Breaking Through The Wall

As I write this article, Christmas is nearly here and Three Kings in on the horizon. My eight-year-old son is watching TV, getting endlessly bombarded by adverts and honestly, I feel deeply disappointed to see how little things have changed from the time I was his age. The line is an easy one to draw: racing cars, dark colours, action and adventure games are targeted to boys, whereas fairies and princesses, pink and purple, reborn dolls or make-up are ‘best-suited’ for girls. Obviously, the gender-based stereotype still prevails.

Nowadays, this clear-cut division is widespread and applicable to any item you can think of from school bags or wallpapers to, of course, clothes. Our world seems to be divided and labelled as either ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’. I can’t help but wonder “Is this really the 21st century? Shouldn’t we be fighting for equality? Why are we perpetuating this role model?”

Supposedly, as a boy, my son should be inclined towards fighting games, show an innate tendency for blue and like football, but it turns out that he is not the ‘action-type’; quite the opposite.  He’s into fuchsia and unicorns, so here we are, mother and son, popping into one of the multiple clothes shops in Murcia. Just by taking a quick glimpse, you can perceive the imaginary borderline, the gender-aisle that sets the ‘BOYS’ and ‘GIRLS’ sections apart. I feel as if I were contemplating two different kingdoms split by a wall, like they were clothes for completely different species. Flowery and glittery T-shirts with cheesy messages such as It’s cool to be cute for girls and Marvel superheroes and dinosaurs for boys.

Hey, wait, don’t girls like dinosaurs?

Can’t a boy wear a glittery sweater?

As these questions keep on banging in my mind, my son sets his eyes on some pyjamas in the ‘GIRLS’ section, across ‘the wall’. They are pastel-coloured, of course, with lots of Pusheen cats all over – I reckon it must be Hello Kitty’s cousin. Anyway, we decide to buy them, but on our way to the checkout, it is evident how embarrassed my son is just by the mere thought that anyone in the shop could laugh at him for picking an item ‘from the other side’. This simply cannot happen.

I really miss some sort of unisex, neutral section, where parents and children would feel at ease choosing clothes, no matter the gender. Those who have sons AND daughters could really pass on clothes from one child to the next without making him/her feel they are not fitting into the role model imposed by society. They would be ‘JUST clothes’. 

As I see it, we are, in a not-so-subtle way, modelling children, restricting their choices, shaping them with something as ‘trivial’ as clothes. Now, and back in the 1970’s, it’s the same old song: ‘girls should be dreamers’ and ‘boys should be action-takers’. Sadly, most parents still seem to fancy this cliché. In my view, we must break with this never-ending clothes dictatorship and stop assuming that boys and girls are meant to like different things. 

María José Gambín Marín

Escuela Oficial de Idiomas