Gender stereotypes


I was at the doctors as Baby girl ย was having her second lot of immunisations. I had taken Finlay with me and as I was waiting to speak to reception he had decided to put on some of my tinted pink Vaseline. Not just a bit, quite a lot and he had some very pink pouty lips. I had told him that he could put a bit on, so I just laughed and said, maybe not so much next time. As I was strapping a not very happy Baby girl back into her car seat I hear a women behind me say,
“What on earth have you done to yourself?, he’s got pink lipstick on, do you think that’s a good idea?” Her tone was rather annoying, it wasn’t just what she said it was the way she said it. Now she’s lucky that she caught me on a good day. I took a deep breath and just said “It’s only a bit of tinted Vaseline”. So not getting the response she wanted she then went on to have a further dig. Saying “You’re a very pretty boy now, are you going to wear a pretty skirt to go with your girl lips?, are you a girl or a boy?” I’m seeing red now, but still not rising. I ignore her and say to Finlay who is now hiding his head in his hands “it’s ok”. I’m still trying to get baby girl in her car seat. The women then says “He won’t even dare to look at me now”. My response, “I’m not surprised”. I’m finally ready so Finlay goes to the door, she looks at me and says in her condescending tone, “He’s gone outside you know? are you ok with that?!” Seething now! I reply “He won’t have gone outside he will be at the door”. I get to the door and he’s waiting holding it open for me so I very loudly say, “Thanks Finlay for holding the door”. As soon as we are outside I say to him to ignore the horrible woman, it was only pink Vaseline and if he wants to put it on he can. He says sorry for doing it which makes me annoyed! So I reassure him that he doesn’t need to be sorry he had done nothing wrong.

Driving home, rather annoyed it got me thinking about gender stereotypes. It also got me thinking about why people think they have the right to pass comment, but I will save that for another post!

I’m raising two boys and for a while they only had me for the majority of the time. They have seen me paint my nails and do my make up and they have both been interested in it. Yes they have put make up on and yes I have painted their nails (toes) I don’t encourage it or discourage it. I think it’s only natural that they are interested in what they see. My seven year old would never do it now and my four year old still shows interest. My first boy wanted a doll and a pram to play with, so I got him one. He had just had a baby brother and was watching me care for him and would copy. Growing up I had toy cars and a tool kit, so I don’t really see why it’s such a big deal when it is the other way around. I’m increasingly noticing how gender divided toys are and how even toys that are considered neutral will now have a pink and a blue version. I don’t see the need for it. If I was getting Baby girl a toy garage and cars, they don’t need to be pink. In fact I would try and not buy the pink version. I’m sure Baby girl will play with her brothers super heroes and footballs and nothing will be said.

The lady earlier was obviously in her comment “Do you think it’s a good idea?”, suggesting that by me letting him as a boy put Vaseline on, I was encouraging him to be girly and maybe she was suggesting that it could make him gay. I really don’t think that a tiny bit of pink Vaseline is going to change the course of his life. He is what he is and I will love him regardless, even if he decides he wants to wear pink Vaseline every day.

There is a huge problem is society with gender stereotyping, I feel particularly with boys. Gender division of toys in shops recently hit the headlines and I was really pleased to see that some shops are responding and taking down gender specific signs. Let toys be toys is the voice behind this. They have some really interesting information on their site about the importance of children playing with a variety of toys and why play is important. Having a Psychology degree I know how important this all is.

It really angers me that the media/society is telling girls and boys what they should and shouldn’t like. Producing gender stereotypes, restricting their choices and providing a fertile ground for bullying. The gender stereotypes they are based on are old fashioned and outdated. Like the lady earlier. I don’t want to restrict my children, my boys or my girl. I want them to have all theย experiences so they can find out for themselves what it is they like and excel at. If my little boy wants to wear pink Vaseline he should be able to do it without judgement or passing comments from others!

