Saturday, April 21, 2012

On Clothing Gendering

When I was pregnant with Tater, several people offered me bins of girl clothes if he was a girl.  (Obviously, not.)  As is, my  boys wear lots of trucks and bears and striped rugby shirts. (These are the least offensive options, as graffiti and commercial slogans are right out).  Plus Bug's winter hats have trucks as inducements to wear them.

I don't have any objections to my little boys wanting to wear skirts.  But I'm not going to dress them in skirts unless they ask.  Why make their lives harder on purpose, if they don't care?  Honestly, it's hard enough to get a three-year-old into weather-appropriate clothing without a screaming fit.

Sometimes I feel like I'm taking part in the socially mandated over-gendering of small children by dressing my kids in such 'boy' clothes.  On the other hand, I regularly meet awful little boys with darling sisters, whose parents have apparently decided that bad behaviour in the male sex is gender-appropriate, but girls must behave.  Maybe rugby shirts aren't the worst problem with gender stereotyping.


  1. "Maybe rugby shirts aren't the worst problem with gender stereotyping."

    I think you hit the nail on the head with that one. There are so many other things wrong with gender stereotyping at young ages (boys can play in the dirt/mud, girls wear pretty clothes and are quiet and calm, boys are good at math/science, etc.). Perhaps clothes wouldn't be such an issue if those were gone.

  2. Anonymous9:52 PM

    Yes, to both. I know there are more important things, and also? I still hate the overly gendered clothing.

    My sons sometimes wear shirts clearly designed for girls because the younger likes hearts (among other things, of course), and the older loves rabbits. Guess which gender gets hearts and rabbits on their shirts? Yeah.

  3. My boys play with baby dolls (because I hope they'll be good daddies someday), and they play tea set, and help me cook and clean. But, I hate pink. My older son loves pink. That's fine, but I still cannot buy him the pink princess shoes. My husband is much more accepting, and bought him a pink shirt, which I let him wear whenever he wanted. But sorry kid, you aren't getting glittery jeans with heart shapes from me. I don't think my boys would want to wear skirts, since they never see me wearing them...
    I am not exactly a stereotypical female, either. If something needs fixing or building at our house, I do it. Daddy is the computer man, because he likes that job. I try to stress that we both contribute to the household, and when they're a bit older, they'll contribute more too.

  4. i think -- i mean, i feel certain but have too much experience of myself to make promises -- that any future girl child of ours could and would wear about 90% of what the Bean wears now. people mistake him for a girl sometimes, although we do decide from time to time that an outfit we thought was neutral is in fact, feminine, and change it. it's not a big deal, except when people get put out at discovering he's a boy. lord, people. he's a baby. they all look alike.

    meanwhile, now that he gets quite messy at the playground and has torn the knees out of a pair or two of pants, we get clucked at if people think it's a girl we've let do those things, nothing or essentially praise if they think it's a boy.

    unrelated to all that, i do think there's something to the idea that girls are allowed to wear boy things but not the other way around because boy things are coded as basically good these days and girl things aren't. a girl who wears boy things is eccentric, but unlike a boy wearing girl things, at least she's chosen the winning team, you know?


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