I’ve just entered the Mumsnet Bedtime Story Competition. Without giving too much away, my story was about a little girl on an interplanetary adventure.
Little girls and outer space aren’t often represented together in media. My daughter loves learning about outer space, which makes one of my pet peeves as a parent the way in which all things outer space are seen as as something for boys. Toys, books, clothes, greetings cards….if there’s an alien or a spaceship on it, it’s labelled ‘boys’. Try buying a birthday card for a girl who likes outer space, as I did recently, you might find a pink sparkly star but that’s about it. People who say buy the boys thing instead don’t understand the issue, you wouldn’t buy a picture of a boy in a rocket for a girl’s birthday card, where are the girls in rockets? Also, as soon as children can read they can spot the word boy, they don’t even need to be able to read, they know they’re supposed to have the pink or the blue because everyone keeps telling them. It’s drummed into them time and time again everywhere they go; passive pink fluff for girls, fun active stuff for boys. It’s incredibly blatant and it is far worse now than it was when I was growing up.
I read a forum post today in which someone talked about taking her children home from a 3 year olds party – her daughter was crying because her party bag contained hairclips while her brother’s had a sword in. I cannot understand how any parent would seriously think that any three year old child would prefer hairclips to a sword! It’s all a part of the drip, drip, drip that is so damaging.
I know little girls who like to play with spaceships, trucks and dinosaurs, just as I know little boys who like playing with dolls, kitchens and make-up, but this, normal, behaviour gets discouraged and children get pushed into playing with ‘the girls’ or ‘the boys’ toys instead of being allowed to be who they are. What is society so scared of?
Some Mumsnetters are starting up a campaign about the genderisation of toys. It’s still in the planning stages and I’ve managed to get myself involved in it too. I’ll post more about it when it’s launched.
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Speaking of literary contests, (well I was before I got sidetracked), I am also involved in the Legendary Women Literary Contest, but this time on the judging side. The organisers want to read about strong female protagonists. The deadline is 30th November, so if you have any fitting short stories lying around – get them polished up and sent in.