an early start to gender stereotyping

Recently Scarlett has been playing ‘getting married’ and being the only male willing to follow orders in the house, she enlists her father as her groom. One time he was busy so I told her I could marry her. She said I couldn’t because I am not a man and only men and women could get married. I tried to explain to her that (while not legal just yet) two women could get married if they wanted to. Later that same day she told me she was going to marry two girls!

This morning when I dropped Scarlett off at day care, there were three boys playing in the room already.  For some reason, the topic of conversation turned to what they want to be when they grow up. One boy said he was going to be a rescue worker or a fireman (which he told me could be a very dangerous job) and another boy told me he was going to be a V8 driver and a rally car driver (and others along the same theme).

When I asked them if they knew what Scarlett wanted to be one of them said “a princess”. She said she wanted to be a doctor, and the toothy fairy and a mummy. To this another little boy replied “you could be a nurse”. I was quite amazed that children of 3/4 years old already have a sense of such things. It’s scary.


4 thoughts on “an early start to gender stereotyping

  1. It's scary and eerie at the same time. The vast majority of kids are distinctly masculine and feminie.It always amused me to see Sapph as a toddler gently reaching out to look at flowers and leaves whilst her boy cousin would grab a stick and beat the living crap out of the same bush!

  2. Wow! We've been hearing Tiernan say lots of things like, "you can't do that Molly, because you're a girl." Weve been pulling him up on it, but I've been wondering where on earth he's getting it from – preschool?

  3. The whole thing makes me want to cry (or scream)…but I take comfort in the fact that kids are, in Cordelia Fine's words, 'gender detectives'. They don't know what it is exactly, but they sure know it's important (wow, this whole girl/boy thing seems to determine everything. Hmm.) and so they're constantly looking for clues about it. And of course, finding them everywhere. They do (kinda) grow out of this basic obsession with what girls and boys can/can't do. Or so I'm hoping…otherwise, I probably will cry. For, like, twenty years, until they've left home and I don't have to listen to it anymore!

  4. I hope they grow out of it! When I hear some of the things Scarlett says – a child raised in a somewhat progressive household – I wonder what must come out of some other kids' mouths. Then I wonder if maybe she is just testing me.

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