I am a self-proclaimed geek and father of two – a girl and a boy. For some reason, my wife has given me the responsibility of buying both boys’ and girls’ clothes. It is either because she thinks I have good taste, or she dislikes shopping and finds it convenient that I work across from a mall. I prefer to think it’s the former of the two.
As my children are close in age, they tend to feel left out whenever I get something for one of them and not the other. So whenever I buy an item for my son, I have to buy a similar item for my daughter, and vice versa.
Now, when I get to the department store, I levitate immediately to the boy’s section. I am greeted with shirts with prints ranging from Disney characters to Marvel and DC superheroes, and lots and lots of Star Wars-themed clothes. If heroes are not your thing, you can find a variety of messages that appeal to the intellectual boy; anything from science-themed clothes to encouraging catchphrases. All the clothes designed for boys have one thing in common: they are made to be worn by a playful child. They provide warmth in the winter and comfort in the warmer months. It’s a matter of minutes before I find something that I would wear myself if they made it in my size.
The girl’s department on the other hand… It’s not that I feel uncomfortable picking out girls’ outfits. It’s the choices that are available that make me uneasy. Clothes designed for 8-year-old girls are either unfitting for a girl that age or are just too stereotypically “girly”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily want my daughter to be a tomboy, and I’m not looking for a second son. However, how is an 8-year-old girl supposed to run and play in a sequined dress?
Why do all printed shirts need to have a cute animal or a heart on them? Or even worse, they have shiny dangling things. Catchphrases should empower my daughter, instead of just asking her to be beautiful or cute. Where are the Dark Phoenix, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow shirts? Why can’t my daughter be interested in the sciences? If she has to be a princess, let her be Leia, not Barbie.
The same premise that applies to clothes applies to toys as well, but that’s a whole different nightmare.
The retail industry is designed to raise boys to be strong, confident, and independent men. Meanwhile, girls are groomed to be pretty and caring women. Although these attributes are good qualities to possess, when cultivated as gender-exclusive, they just create stereotypes.
Leaving the theatre after watching The Last Jedi, I turned to my wife. I said, “Finally, a movie that has strong female characters and the men are just headstrong idiots”. I found a loophole in this “boys’ world”, where my daughter can be just as much a part of the story as the opposite sex.
The sci-fi movie industry seems to be catching up with the times, with films like Gravity and Interstellar. Isn’t it time the clothing and toy industries did the same?
Do you agree that girls shouldn’t be forbidden to be geeks? Share your views in the comments!