Bag-gate has been resolved. Daughter one came up trumps with a blue Adidas bag. Not only has it got the requisite branding, but it is only son’s favourite colour [despite all arguments against gender stereotypes] and it is very big and fits every single copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid he’s got [handed down from daughter two who has swapped it of late for War and Peace and the like in a bit of a turnaround for her literary tastes].
I’ve been reading a novel to only son which is against gender stereotypes. Its main character is a girl who loves coding whose granny is a scientist. I’m not sure if the messages are getting through to only son as he tends to be colouring while I’m reading. Who knows, but it’s worth a try. His sisters will keep him on the straight and narrow in any event.
I came across something daughter one had written about the objectification of women a while ago. The thing that pulled me up short was that it was so similar to things I had written at the exact same age – about being treated as a thing rather than a person. Has anything changed really? It’s hard to pontificate about how women should be more confident when so much of what they see and experience makes them feel like nothing. Daughter three came home the other day in tears saying she is ugly and asking why does every part of her have to be judged.
“Will you treat women as equals?” daughter one asked only son the other day. Only son said he definitely would, but maybe not daughter two, his arch nemesis. He was first in line with teddy bears and support for daughter three. Only son, who had earlier in the day called out a boy who told him he was “the colour of poo”, could not believe his beautiful sister would even consider for a nano-second that she was ugly.
It’s difficult to see how things will play out in the next decade or so for gender equality. On the one hand there is a huge drive for greater equality. On the other, the world is more and more divided into stereotypes of blue and pink, porn is rife from an early age with many boys thinking what they see on their phones is the norm and every day seems to bring more rape threats on social media and the like. This is what happens when you aggressively market and accentuate supposed differences between the genders. It’s just one more way to divide us up and pitch us all against each other.
I would like to think that males and females are not so different. Only son loves to be cuddled, just like daughters one, two and three did, perhaps even more so. He wants to be treated fairly, just like his sisters. He knows his rights, perhaps too much, but it’s useful if you are the fourth child. He likes it when he does something well and people appreciate it. He understands that caring goes both ways. He doesn’t like people laughing at him or treating him with disrespect. In short, he likes to be treated as a person of equal worth to anyone else. It shouldn’t be a difficult thing to get your head round.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.