As a mother of a boy and a girl, I was very conscious about not imposing social gender norms and stereotypes on my children. But I am admitting to have faltered a few times because just like everyone else, sometimes my social conditioning came in the way.
We often talk of gender equality as a women’s issue and something that needs to be addressed in big forums. Gender equality affects both our boys and girls, hence being in awareness and working towards changing this gendered narrative in our homes consciously is the only way.
Given below are some insights from my counselling journey which reiterates the fact that gender inequality indeed begins at home.
“ I feel inferior in comparison to my brother and restricted at home, because of my gender. My brother studies in Europe and was sent off with a lot of pomp and show……. but I am just waiting to get married as my family thinks that’s best for me. I don’t have to be the bread winner and don’t need to work hard or stress my self with further studies!
” Oh , My childhood – I was expected to sit , talk, act, behave, and express myself with poise and asked to keep my voice down since I was I think eight years old. Since then , I was to told every day that a girls’ value and worth lies in how she looks, how well behaved they are and how well can build a peaceful home and learn domestic work skills”
“My brother and me were both both ambitious and good at studies. But by the time he was 14, I could see the expectation started mounting on him about his professional success. As an elder brother he was responsible for paying the expenses of my marriage”
“It was not only me, but we both were victims of cultural gender norms and gender roles, which affected our adult lives in different ways. It’s a common misconception that gender stereotypes affect only girls”
“I took psychology in college and I remember all hell broke lose in my family and relatives. “Why not , at least take commerce if not science” was what I heard for a very long time from my most loved ones, only because I am a boy”.
“ I feel it’s stereotype that everyone keeps repeating again and again, Girls are more caring for their parents , I am a good son who cares equally for my parents” .
See below some of gender in-equal phrases used in our homes that together build a narrative which I think is the root cause of growing gender gap.
- Tough boys and caring girls!
- Boy things , Girl Things!
- Girls are vulnerable, and boys are strong!
- Boys are trouble!
- Don’t cry like a girl!
- Why are you in the kitchen, this isn’t your place!( for boys)
- Guests have come, come and help me in the kitchen ( for girls)
- You are a boy, you have to provide for your family tomorrow!
- Boys have to be strong to take care of their families, they can’t show weakness!
- Boys are so much less drama than girls , don’t be a drama queen again sister!
- I am looking for a gift for a boy , no no not a doll … no no can’t be pink … no no this book doesn’t have a boy protagonist!
- Boys are supposed to be good at Math.
- You are such a bossy girl, learn to adjust, it will be up to you to keep everyone happy in your new home.
- You are growing so tall, how will we find you a husband?
- Shhhhh, girls should act like a girls , speak softly , sit properly , you are too loud!
- And many many more………..
This says it all ! Doesn’t it ?
The seeds of inequality are planted in our homes and both our boys and girls are getting affected negatively. And the hence, solution lies in making our parenting gender-equal.
Let’s start by being more mindful of not projecting our biases and parent with enforcing stereotypes !
Let’s use more gender neutral language at homes with our children,
Let’s be conscious of the gender roles are we are modelling at home
Let’s stop pressurising our boys and limiting our girls!
” Stereotyping affects both boys and girls” & “Gender Stereotypes do start at home“
Just Leaving it here !
Looking forward to working with this world to bring the change continuing the work of killing Stereotypes forever….. because they effect both our boys and girls equally !
So Are you with me?
( this article is also published in Times of India E-Times – 31st March under parenting section )