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51 responses to “Gender stereotypes”

  1. The L's Mum says:

    Great post, and what an awful lady to say such a thing. I mean sometimes you will get the odd person who passes comment, but given the explanation you would have though that would have been the end of it. No excuse. It’s a shame we live in a world where there is a certain need to conform into being a certain way. You did the right thing by not rising to her, I on the other hand would have probably gone mental and made the situation a whole lot worse. #MummyMonday

    • admin says:

      Thanks, I think the only reason I was so calm was because I was so shocked! x

  2. What horrible and unnecessary comments to say, especially to a child! I completely agree with you, I have a little boy who plays with what he likes, he’s too young to ask for certain things but I try and buy things he seems to have an interest in, such a shopping trolley then got the comment ‘oh look you can go shopping like a girl’ which baffled me as I see plenty of men and women out shopping! Xx

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      My boys have a shopping trolley too, I wouldn’t say it was a girls toy, how strange. Thanks for your comment. x

  3. EmmaH says:

    Argh I’m annoyed for you!! My little boy asks me to put pink nail varnish on him and wants me to put a bit of my makeup on him when I’m getting ready and my husband doesn’t like it, but he’s 3 – it doesn’t mean anything to him, he just wants to be grown up and do things like mummy. At such a young age it’s got nothing to do with sexuality, but if my son is gay I would rather be the kind of mum that let’s him be who he is and not tell him what boys can and can’t do!
    PS my son got the same PJs for Christmas – so cute! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I love those pj’s they are cute. Exactly my point, totally agree, they are just copying Mummy it doesn’t mean anything. Like you I would rather be a Mum they could come to x

  4. EmmaH says:

    PPS #mummymonday

  5. martyn says:

    This is one of my biggest peeves!! If society didn’t single out gender stereotypes amongst children we wouldn’t be half as critical to one another! I have never understood how people feel the need to make judgement let alone comment on it as well!

    As a dad of boys, my youngest is very feminine in play and attitude. I often get comments on “why are you letting him push a pink buggy with a baby in it”

    I actually did a blog post on it.

    What I have never fully understood it 150 years ago boys were always dressed in pink and girls in blue. For at the time it was deemed to represent different aspects. It’s sad how even now that we have still the same stereotypes that we had then even if the colours have swapped.

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Good to see a Dad with the same views, love that he has a pink buggy! thanks for the comment and I will go and have a read of yours ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  6. Louise says:

    Brilliant, thought-provoking post. I’m seething on your behalf – why do some adults think it is acceptable to be so rude and horrible to a child? Well done you for remaining so calm. We need to just let our children be children after all – nothing wrong with a bit of pink Vaseline and toys are just toys. I have two girls who love dollies and tea parties but also love cars and trains. I just love watching them use their imagination with whatever they choose to play with.

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ I have no idea why they think they can pass comment, its not something I would do. I love watching my boys imagination too, whatever toys they are playing with x

  7. Amber says:

    Looking like a girl – what a dreadful offense! You’d just better hope that he hasn’t caught the gay from your lipbalm. THEN you’d have been sorry.

    Seriously though, thank you for writing this post. I’m sorry that a) that woman thought such things and b) she had the audacity to vocalise them to a child and his parents! Why on EARTH would she think that was okay?!

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I have no idea! I really don’t know what was wrong with her, she had obviously caught the total moron attitude from somewhere.. Lol at the gay lipbalm x

  8. El and Baby A says:

    What an ignorant woman! Good on you keeping your cool, I was calling her all sorts of names and I only had to read it xx

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I called her names when telling my oh about it ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  9. Alice Young says:

    Really love this post and glad to have read it. I think gender stereotypes is a really interesting and stimulating topic for conversation. I would not have been nearly half as calm as you in that situation but well done! Girls and boys should be able to play with whatever they want and not be subject to gender discrimination and the same goes for putting a bit of Vaseline on!! Thanks for linking up and really enjoyed your post! #mummymonday

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Thanks, yes they should it’s such a shame x

  10. I think that some people just like to get their opinions voiced as the only opinions that matter. I think many people nowadays are quite selfish and believe that what they say is the only way to do things. I also think that we live in a society where many feel the absolute need to criticise others and to complain no matter what. Silly woman. This has made me feel quite mad that you were put in this situation. You did well holding your tongue! My son wears nail varnish and my daughter loves playing with cars. I just want them to be happy and enjoy life not have to fit into ‘rules’ and gender stereotypes that should have been banished years ago! #MummyMonday

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I think she was the kind of person who always gets involved, she wasn’t shy about voicing her opinions. Glad my boys not the only one partial to a bit of nail polish ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  11. Anna Moore says:

    Well said! I bought Sophie a blue & turquoise dinosaur jumper the other day and spent 5 minutes trying to decide whether it was stupid to buy her a ‘boy’s’ jumper then thought its just a jumper with dinosaurs – why shouldn’t she wear it! I LOVE dinosaurs!

