by Tamilore Oladipo
I read an article in Vanguard recently about the rise of gender-neutral child-rearing and my first reaction was thank God. I honestly never thought we were going to reach the point where Nigerian parents realized that blue isn’t always for boys and pink isn’t always for girls. I mean, this is a notion perpetrated by white people in their overly patriarchal society that we picked up and ran with. And we ran far. You would never catch a little boy dead with a purple backpack or a girl with a train set. Girls very involved in traditionally “manly” sports were (and still are) seen as overly butch and boys who like sewing are too feminine.
Now, though, things are changing. Stores in Australia are removing the designation of toys for boys and toys for girls. Schools in the UK are removing the gender restrictions on classes like Home Economics and sports. If only we had this when I was little- I was stripped of the opportunity to get a skateboard once but my brother got one because he’s a boy (I’m still bitter about that). I love that Nigerian parents are beginning to realize that gender identification isn’t always so clear-cut, especially at a time when people are beginning to ask questions about what truly makes someone a boy or a girl.
There are people who look manly or feminine because of unusual amounts of oestrogen or testosterone in their bodies- it happens, get over it. They feel like have to hide that fact and never get treatment because they fear the backlash they may receive as a result. And no, it is not an invention by the Western world, it’s been happening since before you were born. So don’t convince yourself that they are “cursed” or have done something to deserve how they were made. You never know how your own child will turn out to be so don’t condemn these people for something they cannot control.
I don’t usually like things that are normally seen as girly like the colour pink or romance or cooking; I like comic books and sneakers and the colour blue. That doesn’t mean I’m homosexual or that I’m never going to find a husband (as if that is all that really matters in a woman’s life). It just means I have a personality beyond what is conventional, which is totally normal. Gender norms are part of the reason a lot of people did not believe a woman could run the United States and look where that has landed the US, a major world power, and the rest of the world.
Anyway by all appearances, parenting is going to be another thing the generations before the millennials are going to look at and say we screwed up, but who even cares? Children shouldn’t be constrained by gender norms that are messed up anyway- who even came up with the idea that boys shouldn’t show emotion? It has bred a lot of (really sexist and insecure) boys and men who have no regard for the emotions of others because they believe it shows weakness and put people down in order to feel better about themselves. And no, letting girls do traditionally male-dominated activities will not turn them into lesbians and vice versa- I doubt that’s how it works.
I know it seems far off, and we are all marrying and having kids later and later in life, but it is an important question. Bringing a child into the world is a pretty big deal and not something to be undertaken lightly. Don’t do it if you’re not ready and all that. So as someone in the 18-34 range, what kind of parenting style do you use or do you think you’re going to use?
Tamilore Oladipo is a Mass Communication student at Pan-Atlantic University with interests in blogging, digital marketing and music.