It may be a little strange that a blogger who’s website focuses on one gender would be interested in a
book about parenting beyond gender stereotypes. One of the reasons I created this blog was because I worry about gender inequality for boys and well as girls. I love the website “A Mighty Girl” and wanted to create a little something for boys as well. (Incidentally, A Mighty Girl is where I learned about this book.) I realize that many will say that boys don’t need any extra websites to help them with equality. But a quote in this book, Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, perfectly summed up my reasoning.
“Boy World is a strict place: This research reflects a harsh reality for boys. Girls are more flexible than boys about what kinds of toys they can play with and how they can act. Girl-world is a much more open, accepting place than Boy-World. For example, girls play with boy toys much more often than boys play with girl toys…But boys can be brutally teased for doing anything girl-like. Girls are allowed to branch out, whereas peers in Boy-World strictly enforce gender rules.” (p.127)
I loved that this book focused on the stereotypes for both boys and girls. I realize that girls have more inequalities that they must face, but I want to point out that so do boys. For example, I’ve been saving a childhood doll of mine for when we (hopefully) have a girl. After reading this book, I pulled out my doll Suzy for Man-cub D to play with. I realized there were many lessons that he could learn by taking care of a doll. Lessons that I wanted him to learn, like how to be gentle with babies, how to be aware of their needs, having empathy. Although he doesn’t play with her as much now that the newness has worn off, it’s fun to see him occasionally pull her out so she can sit at dinner with us or a read a book with him.
While I expected the author, Christia Spears Brown, to be extreme in her beliefs, she was actually quite balanced. She knows that she cannot singlehandedly change our culture of gender obsession. So she chooses her battles. Her daughters have girl names. They know their genders. The author doesn’t ban pink from the house. What she does do is ban barbies. She also will confiscate any clothes gifted to her girls that have negative gender stereotype messages printed on them. She does her best to use gender neutral language with her daughters, basing her praise on their actions rather than mentioning their gender (ex: “What a big kid you are!” instead of, “What a big girl you are!”)
This book argues that essentially before puberty, boys and girls are extremely similar and don’t need to be treated differently because of their gender. To give you a taste of the practical advice you’ll get in the book, chapter titles include “accidentally shaping who children become,” “parenting a stereotype,” “how children help create the differences we see,” and “noticing gender.”
This was a really interesting read for me, and I’d definitely recommend it! It motivated me to be more contentious of gender stereotypes I may be projecting onto my son. That said, I won’t be changing the name of this blog (Man Cub Mamas) or my Etsy shop (Cute Girl Earrings).