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I’ve done this before, I put Ava in a navy top and navy and white stripy leggings then wondered if she looked like a boy! Ps I love dinosaurs too x

  12. I agree with you 100% hon and am completely outraged that that woman felt she had the right to pass comment at all, and especially in such a negative way! I have always hated gender stereotypes but have become so much more aware of the affect they have on children since becoming a mum. Toys are the worst, when you see 2 medical kits, a red and blue one for boys, called a Drs set, and a pink version aimed at girls called a nurses set, makes me so angry! Great post and thanks for linking with #MaternityMondays xx

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Oh yeah that annoys me, why is the doctors set blue and nurses pink? X

  13. Kaye says:

    How awful, I would’ve been angry to! I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently as my son is really interested when I do my hair and make-up, I believe children are children and they should be able to express themselves without having to feel judged.

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I think it’s only natural that they are interested. They see their mummy doing it and to them it probably looks like fun x

  14. MummyWrites says:

    Oooooo this certainly is a brilliant blog post, but it makes me so annoyed that you had to put up with that silly woman. I’m not sure I would’ve been so patient. Well done and I hope venting on here has helped.

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Thanks, it did help! Wish I had said how stupid she was being to her! X

  15. anna busby says:

    i love this post had a chat with you on twitter re this post so many opinionated narrow minded people out there x #mummymonday

  16. What a great post and what a mean old lady too! Geez, gender stereotype is everywhere isn’t it? Personally I think its a load of crock! Lets kids be kids and play with toys, regardless of the colour! x

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Thanks, yes it is, I’m glad something is being done about some of it x

  17. Gemma Louise says:

    I totally agree with this post in so many ways, my son used to have a baby born doll and a peppa pig pushchair when he was like 2. I got moaned at the time by all the males in his life – but I told them to stuff themselves. Corey liked it and nothing wrong with it. He likes the colour pink too. But at the moment he says “I don’t like pink, that’s for girls” as his uncle has been teaching him that. Safe to say I have a few words to say to him. Its all toys, who cares what they are if the kid is happy and playing!

    thankyou for joining in on #mummymonday – love Gemma (host) xo


    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I do wonder what they would be like if they didn’t have the gender stereotypes around them. Finlay doesn’t do stuff because his big brother says it’s for girls x

  18. Sophie says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this post! People really should keep their opinions to themselves and I’m so shocked that someone was brave enough to even comment.. You did well to stay calm, I’m not sure she would have got the same response from me! Xxx

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      I don’t know how I didn’t snap, I would have usually, just think I was so shocked and was more worried about reassuring Finlay x

  19. What an appalling woman! How dare she say anything like that, some people are just plain rude!
    My daughter is only 13 months but she is allowed to play with what she wants (within reason) and although I am a sucker for pink things… It is my fave colour, I make sure she has a mix of toys of all different colours and styles to play with And as she gets older whatever she shows an interest in we will support.
    I think its awful that that woman felt it necessary to say anything at all. I wouldn’t have stayed as calm as you did! I hope your little boy forgets all about that horrible woman and wears your pink Vaseline whenever he wants to!

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Thank you, yes I love pink too! I think he’s forgotten all about her, he was putting lip balm on again today ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  20. Murkrow says:

    “Do you think it’s a good idea?”

    …what, that your son is taking care of his body and moisturising his lips so they don’t get cracked in the harsh January weather? Yes. It’s a very good idea. Well done that boy.

