Parenting

Gender roles and Peppa Pig

For some time now L has been making mention of his fear of the dark, but most recently (almost as soon as he hit the age of 5) his fear of the dark went through the roof. Literally, every night while sitting with him until he falls asleep, he would mention ghosts and the shadows and how dark the room was and I would have to reassure him I was not going to leave until he fell asleep. I would also make sure to leave the door open when I would go downstairs and leave it cracked when we are upstairs so some light would still come into the room. However, it got me thinking to when I would make my mother (or sister) sit with me every night until I fell asleep and the only thing that alleviated my fears was a Donald Duck nightlight my mother got for the room. Donald night-light was my crusader against all things scary in the dark and I loved him, so I thought a nightlight may help L while sleeping.

Fast forward to this week, we stopped in the pharmacy close to home where I asked about nightlights and the salesgirl showed me this cute Peppa Pig nightlight.

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I saw my son’s eyes light up and he got excited (we both love us some savage Peppa Pig), and then I saw the sales girl’s facial expression change when she realised it was for him. She promptly asked me if I wanted to look at something more for boys and my response was, ‘Does it matter?’ I turned to L and asked him, ‘Do you want this? Do you like this?’ and he responded with a shy grin, nodding and saying yes at the same time, “I want it, mummy.”

There, settled. Salesgirl looked confused, but I suppose she did not want to lose a sale so she soon rang us up and L practically skipped out of the pharmacy with his new night light in hand, happy to see how it works.

Now, I wonder if people know that boys love Peppa as much as girls do. Shocking, right? They love Peppa and George and the entire band of weird and cool and awesome animal children and the stuff they get up to. I love Peppa because she is bold and doesn’t take shit from anyone, she persists even when it seems as if her back is against the wall and she can be super savage when she needs to be (who has not seen that whistling episode??). Boys can love Peppa, boys can love pink. Why are we still creating and selling toys according to what we assume boys and girls love or should love? I hate pink, I hate dolls. My son loves green and black, loves Peppa, all vehicles known to man, running around like a crazy person and launching himself off furniture. A freaking pink base on a night light or loving a female character in a cartoon is not gonna ‘feminize’ him, nor will surrounding him with blues and macho characters ‘make a man’ out of him. Puberty does that.

We need to stop trying to fit children into moulds and expecting them not to fight against them. Let the boys play with the damned dolls if they want; use it as an opportunity to teach consent, appropriate treatment of girls and women instead of thinking that it will automatically feminize them or somehow influence their sexual alignment. Let the girls collect Hotwheel cars and build towers with engineering sets and use it as an opportunity to teach them that they can do practically anything.

No, I am not saying we should stop saying a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl (when it comes to sex); what I am saying is that the boy playing with a doll or asking for his nails polished at 5 is not going to change sexual orientation due to that…that is literally not how it works. While we must draw the line at harmful behaviours and interests, most of the time these interests are simply that – something they are interested in now and they will most likely move on from. But best believe that if you fight against certain things you are inevitably making that thing even more interesting to the child. Remember when our parents would tell us don’t look at/touch that bag on the counter and the only thing we wanted to do is touch the bag because now the bag is so interesting and mysterious. We build it up in our minds as something to be desired, something that is huge and/or monumental simply because someone told us don’t look.

Let’s let it go once in a while, let them look in the bag and more often than not the shine would wear off sooner rather than later.

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