“Girls Don’t Like Monster Trucks” & Other Gender Stereotypes
Girls are dainty. They like dresses, pink, and wearing makeup. They are quiet and reserved, and always polite. They will grow up to work jobs as nurses or teachers because they are maternal and like to take care of people. They like to play with toys such as plastic kitchens and baby dolls, because they will grow up to be happy homemakers and mommies. They are not like boys. Boys are rambunctious and like to get dirty. They are loud, and like things that are also loud. They play video games, especially ones where things blow up. They like toy cars, because men like cars. And they like sports. At least, that’s what we’ve taught our children.
These are all stereotypes we socialize our children and ourselves into believing. Being born female does not mean that someone will like pink, Sex and the City, or want to have children… yet these stereotypes persist. It’s not that there aren’t enough people breaking the mold – we just ignore them, tease them, or assume they don’t actually enjoy that thing they like.
While saying “girls don’t like monster trucks” may seem innocent enough, statements like that are bigger than they seem. Because when a girl is playing with a toy monster truck at day care, the other children will start teasing her for playing with “boy toys.” And unless she stops playing with the toy she likes and starts playing with toys girls are “supposed” to like, she will be typecast as a “tomboy” … even if she likes to wear dresses. These are just a few of the seemingly innocuous stereotypes we need to stop pushing:
“Girls don’t like sports”
Sundays in the US are a time for men to watch football over Bud Lights and hot wings. They sit around and scream at athletes for dropping passes and missing field goals. Fathers take their sons to football games, buy them hot dogs, and call it a bonding experience. Football is a Real Man’s Sport. Never mind the women and girls who also like the game.
Girls and women who like sports are often typecast in two categories: tomboys (and therefore not feminine like girls are “supposed” to be) or imposters who don’t actually know anything about the sport and are just a nuisance. Remember, girls are supposed to be dainty. And football is the farthest thing from dainty. If we accept that there are tons of women and girls who really, truly like male-dominated sports, well, that would just result in a hideous clash of femininity within a masculine space, and we can’t have that! It might rub off on the men! COOTIES!
No girls allowed
“Boys don’t wear pink”
“It’s a boy!” declares the doctor holding the newborn baby in his hands. Now it’s time to clean him up, wrap him up in a blanket, and pop a tiny blue hat on his head. The baby girl that was just born in the next room gets a pink hat. Because pink is for girls and blue is for boys.
It starts in the hospital nursery, perhaps as a way to help the nurses and doctors keep track of the babies. But it doesn’t stop there. From that point on, any boy who wears pink is Doing It Wrong. He’s a “girly boy” and will probably be teased to the point where he might cry – and then he’ll be teased more for crying because boys don’t cry, only girls. And then he’ll spend the rest of his life learning how to suppress his emotions so he doesn’t cry again, which is harmful in itself.
“Video games are for boys”
ComicCon is rich with Booth Babes. Advertisements and marketing for video games are always directed at boys and men. Those that are directed at women consist of Wii Fit games, Katamari, or perhaps Cooking Mama, and there’s always a splash of pink somewhere (because girls like pink, remember?) And what’s worse – when women do play “boy” games (I’m talking about Halo, Call of Duty, Ghost Recon, etc. Games that have loud explosions and all the characters are men) they’re subjected to harassment from their male counterparts. Because the only way a girl could like a first-person shooter is if she’s fat, ugly, and desperately wants attention from men.
This is harmful in several ways. First, it pushes the idea that there are “right” things and “wrong” things for girls to like, and it places video games on the “wrong” side. Secondly, when the video game world does open up to girls, it does so by creating “acceptable” games for girls to like – ones that involve cooking, exercising, and cute things. “Boy” games that have women for lead characters overly-sexualize said characters as a way to keep the boys playing the game interested. It also assumes that girls only play “boy” games because they want attention from boys, which is heteronormative and problematic.
Via Fat, Ugly, or Slutty
Gender stereotyping like this doesn’t happen on accident. It has a specific purpose: to separate boys from girls and men from women. And it’s poisonous. It really is. It puts the idea into little kids’ heads that there is a right way and wrong way to be, and that notion will be with them forever.
Does any of this ring true to you? What other gender stereotypes can you think of? Share with us in the comments!
Written by Alisse Desrosiers
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