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Brilliant response, I should have said that ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  21. Jenny says:

    Wow you are one calm lady I would have had words with her good day or bad day. What right do people have thinking they can comment, judge or say rude things in general anyways. I hate that. I wish people actually could hear themselves sometimes I bet they would be mortified at themselves even. Even if he had a tutu on because he wanted to wear it and it was redlipstick instead of tinted vaseline who cares? He is little and is just having fun. She clearly needs to get a life. Bless you for being the bigger person i wouldn’t have been. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    • MummyandMonkeys says:

      Thanks, I really don’t know what is wrong with some people. Don’t think he would wear a tutu but that would have been funny if he was, she would have had a fit! X

  22. What a hideous woman. You did so well to keep as calm as you did! I completely agree with you on everything – your boys only copy what they see, which is completely normal learning behaviour and doesn’t need to be discouraged in any way.
    I’m raising a toddler boy in Italy and I find I’m battling against gender stereotypes on an almost daily basis as Italian society is still very patriarchal and traditional. He constantly sees things that I don’t think are healthy and that I fear will contribute to him feeling pressured to “be” a certain way. Luckily we have a great open-minded nursery so I’m hoping that between them and ourselves, we can offset all the crap about how boys shouldn’t have dolls, blah blah blah!

  23. Amanda says:

    What a total cowbag! I don’t know how you stayed so composed, I’d have flipped out on the ignorant woman. I have twin boys and they couldn’t give two hoots about gender specific items, I hate that narrow minded idiots have the power to make any child feel their choices are in any way wrong.

  24. My son has got long hair. Till his waist. And I get this comment as well from other people who tells me that he might turn gay if I let the hair stay that long. I have personal reason why his hair is this long. Sometimes people comment this in front of my son and he would ask me if he is a boy or a girl. The comments of course is affecting him.

    I just wish that people will leave us alone and let my son be what he is. His hair is not a gauge of his sexuality. =(

    #sharewithme / #Brillblogposts

  25. What a nasty woman! What right did she have to pass comment on your son!? Well done for not rising to it although it’s very hard sometimes isn’t it.

    I think it’s a shame the media etc gender stereotype as well, if my son goes to his little girl friends houses he plays with their “girly” toys just as much as when they come to his house and play with his “boys” toys. What does it matter, it’s a toy!

  26. Helen F says:

    I totally agree with this post! For some reason girls are ‘allowed’ to play with traditional boy toys but boys can’t touch girly toys because it isn’t masculine to do so. Ridiculous! Maybe this is why so many men are misogynistic – they have been brought up being told that girls’ things aren’t for boys and no doubt thinking they are better than girls as a result.

  27. HonestMum says:

    This makes me cross, back seat parents I call it and how ridiculous-my boys wear bright clothes, enjoy painting my nails with polish, stroke my hair, love Tinkerbell as much as Thomas and are well rounded boys who are open to everything. I won’t let the media or society dictate what they should, do, think or wear. I’m so sorry you had this experience. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

  28. Lovely post; I don’t know how you didn’t snap. My son has a pram, admittedly its blue, but thats generally because I hate the tacky pink., and people look at him funny. I don’t see why, he’s being like Daddy. And spends all day with me, naturally I’m his role model and he wants to copy me, he knows what mascara is, he loves to bake and cook in the kitchen and clean (check me out being the perfect 50s housewife baking and cleaning whilst wearing mascara!) they are not “boy” things but they are my “son things” and as long as he is smiling and happy I don’t care.

    People are narrowminded and you did well to focus directly on Finlay, well done!!

  29. Emily says:

    This has made me so mad! I would have seen red and probably opened my mouth launching a tirade in her direction! You handled it well. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

  30. Tim says:

    Gender stereotyping is, frankly, ridiculous. Our oldest boy adored all things pink for two years and it was a key part of what made his perssonality so distinctive. We neither encouraged nor discouragged him, but tried to let him choose his own path. One day (just before his fourth birthday) he came home and suddenly declared that pink was a girl’s colour and he no longer liked it. Just like that, overnight. I was gutted. – not because he had changed his mind (he’s entitled to do that) but because it was fairly obvious someone had said something to him. Maybe he would have grown out of it on his own, but it should have been his decision to make at a time of his choosing, and not imposed on him.

  31. I feel sorry and slightly anxious for any child that’s exploring their world and goes near that woman. you did well to keep cool and I agree that kids should be allowed to explore their worlds and make their life choices.wl xx

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