), but that is all.
There have been so many cases of hidden trans people in history - most of whom we will never know, many of them leading desperately unhappy and unfulfilling lives trying to be the sexual orientation they appeared to have
Thank heaven these days, this sort of sad lives do not need to happen, young people can be what they feel they are, and, YES< this may be different at different times of their lives.
Nobody rushes into surgery - at least not in UK - at a young age - and adolescents have lots of time to try to sort out their gender/sexual confusions.
However, it is so important that the wider areas of society can learn to understand trans people and not treat them with derision or worse.
The young child with two Mummies or two Daddies may well be in a much happier home than another youngster with the more usual Mummy/Daddy set up.
It took a long time to accept single parent families - in the past those children were called horrible names and treated in many cases as pariahs.
We are moving forward - but acceptance of differences is still difficult. That is the reason that this needs to be referred to in schools.

Barmeyoldbat Thu 27-Jun-19 16:24:44

I dont fit into the gender type either, my dad having all girls and no boys taught us diy, electrics, and car and cycle maintenance which in my day was boys stuff. I am still the one who will drill a hole in the wall, put in a new skirting board and do some plastering. My own son can cook, sew and do diy, it comes from the parents.

FarNorth Thu 27-Jun-19 20:03:56

Franbern, you clearly disagree with me but that doesn't make what you say fact.
You seem quite confused.
Sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender identity.
Families with two Mummies or two Daddies usually have nothing to do with gender identity.
"hidden trans people in history" may have had nothing to do with gender identity or sexual orientation - how can we know?
They lived in society with rigid gender roles, based on sex, and may well have wished simply to be free of their prescribed role, especially if they were female.

Busy teachers who instantly 'support' a pupil [who] declares themselves trans are most likely unintentionally supporting gender stereotypes that have been imposed on the child.

There are two biological sexes, even in people described as intersex.
There are any number of ways people can present themselves to the world, but these have nothing at all to do with biological sex.

FarNorth Thu 27-Jun-19 20:16:34

My DS told me that his 5year-old DD has been trying to pee standing up because she 'wants to be a boy'.
I'm sure that is simply because the things she likes are much the same as boys usually like, and she has noticed that.
At 5, she hasn't the faintest idea about being trans or what that would mean in the future.
If she were to change 'wants to be a boy' to 'I am a boy' do you think that should be supported for several years by adults affirming that she is, in fact, a he?
If so, do you think she would arrive at puberty believing anything other than that she has to take medication, bind her breasts tightly and contemplate future surgery, because she is 'in the wrong body'?