Thursday, 16 September 2010

A step too far?

Until I had two boys I was very much of the nurture camp in the nurture versus nature gender argument - I had the opinion that boys and girls were genderised by society rather than innate differences. My train, car and digger loving, non sleeping, rock climbing first son has slightly changed my mind, but I still believe that while there are some differences between the average boy and the average girl, gender is on a spectrum and is pretty much influenced by society. (To that end I will be intrigued to follow the experiences of Pop, the non-gendered Swedish child.)

I haven't gone that far but I have tried to ensure that despite the number of trains and cars he owns HackneyChild also has a doll, a tea set, and so on. I have painted his nails and let him rummage through my jewellery, I read him Milly Molly Mandy as well as Thomas the Tank Engine. But my principles were faced with a big test this week in the confines of Clarks on Mare Street, and I am sorry to say they crumbled.

Charged with choosing new shoes, HackneyChild headed straight for the sparkly pink ones. "Look!" he said excitedly. "This one has a birthday cake on it!" I am ashamed to say I went: "Uh...oh look! This one has dinosaurs on it!" I just couldn't buy him the pink shoes. They were so very pink. I really wish I could.

But I don't think its just my social cowardice. I am saddened by the pinkification of girls and ASBO-ification of boys, as evidenced in the inescapable "sparkly princess"/"here comes trouble"-type slogans on clothing. It was so obvious which shoes were girly and which were for boys in that shop. I may be dreaming but I am sure when I was a little girl things were not so gendered - I remember having the same dungarees as my friend's little brother.

They didn't have the dinosaur ones in HackneyChild's size. He now has shoes with diggers on them.


Hackney_bloke said...

What a lovely post.
I often think that girls clothes look a lot nicer than boys. There is a lot more choice as well, but I don't know if I could bring myself to buy something that was obviously for a girl, so I guess I'm gender brainwashed.
It only gets worse as you get older. Men's clothes get progressively more dull whereas ladies' remain fun. Why aren't we allowed to dress up?

Sarah in deepest, darkest Lomellina said...

We have the opposite problem. It is him trying to drag me out of the girl's section. I mainly shop in Oviesse (think Tesco's clothes, but no food or other stuff). the girl's section is HUGE and colourful with a great selection for all degrees of girliness. The boys section is teeny and sludge coloured, with about 4 options.

Would it kill, in Italy of all places, to allow the small males to have a decent range of colour choice that doesn't scream "I'm a boy, you can tell by my slug coloured clothes".

I'll admit I couldn't do the pink shoes either, kids can be really cruel and too many here train their children from birth to regard female to be an insult of the highest order. All I'd acheieve would be to help others ingrain the idea in his head that being a girl is second best, thanks to the sort of attention pink shoes would attract. But I'm hacked off that any attempt to get him to adventure beyond a limited palette is hard pushed unless you have the budget to shop at baby Versace.

Babies who brunch said...

Louis ALWAYS head straight for the sparkly girls' ones! I share your feelings on all of your post. But..... I did buy him some pink snowboots earlier this year! (They were the only ones Decathlon had got; they were cheap; and I needed them.) He loved them! But would I send him to school in them? Um... no. Btw, did you see the feature in Grazia this week? ALong the Pop lines.