BOYS WILL BE BOYS?



As a 'boy Mum', I've noticed such an overwhelming trend in almost anything from clothing, to books and television shows - boys are labelled as naughty. It's not even an opinion, it's a fact. Boys are completely negatively stereotyped in almost everything you see particularly when you compare them to girls which are more often than not given the 'sweet and innocent' brush. Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't all children sweet and innocent? I'm not stupid, my boys can be lary, rumbustious and adventurous but so was I when I was their age - and what on earth is wrong with that, they're children and I'd expect nothing else from them. What hurts though especially as a Mum of two incredibly soft, adoring and caring sons is that they're growing up in a world that is subliminally teaching them they're a little bit naughty and hard to handle.



If at this point you're thinking what on earth. Let's have a think to clothing slogans, now when I wander into the little girls sections which I have numerous times because A) I don't care what gender the clothes are labelled if I like something for my sons I get it and B) I of course have wondered if I'd have a daughter one day. Anyway, when I come across the t-shirts that say 'Daddys little princess' or 'Mummys angel' I think how lovely, how sweet, until I wander back into the boys and see I'm not quite greeted with the same it's more 'Mummys little monster' or 'I'm a terror' - nothing equal there and nothing even as subliminal as I thought. Shops pretty obviously brandish boys as naughty and I am not ok with that. It goes right back to poems such as 'Boys are made from slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails' where when you read 'Girls are made from sugar and spice and all things nice', it's hardly difficult to see who is getting the worse deal here. My second example, are books and television shows. I have a toddler, who like most his age is well into the likes of Bing!, Peter Rabbit, Fireman Sam etc. And until recently it completely skipped over my head that all of the 'naughty' characters are boys, Bing! never learns his lesson and is always up to something (or that god damn Pando) whereas the girls in each episode seem to be on some higher moral ground. Peter Rabbit has a sly old fox, always stealing things and generally being a pain - again he's male and Fireman Sam, yes you guessed it pyromaniac Normal - male. Shock horror, it continues as he'll grow Dora the Explora, Swiper the villian - male. Horrid Henry, always up to no good, male. The same continues into books, I vividly remember sitting in a doctors waiting room with John waiting for a scan last year, when I noticed a book called 'The Bad Sheep' I picked it up and without taking a glance inside I predicted the naughty character would be a boy, of course, I was right. If I can notice these labels and I'm not a boy myself (duh!) then I don't think it would take very long before my boys are clocking on to it too. It's unfair and it's encouraging a self fulfilling prophecy.




'So open your heart and give him a break, for it's moments like this, a man you can make.
Please keep this in mind, when you hear someone forget. He's just a little boy, not a man yet'

Lastly, I think you only have to search on social media to end up in a place where I'm gritting my teeth trying not to respond to such sexism and labelling. A few recently included 'Mums of boys, teach your sons to respect women', now of course I would be doing that, I teach my sons to respect everyone regardless of age, sex, gender, race. I felt it to be so offensive. My sons aren't even at school age and already it's assumed they're going to grow up disrespectful and rude, why aren't little girls being told to respect men? Isn't it a two way street. It's easy when you look at domestic violence facts that 89% of reported crimes are against women to assume that men don't respect us, but that is reported crimes and I'd put seriously good money that a significantly higher percentage of unreported domestic violence crimes are male victims, it comes again from Men being stereotyped as needing to be strong and not appear weak. Were as us as women and girls are portrayed as delicate little blossoms - completely untrue. Phrases such as 'Boys will be Boys', is often used in a context when a boy has acted out in some way or form, I've had it said to me recently when Noah was pretty adamant he wanted a toy in Tesco - the answer was no and he was being a bit fussy, nothing I couldn't handle. But a nosey old lady decided it was her turn to step in and in what she thought was something polite and understand, actually got my back up 'Boys will be boys' she uttered, insinuating it's only natural for my son to be causing a fuss - he is a boy after all. It took my entire strength not to turn around and yell 'Boys will be caring, considerate, helpful, understanding, loving, smart and soft - so if that's what you meant, yes boys WILL be boys'. But I decided making a scene in Tesco over ignorance wasn't worth it. I know I've grown up in a world of 'Boys don't cry' 'Boys are big and strong' 'Boys can't cook' 'Boys fight with their fists', and that's something I desperately don't want for my sons. My boys can be whoever, and whatever they want to be, I'll shield them from stereotypes as much as I can and whenever someone tarnishes them with a brush, I'll be right there to wipe the smear away. As long as my sons are hurting nobody, I am happy.




