How to Deal with Gender Stereotyping Comments

How to Deal with Gender Stereotyping Comments

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have had to deal with gender stereotyping comments from other people. Your own family, other parents or even strangers walking down the street. In this day and age it seems that everyone has an opinion on how children should look, play and behave.

Gender stereotyping comments aimed towards Ragamuffin really, really bug me. It can be hard for me to keep an even tone to my voice when I reply so sometimes it feels like people, family especially, are scared to say anything.

Being “that parent”

A few months ago I had to be “that parent” and have a conversation with our nursery manager about gender-specific pet names. One day Ragamuffin came home and in the space of 20 minutes called daddy princess, pal, beautiful and buddy. At the time, she hadn’t picked up the gender-ness (is that even a word!?) but whenever I’d been in and around nursery I’d heard staff using princess and beautiful for girls only and pal and buddy for boys only.

It was because of both of these things that I went for a chat with nursery.

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m all about choice. Girls can have pink boys can have blue as long as it’s a FREE choice, and not their ONLY choice. Hopefully I’ll manage to get through this post without going on a rant, but I can’t promise.

 

How to Deal with Gender Stereotyping Comments - Image of a young girls with long fair coloured curly hair with her back to the camera nand both arms in the air. She is stood in a field with trees in the background.

Common Gender Stereotyping Comments

Here are some of my most hated gender stereotyping comments *shudders*

“Boys will be boys”

“Aren’t you beautiful!?”

“Big boys don’t cry”

“Dinosaurs are for boys”

“Pink is for girls”

“Be careful” [to girls]

I felt my blood boiling just typing those out. I just wish people would realise just how ridiculous it is to separate this stuff based on what genitals people have. That almost developed into a rant but I managed to hold it back.

Replies to Help you Deal with Gender Stereotyping Comments

There are a few different ways that you can reply to these types of comments. You can use a bit of sarcasm, some humour or start a discussion.

I would say that you should probably try to read your audience before choosing anything mentioned here.

How to Deal with Gender Stereotyping Comments - Image of a girl in red wellies with black spots stood in a shallow pond with her back to the camera.

Ask Why

If someone says “… are for boys” or “… are for girls”, try asking them why. “What do you mean by that?”, “Oh that’s a funny thing to say about children”. I think that if you make someone question themselves and they come round to your way of thinking by themselves, they’re likely to be more open to your way of thinking in future.

 

Repeat the sentence replacing the gendered words with gender-neutral terms

So you could counter “boys will be boys” with “kids will be kids”. Respond to “boys can be so rough” with “kids can be so rough”. Whether or not the person you’re speaking to takes on board what you’ve said probably depends on how forcefully you say it.

 

Respond with humour/sarcasm

You need to choose this one wisely. It might not go down very well with other parents at the school gate or your nan with very firm views on gender. “Gender stereotypes, how 1950’s of you”, “yes you’re right it’s because they have a penis/vagina”.

Sarcasm is probably the biggest mode of communication here at Raising a Ragamuffin HQ. Both daddy and I are really sarcastic, as are my colleagues at work, and sometimes I forget to switch it off.

I did once reply to a comment about me wrestling an over-tired Ragamuffin into a baby carrier (she fell asleep almost instantly once she was in) with “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you were a leading expert in child development”. I felt a bit bad afterwards because she was an elderly looking lady, but I was quite stressed at the time.

 

How to Deal with Gender Stereotyping Comments - image of 6 children on a sports field jumping between the rungs of a rope ladder laid out in front of them.

 

Be direct

Just say, “I don’t buy into that way of thinking” or “I find it really odd that people segregate stuff for people with penises and stuff for people with vaginas”. There are times when you just can’t be bothered beating about the bush (this is me pretty much most of the time). What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t speak to you anymore, if that’s the case then they’re not someone worth bothering with in my view.

 

Talk about your own experiences

“We have found that our daughter is quite physical and that our son prefers craft activities”, “Oh, really? That’s not been our experience”. I think people are more likely to listen to you if you can back it up with real-life scenarios. Especially the older generation who like to start sentences with “back in my day” and think that we should still give kids a good smack when they ‘misbehave’.

 

So there you have it those are my top tips on how to deal with gender stereotyping comments. Is this something you deal with often? What are your favourite responses? Leave me a comment and let me know 🙂

 

How to Deal with Gender Stereotyping Comments - Image of the back of a young girls wearing a long top and long shorts. She is stood at the edge of a pond.

 

You may also enjoy:

How to get Girls Excited about Women’s History Month

An Unusual Princess – Princess Smartypants Review

The 7 Best Gender Neutral Potty Training Books for Kids

 

Comments 3

  1. I love these ideas, especially “I don’t buy into that way of thinking.” This could be especially useful to people who say “I just think boys and girls are ‘wired’ a bit differently.” When in fact, kids’ brains are almost identical until about age 11 or so.

  2. I love this post. My daughter is only 6 months old so we haven’t had to deal with that much of this yet and I’m dreading it. So far I’ve just had “she looks like a boy in that” because, you know, girls can’t wear such a manly colour like grey without growing a penis. My usual response to that one is just “yeah, she looks cute right?” but the one comment that really p*ssed me off was an old man telling me in the middle of Tesco, when she was 3 weeks old, that she’d have boys all over her when she older. I walked off feeling disgusted but I really wish I’d have called him out on his bullsh*t

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