Are you a Girl?
Are you a Girl?
My 5-year-old son was watching intently as his grandmother started applying Mehndi (Heena) on her hands. He requested her to make a flower design and write his name on his hand. His Grandmother looked at me and I smiled, nodding my agreement.
The next day the little fellow came back from school, and while we were arranging some of his stuff in the room, he said, "Mumma, I showed my hand to my teacher." I said, "Oh that's awesome, what did she say?" He said, "She asked me, are you a girl? Mumma, can't boys apply it too?"
I felt a slight pang of annoyance for what he had to go through, but I smiled and said, "It's nothing like that, boys can apply it too. You tell your teacher that my mother doesn't believe in gender discrimination, will you?" But of course, neither did he understand the complex words, nor was he confident with the pronunciation, so he said, "Mom, I don't think I'll be able to say this, sorry." I laughed and said, no problem.
A few days back I was skimming through an article which mentioned a few similar incidences. A mother chose a cute two pony hairstyle for her son, and was told off by one of the relatives, with, "Do you want to convert him to a girl?"
These are only a few of the stupid things that people would say. For a child, relating to his/her gender is important, but we have to be careful that s/he does not develop any animosity or a strong dislike and/or disrespect for the other gender.
Hairstyles, clothes, henna etc. are not going to create gender confused adults. Curbing innocent desires just to impose age old views regarding gender is not just idiotic, it would be ineffective, rather harmful if we speak in these derogatory tones for the other gender.
People even use this kind of statements to quickly pacify kids. Sometimes, just to save time, or may be, they don't want to invest enough creativity.
If a boy cries, then along with, "Aren't you a brave boy?", people might add, "Don't cry like girls!" As if kids won't understand the concept of bravery without this insult to females. We risk creating notions in our child's head. Some will even go as far as telling a crying little girl, that she should be brave like a boy!! Parents who keep telling the world that we are raising our daughters like sons are also not uncommon. They will keep telling their daughters, “You’re not a daughter, you’re our son.”
However, if you think about it, you might never have found parents who would refer their son as a daughter or would want to bring up their sunny boy as they would have brought up their little girl. I am not saying that should be the case though and may be this referring to a daughter as a son is just a thing of affection, but if given proper thought, I think all parents would feel that we should definitely avoid this kind of expression.
Many girls, especially when there are no boys, keep referring to themselves as a boy for long durations. They might even find it difficult to associate with or even accept their identity. A friend of mine shared that she cried like hell when she got her first period. Till then she thoroughly believed that she was a boy, and she hated girls, in fact, hated being a girl. It was rather difficult for her, but she says that once she realized that she could continue with sports and all other activities “despite being a girl”, she was okay with it. She was the third daughter in the family actually. Parents preferred keeping her hair short, she was dressed in a little boy’s clothes, and not surprisingly, addressed to herself as a guy too. Thankfully her being multi talented helped her and she has done very well for herself in life. But I still hate to think about the trauma as a teenager she had to suffer, that all this “pretending to be a son her parents never had”.
Our kids deserve better than this, so, please don’t consider all this as normal and acceptable: Pinks are kind of prohibited for boys, Blue can be used by little ladies, although it is the color for the dudes. Such sheer nonsense. On the basis of gender, we want to dictate their Color choices, the way they behave, walk, talk and express their sentiments. And then we claim we want to build a society which does not have gender-bias.