Gender stereotypes, conditioning and the loss of self expression


It was Ganesh Chaturthi yesterday and we were in the throes of all the action. After setting everything up, I left hubby dear to get the puja stuff ready while I changed into my sari and pulled out a little jewellery…a bit of a cvhange from my usual avatar 🙂

The boys watched as i draped my saree, admiring the color and design and then Sid was completely mesmerized by my jewellery box (as a bit of context, i usually wear studs in my ears and rarely wear any other jewellery). He ran his fingers over the bangles, picked up and examined the necklaces, peered curiously at the intricate work on the earrings.

“I want to wear this!” he finally declared as he pulled out a delicate gold necklace from the box. “And some bangles too!” He selected a few. Deb (hubby) came into the room and watched with a little amusement as Sid played with my necklace.  “I want to wear this” Sid explained. Deb obliged and put it around his neck and fixed the clasp. “Now the bangles” said Sid. “No” said dad. “That will be silly”…and he went back to the puja preps.

Sid sat fingering the bangles and finally decided he wated to wear them. “I love these!” he said “when i am bigger can you give these to me?”

“Sure” i replied.

He wore the bangles and looked really pleased. “Ok” I said, “why don’t you go outside and help your baba (dad) while I put this away?”

“No no” said Sid. “I can’t go out. Everyone will laugh at me and say I am a girl”

I looked at Sid, at 4 already worried about what the world would say…already torn between what he felt like doing and what social customs demanded. “Hey!” I  said, “it’s just bangles and you feel like wearing them. It’s fine. You don’t really have to worry about what anyone says as long as you are ok with what you are doing. If you are doing something bad or wrong or something that will hurt another person then you need to worry. Not otherwise.”

Sid thought about it. “but if i go out like this others will hurt me…they will say something and hurt me”

A lot of wisdom from my little fellow…and something that brought to the forefront for me how much conditioning was happening all the time…and maybe i wasn’t doing it (maybe i was?). In a world of hate crimes, terrorism, war, poverty, malnutrition…is this seriously what we spending our time drilling into our kids??? Seriously???


About myfourboysandme

Mom - a word that defines me... I smell of oats, johnson's and home baked cookies I am pink, purple, green and orange and so is the floor my kids color on. Flour on my clothes and a brush in my pocket, my glasses bent out of shape and smudged with tiny fingerprints. I can't remember the date but i know almost 40 pictures books by heart. I wake up humming 'wheels on the bus'and i talk with my fingers and eyes and mouth. My bag carries band aids, napkins, wipes, crayons, papers, candy and sometimes my wallet. I know all the parks and very few of the restaurants in my neighborhood. Most of my shopping is diapers, books and paints My phd certificate lies in a roll, the frame now contains an abstract work of art by two year olds and i am prouder of that piece of paper. mom - a word that defines me!

One response »

  1. Debu and I have in general been very chilled out with the boys…they paint their nails if they like, they have got hairbands and clips because they liked them…and I have already blogged about the pinks and purples…but still, stereotypical messages are a part of our social fabric and kids pick up on it so early. I had the same issue with Sid and the color of his skin!

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