13
Feb
14

“A boy named Lyric” – gender stereotypes suck!

Gender may seem like an odd thing for me to write about in this blog, but it’s important. Confidence, experience, career, income, life choices – these all are contributors to attitude and ability to be self-sufficient. Inequality in pay, income, education and benefits often contributes to women staying in bad relationships and not having freedom of choice in their lives. Since I try to write about empowerment and evolution in my life, the gender issue really applies in how I got here, where I’m going, how long it will take me and how much I’ll be paid. Thus, I’m writing about it.

Gender has been on my radar this morning. First, I had an unexpected interaction with a cop prior to my morning coffee today. One is generally a bit interested and concerned to see a cop outside their house at 6:30 in the morning – I stuck my head out the door as my guy was heading to work. He & the cop exchanged “good mornings” and my fella got in his car. The cop said “don’t you want to know what’s going on?” My guy said “nope” and left. I came out right after and the cop praised me for my interest (there was an armed robbery nearby and the suspect seen in my neighborhood.) The officer then asked who “that guy” was and proceeded to tell me how irritated he was that he didn’t care why there was a cop at the foot of our driveway. He asked how long we’ve been dating. He said “you can do better. He’s not good enough for you.” I made excuses like I was some sort of abuse victim and Officer Friendly opined that he couldn’t believe that a man would leave his home and his woman with a cop outside without knowing what was going on. He said “what kind of man does that?” I eventually went into the house and copper once again shouted “he’s not good enough for you! You have my vote!” It wasn’t until after I’d had some coffee and a moment to think about it that I realized how sexist this exchange was. I had treated it in a jokey, flirty manner, but my guy summed it up best by answering the “what kind of man does that” question: “The kind of man who knows you have it under control and can take care of yourself. I had to get to work & didn’t have time to chit-chat. Besides – you were perfectly safe – there was a COP there!” Heck yeah!

After that bit of weirdness, I sat down at my computer to read that Soliel Moonfrye has had a third child. A boy named Lyric. That’s how Bing promoted the article too. “A boy named Lyric.” So what? She likes non-traditional names. Who decided that “Apple” and “Lyric” were feminine and “Ryder” and “Sage” were masculine? For that matter, who decided that pink is for girls and blue is for boys and why are we continuing to buy into this freakish gender binary?

As I was contemplating on that subject, two separate friends posted this article on Facebook about the 1981 LEGO ad girl and how gender neutrality has actually gotten worse in the past 33 years:

http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/little-girl-1981-lego-ad-grown-shes-got-something-say/

Well, crap. My friends know that gender issues are a huge hot button for me. I imagine that my children might be aware of this as well. When my oldest was a little guy at the McDonalds play-place, they would often ask if I wanted a “boy toy or girl toy” – I used to emphatically state that my SON would like the BARBIE. They still do this today, yet it shows up on the receipt as “DOLL TOY” or “CAR TOY” – secret gender code for male/female I guess. Would it kill them to ask if you want the doll or the car? Or “would you like the Angry Bird toy or the Bratz doll?” Easier still? A 6-piece gender-neutral mini Lego set. A notebook. An invisible ink pen. A magnifying glass. Something that allows for creativity & expression without pigeonholing kids into societal roles. The LEGO ad girl is right – it’s gotten WORSE – at least from my viewpoint. I currently work with one kid who is so deeply mired in gender stereotyping that they actually get stressed at the notion of a boy with long hair or a girl wearing a football jersey.

Last Christmas, when one of my siblings was expecting a baby and did not yet know the gender, I wanted to get some gender neutral baby clothes. I was seriously unable to walk into a retail store and find just PLAIN STUFF to purchase. Ninety percent of the clothes that I saw were blue & covered in footballs or pink & covered in ballerinas and completely divided into gender categories.

As a parent, woman & educator, this worries me. But here’s an interesting sub-plot that I just have observed using very limited data: the LEGO ad girl doesn’t have kids. The two people who shared this article don’t have kids. Are the people who are most concerned about this issue childless folks? Is it possible that we parents are simply ashamed to admit that we are constantly losing the battle of the pink and that sometimes it’s easier to give in than fight?

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