So throughout the course of this semester, some of us have touched on the fact that our society tends to create a gendered environment for our children often from within the womb. It is common now to have gender reveal parties to celebrate the sex of our unborn children, and from the moment of birth our culture caters to these identities. Everything from clothes to toys for children is geared toward one sex or the other with some exceptions of unisex representation sprinkled throughout. And I’ve noticed something interesting with this that I’d like to note here from my own experience with my child.
When shopping for baby clothes, there is a clear distinction between clothes for boys and clothes for girls, with some, but not much, overlap between the two sexes. What’s interesting here is that I’ve found that there seems to be much more options for finding outfits for girls than boys. Clothes for baby girls tend to be in higher supply and have more options in terms of accessories. For example, when shopping for a traditional Easter outfit, there are countless options for girls clothes, but there are only a few options for boys. This might seem to indicate some of the significance that our society places on women in general when it comes to how they dress and represent themselves through their attire.
Now when it comes to shopping for toys, this binary is also represented. There are toys are that deemed fit for boys and toys that are for girls, even within the same category of toy. For example, leapfrog has created an interactive stuffed dog for each sex: one is named Scout and is green for boys, the other is named Violet and is purple for girls. But what I have found with buying baby toys is that there is much more overlap between the sexes as well. When it comes to toys, there are ample more options for boys as well as for unisex toys than when it comes to clothes.
I think that this is an interesting observation that says something about what our society values in terms of gender identities. It would seem that our culture expects children to appear in a manner that represents their gender, but that gender performance is not as important. While most people expect that a baby look a certain way based on their gender, they do not necessarily expect babies to perform these gender roles in their every day activities. And I think that this is a step in the right direction for our society in that we are able to recognize that no matter a child’s sex or gender, they still play and learn in the same way. Sure there are exceptions to this, as in the Scout/Violet example that I mentioned earlier, but when it comes down to it our society does not seem to place the same significance on a child’s gender when it comes to their performance as they do with their appearance.