The Pink Moustache – Breaking the Gender Stereotype from Childhood
From ages, people say, “Blue is for boys and pink is for girls.” If you ask me, I put it in the list of senseless prejudices prevalent. Yesterday, my 4-year-old son’s friend made fun of him as he was having a pink bottle. He said, ‘Are you a girl? Why are you having a pink bottle, like a girl?’ My son made my collar high by answering, ‘Colours are for everyone.’ His answer had a reason behind it. My son and I watch the sunset almost daily. I tell him that there is pink colour, blue, yellow, red, orange and so many other colours. God painted the sky for all of us. He didn’t say that you are a girl, you cannot watch blue and a boy cannot like pink. All colours are for everyone.
Children are like a clean slate. We, as parents, are trying to instil a thought process in him free from such taboos. I am trying to inculcate a few habits right from this tender age. Like, ‘Never hit a girl. You don’t have to show your strength by hitting or pushing a girl.’ A few days later, while playing, my son said to me, ‘We should never hit a girl because girls are weak, they get hurt easily, right?’ I asked, ‘Who told you this?’ He named one of his classmates. (Another gender stereotype). I responded, ‘No, it’s not true at all. How would you feel if someone calls me weak and hits me someday?’ He answered, ‘Very bad and I will be katti with that person.’ I added, ‘I will also feel bad if you call any girl weak. Am I weak?’ In a very high tone, he replied, ‘You are the strongest.’ We, as family, put in serious efforts to give our son an environment free from prejudices but somehow or the other, these Stone Age thoughts keep creeping in.
I have often heard that if a boy cries, he is called a girl because crying is a girl’s copyright. On one of our shopping sprees, we saw a boy crying because he got hurt and other kids (including the girls) present there were teasing and saying that, ‘Ladki ki tarah kyu ro raha hai?’ That night we were watching a movie and my son said, ‘He cannot be the hero of the movie, he is crying. Papa is my hero, he never cries’. My husband overheard and he came crying, acting that he got a foot injury. And, my son was left with no words. Yet again, we redefined the definition of ‘a man’.
Compassion and tenderness don’t suit boys – the advice I often get from my so-called friends as I don’t follow the canonical connotations of raising a boy. I taught my son not to laugh when someone gets hurt. Therefore, he ends up fighting with his peers when they laugh on his wounds. Two rules that parents teach their boys – first, never accept that you get hurt and second, even if you feel the pain, you must not cry. I fail to understand how pain can also have gender reservation!
Like any other evening, that evening too, my son was calling me to join him in his game. My aunt was with us. She immediately reacted, ‘Your mother is cooking, let her cook, call your Papa to play with you. ‘Ladke, ladko ke saath khelte hai aur Mom khana banati hai. Ladkiya sirf kaam karti hai’. But my son wasn’t able to understand and agree to her theory because he has seen his mother being his partner in games and dozens of times, his father, playing the cameo appearance as a chef for us.
We, like other parents, try hard every day to make our son a finer human being. Somedays we feel we are excellent in our efforts and other days, we find ourselves complete failures. But, it’s often quoted, ‘Failures are the pillars to success’, and so, we look at each day with possibilities and hope. Just trying to be ‘Simply Human!’
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