22 comments :

  1. I hate stereotyping boys and girls, and I agree it is mainly so negative! Great post, couldn't agree more! Katie x

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  2. I dont have boys, but I do have nephews and brothers and I hate it quite rightly so stereotypical butt holes (excuse my language) I like you buy Leanora things, I can tell you when she is ready she is not a princess or angel, but a toddler just exercising and testing limits. Love this post and totally support you on it xx

    Lindsey
    www.londonmumma.com

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  3. Great post as usual Em! I can remember being just as robust as my brothers - I certainly gave them a good run against their stereotypes! I definitely think it gets worse as they get older. Baby clothes are usually okay but once they're into the older clothes the slogans start getting negative. My mum always said girls were much worse than boys anyway, haha!

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  4. Great post and so true.
    Looking at it from a mum with a daughter's point of view, there are SO MANY negative stereotypes, on both sides. Yes, girls are stereotyped as 'good', 'angels' and 'princesses' but what about the adventurous, technically minded, high achieving girls? Where are the girl pirates, the girls climbing trees, the girls who don't want to just be kissed, marry their handsome prince?! I must admit, it is bring much more balanced these days, but it makes me sad that such stereotyping (often wildly inaccurate!) exists today.

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  5. Also, this made me think of a recent discussion I had in school with a group of 7 year olds about gender stereotypes in books. Overwhelmingly, the books seen as being 'for boys' were seen as fun, exciting and cool to read, with strong and brave main characters. The girls were proud to say they loved the 'boys' books. However, those seen as 'girls' books (fairy/princess etc) were seen as embarrassing. So sad that both boys and girls are being confined and defined by these stereotypes.

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  6. As a mum of both boys and a girl, I think my daughter is worse than my eldest son when it comes to being rough and a little violent, she's much more adventurous too. Stereotypes are ridiculous x

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  7. I think the stereotype is so ingrained in some people that it's hard to break it. My sister in law was adamant that she would bring her little girl up to enjoy gender neutral toys and not give in to the stereotype. Yet no matter how hard she tried she has still turned out the complete opposite to what she was teaching her. She even once told her Mum that she couldn't manage without her dad around to help her. I think that shows just how deep the stereotypes are in society.

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  8. Some really good points here. I'm a mum to girls and I remember getting quite angry about the fact that were was a 'future genius' t-shirt in the boys section of a particular big retailer shop and yet in the girls' section was a t-shirt that read 'pretty like mummy'. Stereotypes that are forced upon children wind me up no end.

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

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  9. What an interesting post! I have a girl so seeing this perspective from the opposite side of the coin was just something I hadn't really thought about. I sometimes think of the difficult stereotypes for girls (beauty, skinny, princess), but you're right there are so many stereotypes for boys as well. Thanks for posting!

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  10. I get what you mean. I have a girl and a boy and I also avoid stereotypes. But at the same time, when my daughter loved princesses, I didn't tell her it was wrong. I thought it was great. But if my son liked princesses too, that would have also been okay. We're just an open family. Whatever is comfortable for you. I also teach them respect.

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  11. Wow I never really noticed until you pointed it out about kids characters, that boys are the naughty ones. That is really unfair and not right, thanks for sharing.

    P.S: How cute are those matching tops!

    Lennae xxx
    www.lennasworld.com

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  12. Great points here. I think boys are labeled a lot. Men get a bad rap often. You have 2 sweet boys there and don't let the world get you down. Your boys are great.

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  13. I am a mom to 3 girls then lastly 1 boy. It is a complete change. Everyday with him with his behavior, attitude and personality is different. He gets the excuse of he's a boy because it's what I'm not used to. I let him lead the way. He plays with his sisters, he sees what they do. He likes what he likes and I focus on teaching him the right way. The safe and legal way. The polite way.

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  14. I totally endorse what you are saying and its sad that people making these labels and tv shows automatically class boys in the "naughty" section. It should be 50-50. I know neither of that defines who they are but at least they should have some kind thoughts. I think all babies are equally adorable anyways.

    www.travelbeautyblog.com

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  15. I understand that we shouldn't stereotype, its aweful.

    All babies are adorable, we shouldn't let them feed bad impressions.

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  16. You have two of the cutest little boys! You must be a proud momma. Steryotyping should be banned

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  17. You are absolutely right. When my son was little, I wished that I knew how to design clothes for him that were more inspiring and more versatile. I didn't think about the characters on tv shows. Hmm

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  18. Not yet a mother but I am looking forward to this phase. You have cute lil boys!

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  19. Yes stereotypes are the worse I have son who is 17 now, you brought some great points.

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  20. Definitely a grey area. As the industry ahs marketed this view it would suggest that most people think this way. Which I think is far from true. Though buys and girls are different, they are NOT place in simple categories of "Naughty" or "Nice". Thanks for sharing.

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  21. See I have a boy and a girl, and honestly they are so stereotypical it hurts 🙈. Indie had always been calm and played nicely. Whereas Parker has always been a little monkey, always getting into mischief. Id be so intrigued to see how a 3rd would be xx

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  22. It seems to me that the retail industry plays into these stereotypes. I'm not entirely sure how they were started, but I believe the whole naughty/nice thing is just an extension of the the idea that girls are dainty/princess like boys are more rough.

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