Today a close friend and I had a short chat about life in general. We do not have many opportunities to catch up, so when we do talk we tend to vent about society. (Yes, I know, what a shock that I would ever vent about societal norms.) We both have degrees in anthropology and an extensive background in researching human rights and gender roles within various societies.
My friend told a story about a son and father she observed at a store recently. She said the little boy wanted a water bottle that had flowers on it. The father said no and told the boy it was because the water bottle was for girls only. Of course, my friend was upset because she feels men tend to be repressed because of situations like this one. I have to agree. Gender roles are a societal constraint, not an innate necessity.
I went on to say that people who think clothing, toys, hair bows or lack thereof, and other items affect a child's genital constructs or a child's future love for another human are clearly not level headed or science minded folks. Are we really saying to our children that their brains will be harmed by playing with toys that are for children? What a ridiculous concept.
My significant other often struggles with this issue. He often feels that something is odd or not right about another person, but cannot tell me why. Usually his feelings are because of the gender roles forced on him as a child and young adult. He is very calm and patient with our children. He does not put them down for liking or not liking stereotypical boy and girl things. He encourages their interests and rarely says something to me about gender roles these days. I know it can be a struggle, but as adults we must work to encourage children to be themselves regardless of the gender roles we have been taught. In my opinion, this is the only way to raise just and kind children who are accepting of all people.