Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Childhood

I don't really remember a time when I wasn't conscious of the differences between gender stereotypes. When I was very young I had a close friend called Daniel whose absolute favourite colour was pink. I remember turning to him and declaring that "Pink's my colour. Boy's can't like pink."

The first time I remember thinking that it was unfair was in the playground at primary school. Jake and I were chatting to the supervising teacher and Jake was showing that he could wink. For some reason this earned him a lot of praise and naturally, being the gobby brat that I was (am) I demonstrated that I too could wink.

This earned a raised eyebrow and the throwaway statement that "It doesn't work when girls do it."

Both of these examples are stupid, tiny, insignificant things but I remember them so clearly that it beggars belief. I can't remember visiting Disneyland, or my first day of high school but I remember these two pathetic events from when I was about six.

But as is generally known, these ideas are printed into us at a very early age. I can wink, very easily, but I never do it. I don't wink at girls or boys, and I certainly don't wink at my teachers (which was, in hindsight, a bit weird).

I'm sure many people know about the rising number of parents raising their babies Androgynous- ignoring gender-specific colours and clothes, and just dressing their child however the hell they want. In order to ignore Gender stereotypes these parents are going as far as to keep the gender of the child a secret from even close friends and family. In that online article, the androgynous model Andrej Pejic is also mentioned. Andrej took the fashion world by storm when he appeared in Paris, with everyone asking "who's the blonde girl?" (Obviously I'm paraphrasing) Andrej became the face of androgynous fashion.

But is hiding a baby's gender going too far? Do our adult identities take form so early on? If so, what could this mean? Will an androgynous boy grow up hanging out with the boys or the girls? Will they hang out with anyone? I remember a very strong divide between boys and girls at school- boys were gross and naughty, whereas the girls were clean and sneaky.

I don't think anything's wrong with letting a child play with either Action Man or Barbie, regardless of gender, and I don't think clothes necessarily need to be sectioned into 'girls' and 'boys' either (particularly at young ages) but growing up without anyone knowing what to call you must have some dangerous ramifications. However the way a child is raised is up to the parents, and we have no right to condemn what they're doing.

But on the flip side, maybe the androgynous children of this new generation will teach us something. It's entirely possible that these children will grow up incredibly sure of themselves and who they are regardless of what their peers are doing. Maybe those children won't smoke just because the other boys look cool doing it, and maybe they won't dress too skimpily just because the other girls are doing their best to grow up faster.

Maybe Androgyny is the future for the modern family, and maybe it's just a quirky new thing someone thought they'd try. Like baby cages.