What is it about gender roles? Are they nature or nurture? Is there something about being a girl that means you like ponies and princesses? Is there something about being a boy that means you like trains and trucks? How much of this is programmed into them from adult expectations? How much of their true personalities are suppressed for the same reason?
I was at a craft store once and noticed a young boy with his grandmother. She was buying beads for a project. He asked her to buy some beads for him because he wanted a necklace. Rather than being pleased that her grandson was interested in a craft that she enjoyed, she brusquely told him “Boys don’t wear beads!”
I, of course, had to disagree. I named cultures all over the world where men wear beads. I mentioned that there is nothing about beads that says they are only for girls. The grandmother immediately changed her tune and started to help him look for beads.
Why are boys taught that anything that isn’t macho is bad? Boys are steered away from pastel colors. They are told that dolls are for girls. The worst is when they are told “boys don’t cry”. I think we do children, but especially boys, a huge disservice when we try to shape them into something they are not. I think we need to let them be who they are as individuals and not try to force them into a pre-made form. Meanwhile, girls are allowed to play with boy’s toys. Girls can be “tomboys” without problems. But boys who play with girl’s toys are “sissies”.
This is dangerous. We are creating boys who are not in touch with their emotions or feelings and have no safe way of expressing them. This is the source of much of the violence we are seeing. We have to undo this. We are teaching boys to be boys at the expense of their souls. When we give them “rules” about how things must be, we don’t let them use their own creativity or insight. We stop them from growing.
How about we let boys and girls be people, without worrying about their gender? We need to stop gender stereotyping them. We need to teach them both how to cook and change tires. Everybody needs to learn useful skills if we are going to have fully realized people. Perhaps this will mean we will have more discoveries, as people open up their minds to the “what ifs”.
Perhaps then it will mean that people will marry out of strength and not weakness. They won’t have to marry someone to complete themselves. They will be two strong people who both are able to mow the yard, raise the children, pay the bills, and cook. Imagine how much further we can go this way.