Thursday, 21 September 2017

The 'Gender-Neutral' Experiment


There's been quite a bit in the news about girls' and boys' clothes recently. Whether it's the takedown of Clarks and their flimsy girls' school shoes, the news of John Lewis's 'gender neutral' children's clothes or various other stories around the issue, it seems to be a really hot topic.

There is a certain type of internet commenter who will jump on any story about 'gender neutral' clothing or any call for an end to gender segregation in clothes, saying that "girls will be girls and boys will be boys". These are the comments I understand the least. Because surely these people should welcome an end to separate boys' and girls' sections in clothes shops.

Hear me out on this one. By their logic, it is human nature for girls to like pink and butterflies and boys to like blue and diggers. That's just the way it is. There's no point to putting all the clothes together, they say, because boys and girls will still gravitate towards clothing currently aimed at them.

Well, let's put this to the test, shall we? Let's have all clothes shops get rid of their boys and girls sections and see if kids still automatically colour code themselves. It's an experiment!

While we're at it, let's make the experiment a bit more rigorous. Let's dress babies in all colours of the rainbow rather than predominantly pink or blue from birth. Let's get rid of the boy/girl divide in toy shops too (Let Toys Be Toys are working on that very successfully) and make sure our children are all given equal access to those toys. Let's pair every book featuring a damsel in distress with one about a princess who does her own rescuing, and every macho superhero book with a story of a gentle, caring boy. Let's even up the numbers in kids' TV shows and get rid of the stereotypical behaviour in there. Let's stop talking to little girls about how pretty they are or to little boys about how strong they are quite so very much. You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

Really, if you believe gender difference is innate and not a result of the society and culture we live in, then this is the perfect opportunity to test out your hypothesis! Great, isn't it? Just get rid of all the stereotyping that our children are surrounded in from birth, and see if the girls still reach for pink every time while the boys head for blue.

Come on then, internet commenters, let's get this experiment under way. Prove us lot in the PC brigade wrong.

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