If Childhood Gender Roles Were Forced On Adults

This video from Buzzfeed showed up on my newsfeed this morning and it brought back a memory of Jeremy.

It was December 2006, Jeremy was nine years old and he desperately wanted a DS lite. He’d saved his allowance for months and had almost half the money he needed saved up. Then he got money for Christmas, just enough for his game system.

We walked into the electronics section of Real Canadian Superstore and headed for the cash register. Jeremy was bubbling with excitement because he was getting his DS lite. Me, on the other hand… well I was nervous. I knew exactly which DS lite Jeremy was going to ask for and didn’t want to have to argue with another person (in front of him) in order to get it.

The cashier was a teenage boy. Jeremy walked up to the register and said, “I want to buy a DS lite.”

“We have lots here,” the cashier assured him. He started pulling boxes out and placing them on the counter for Jeremy to choose. I braced myself to ask him to pull the pink box out as well, an argument I’d faced everywhere else. The teen pulled it out automatically and without any prompting.

“I want this one,” Jeremy stated, pointing at the pink box.

“Good choice,” the cashier replied as he put the other boxes back. Then he rung the purchase up without any additional commentary. I surreptitiously handed Jeremy his Christmas money and he gleefully paid.

Sadly, the cashier’s reaction wasn’t the norm and Jeremy got a lot of comments later on about his “girls toy”. I’m so glad his initial purchase was positive and angry at the same time. That should have been the norm.

Instead the norm was for all options except pink to be shown. Then Jeremy would ask for pink and the cashier would refuse and argue that his favourite colour shouldn’t be pink because it’s a “girls colour”. Then I’d step in and tell the cashier to give the pink item to Jeremy and would get glared at like I was the worst parent in the world. I’d pay and off we’d go, Jeremy with his toy… and the knowledge that everyone except Mom thought his choice was wrong and weird. And that’s not fair.

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One thought on “If Childhood Gender Roles Were Forced On Adults

  1. I love, love, love when people just do the loving thing, whether it is with careful thought or because their brains are just open and accepting. I wish it happened all the time. My son was complimented by a new acquaintance the other day, “Oh, what I nice skirt! I like it!” It made my heart happy because while I expected acceptance based on our brief conversations, I just never know until it happens or doesn’t. I texted her later to thank her for the compliment and she wrote back, “We have to accept children unconditionally.” I wish everyone could believe that and live it for all the children and adults in our world who don’t fit into their “assigned boxes.”

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