In 2010 a little boy rushes off to school with his mum, excited and a little nervous. His mum let him pick his costume for the parade that day, and he chose one of his favourite characters from his beloved TV Show Scooby Doo. He was scared about what the other kids would think, would they laugh at him? But when he got to school he was greeted by the other students with smiles and delight in his choice. Sadly, however, there was still a shadow over that days proceedings. The parents of these children were disapproving. The reason? This little boy had chosen to go as Daphne. He wore a little purple dress and bright orange wig. But what is the big deal? What a child wants to wear?
When a child chooses to re-define who they want to be, or what they want to wear in the case of the little boy and his Halloween costume, some people go into panic mode. A paranoid assumption you could say, that because a boy or a girl chooses to “switch gender roles” means that there is something wrong with them. In 2012 this moral dilemma was defined as ‘Shiloh Panic’ when Angelina and Brad Pitt allowed their daughter Shiloh to dress in what ever attire she chose and she opted to dress and behave more like a boy.
So why are we so scared about allowing children to dress however they want? How does a child’s attire determine who they will or will not be as an adult? And is it really something parents should be concerned with considering the there are far worse things in this world than a little boy who wants to wear a dress or a little girl wanting to cut her hair short?
Even the colours that we associate with each gender has changed over time. In the mid 19th century it was considered ‘masculine’ for boys to wear pink and ‘feminine’ for girls to wear blue, this was then re-defined in the 40’s and suddenly pink was feminine and blue masculine. Again, a redefinition of colours and the genders it was associated with was introduced and ‘gender neutral colours’ were created in the 60’s and 70’s.
When you think of gender and the roles from a religious perspective the roles of men and women is conflicting. Craig L. Blomberg explains that “In the first creation account, God fashions man and woman as fully equal bearers of his image. They jointly receive his blessing and commission to rule the earth ( Gen 1:26-31 ). In the second account, it is specified that God created the man first, and that he created the woman from the man’s rib only after all the animals proved inadequate companions ( Gen 2:18-23 ).” We can see here that even in one religious text the definition of each role men and woman play is different depending on which verse you read. One men and women are created equal, the other men are the superior being and the women were created to be ‘their helper’.
If you look at the roles of genders around the world there are some very different and conflicting ideas compared to those of western cultures. What is considered the primary male roles and what is considered to be the primary female role is blurred. In the Documentary Taboo: The third sex, there is a varying definition of gender comes into question depending on the country you live in.
So is it the media’s fault for how genders are portrayed or is it the fault of society? When you look at advertisements over the ages the way men and women have been portrayed has definitely changed. Where once women were often shown as the submissive wife who dutifully cooked for her husband, to woman with very masculine features and poses. The image of male and female has changed significantly, women can be body builders but still be fashion models, they can be strong but still famine.
Gender can no longer be defined as male and female. As a society we are becoming more and more aware of changes in the roles men and women chose to play and yet there is still a long way to go in regards to accepting these changes. By trying to fit our children into little boxes that society has created are we doing more harm than good? Or are we trying to simply conform to what we have been lead to believe is “normal behaviour”.
- Oh no They Didn’t 2010 Nov 4, 5 year old boy dresses as Daphne for Halloween http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/52914794.html
- Carolyn 2010, Nov 5, 5-Year-Old Boy’s Daphne Costume Throws Gender-Conscious Parents Into Shiloh Panic www.autostraddle.com/a-five-year-old-boy-incites-gender-panic-65863/
- ADVOCATE.COM EDITORS 2010, Nov 4, , Boy in the “Gay” Costume , www.advocate.com/news/daily-news/2010/11/04/prek-moms-denounce-boy-girls-costume
- Riese 2012, Jan 25, Shiloh Panic! Life & Style Rehashes Fears About Shiloh’s Haircut, Pants, Dinosaur Toy, Arts Entertainment, www.autostraddle.com/shiloh-panic-life-style-rehashes-fears-about-shilohs-haircut-pants-dinosaur-toy-129510/
- C L. Blomberg, Bible Study Tools, 1997, www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/woman.html
- H Smith 2010, Girls Are Pink, Boys Are Blue: On Toddlers And Gender Roles, Jezabel ://jezebel.com/5561837/girls-are-pink-boys-are-blue-on-toddlers-and-gender-roles
- J HODGE 2010, Sept 23, The History of Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys, Gender Focus http://www.gender-focus.com/2010/09/23/pink-for-girls/