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Myself in Public

Blue for Boys, Pink for Girls & Gender Neutral Ambitions

This article was written and posted on 4th September 2017.

 

Addendum added 9th September providing difference between sex and gender by definition. Click here to go straight to Addendum.

 

On 2nd September 2017 John Lewis Department store announced it was to remove gender labels from its childrens clothing lines and merge the two previous sections, girls and boys into one. Here are two of several newspaper coverage.

John Lewis Removes Boys & Girls Labels Childrens Clothes - Daily Telegraph 02-09-2017

John Lewis Boys Girls Clothing Labels Gender Neutral Unisex Children - Independent 02-09-2017

It has become a social media debate with regards its positiveness and yes we have the usual quarter of negativity. For me I am all for it, it is a step in the right direction.

This particular subject has come on the back of a recent BBC2 two part documentary in August 2017 entitled No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free? This is where a class of 23 7 year olds were taught for 6 weeks in a gender neutral environment, books not gender neutral removed, gender descriptive phrases, notices etc stopped and all used the same toilet not one for boys and one for girls to name but a few. The aims and expectations changed with the girls certainly showing more confidence in themselves and expectations, with the boys dramatically reduced bad behaviour by some 57% and increased empathy. I also think this is good, and another classic essential to attain gender neutrality.

Books with male super heros were removed but female super heroines were mentioned. Girls pink bedrooms were dismantled. Why cannot a child embrace femininity? Even a combination of Femininity/Masculinity? When it came to parent involvement, not many, in fact most did not take part. I did notice within the gender neutral environment girls in skirts or trousers. I accept a 6 week course was condensed into 2 hours so a lot is missed but it was obvious anything feminine was out, except skirts, but a masculine approach in. The documentary discussed blue for boys, pink for girls. Society has in the last 100 years changed its mind on this colouring three times and all to suit society preferences at the time. See my short article on this on my page “Traditions”. Also see my page “Skirts Generally & Brief History”.

It is like the John Lewis decision on childrens clothes. It is only for the age group 0-14 years. After that, we have gender labelling.

1) Why?

2) Is society saying we need gender neutrality but only up to 14 year olds?

3) What happens when these children reach 15 years old?

4) Why the emphasis of gender neutrality for children only and purely for girls towards a masculine ethos?

5) Away from the documentary, why the emphasis of gender neutrality for adult women in other aspects of life again towards a masculine ethos?

Do children at 15 start to campaign for continued clothing neutrality or do they start asking themselves, excuse me, what was all the past 14 years of brain washing about. The vast majority of tweets and discussions since the John Lewis announcement is targeted at female expectations. In the adult world social media and real life is abound with comparing the genders with regards expectations of each and claiming gender equality when it is not present but primarily only for concerns of women.

I have also noticed that society obsession with gender neutrality is always girls joining the boys, women joining the men. I was intrigued to note two tweets from Sarah @VelveteenFemme on 3rd September:

What if instead of getting rid of girly things we let kids of all genders freely choose items on a spectrum of utilitarian to ornamental?”

Celebrating the de-gendering of stuff often seems to mean treating the masculine as default & assuming the feminine is frivolous.”

Sarah is right. A further tweet, a reply to her, stated “that androgynous clothes are usually suits/masculine cuts.”

For me I am all for gender neutrality but it has to be inclusive and in all aspects of life. You cannot achieve true gender equality if one aspect of differential exists. Why does it always have to be masculine based? Why not both? Why cannot girls prefer pink and princesses if they want and boys soldiers, firemen etc? Even a combination? To stipulate is no different to applying yet another form of label. It is another form of expectation, another form of stereotyping. A healthy mixture of both feminine and masculine should be the real pursuit. Allowing both genders access to the full spectrum of human based and created aspects of life equally is not reassigning genders. Man or woman it is based upon the sex that is biologically fixed. The person defines themselves, not appearance or clothes, preferences, ambitions. Gender is created by labels. Society should still encourage both genders to believe and have confidence in themselves, have aims, ambitions and goals. This provided they have the knowledge and ability, all occupations are there for both genders. Both genders should have free access to all toys, all books including male and female perceived role models. If one prefers a book or toy over another, so be it. Both genders should be told that clothing and appearance is their choice regardless of age. Then, and only then will society have achieved true gender equality. Until then it has failed. It has yet again succumbed to the human failing of applying yet another expectation, label and stereotype.

I have for a very long time considered that society in this modern era is obviously uncomfortable with anything that is or looks feminine and its drive that all has to be or have a masculine ethos is its aim. The gender neutral debates prove this and the fact that 99.9% of women dress and a lot look like men in appearance. With regards the main aspect of this site, a women is encouraged, praised and complimented on a masculine fashion style but a man who prefers a skirt is ridiculed and mental status questioned. The debates that followed the John Lewis announcement have brought in many concerns that this will mean boys will wear dresses or skirts. Why not, is it not equality, freedom of choice etc all attributed to the female gender? With regards my second question above, women from teenage years upwards can already wear male style clothing even though purchased in womens departments because they have pushed for such fashion by earlier women wearing male clothes. In fact some women still do wear male clothes. See elsewhere on my site.

As so often with humans all I can see is meddling and muddling. We are right to show concern for diversity problems within the genders. We are right to show the clear diversity problems that face the female gender but what about areas affecting the male gender. Occupations is one big issue for society and women and quite rightly so but what about male teachers especially primary age, male nurses  and pre school children jobs. The lack of diversity with men in voluntary roles. That society frowns in this modern era to be negative in any form towards women but it is fair game towards men. That mens issues are disregarded or watered down but womens issues paraded with full force. That society insists on labelling "all men" for some mens misdemeanours yet not so for women and their fellow female misdemeanours.

Society is not only fickle, but selfish, hypocritical and yes bigoted. 

 

Addendum (Added 9th September 2017)

 

In the week since this particular page was created the subject has been a topical point of discussion with some individuals that I have met. All in discussion do not see why clothing has to be gender specific in this modern era for either gender but one or two did express concern that you cannot have total gender neutral because at some point you still need to differentiate between male and female. When this point was further discussed these few only noted gender as defining male and female. I needed to point out to them that sex defines male and female biologically, gender is a human label describing cultural expectancies of both male and female within society. The trouble is, as is so often the case with humans, one particular description is latched onto and that particular word used all the time in this case gender. Sex is not often used in this aspect as it has a dual meaning the other is chiefly used for sexual activity/sexual intercourse.

The definitions are:

Gender: Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.      source: en.oxforddictionaries.com

Sex: Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.      source: en.oxforddictionaries.com