Today I was invited to give a talk to primary school children on sexism and gender stereotype, something that I think about a lot. I grew up in India and fought gender stereotypes and prejudices all through the way. We were very fortunate to have parents who supported us and never told us what a girl can’t or shouldn’t do. But there’s always a lot of societal pressure. And the messages sometimes get through making us believe that we have to be a certain way, or make us feel guilty if we can’t conform to a specific stereotype or expectation. I struggled constantly aligning my life between what was expected of me, how I ought to be and how I really am. So, girls shouldn’t be so ambitious or hot-headed. Girls should be gentle and soft-spoken. This is what I was often told. They are the ones responsible for the family, they are the home-makers and even though you can work and have a career, you never ever should compromise on these things. So one of my aunts would tell me stories of her own daughter very proudly that she would spend a long day in her hospital as she was a doctor, but then also came home and cooked and was a wonderful daughter-in-law and wife, whatever that is supposed to be! The subliminal messages that boys are supposed to be strong, they don’t cry or show emotions affects men and their mental health, and in fact a lot of their adult relationships later in life. .
I could go on and on about it. I am being so careful of what I say to my own daughters, and what I don’t say. Do we sometimes, unintentionally conform to these stereotypes ourselves? And then there is also the reverse stereotype. For instance, my twins have been spending a lot of time playing with their teddy bears and putting them to bed, even though they have tonnes of gender-neutral toys and it started to upset me quite a bit yesterday. I started worrying whether I am giving out any sexist messages myself or whether they are learning this at nursery. But in the end I suppose it is also about choice, isn’t it? .
What are your thoughts?
#raisinggirls #sexismsucks #genderneutralkids #motherhoodrising #mumsofinstagram #genderfree #motherhoodunplugged