So, I have made a slight change to this blog. And it is so minor that you probably didn’t notice, even if you have visited the site 100 times before. But on the other hand, it is a little change that may mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. to some little boy or girl. What change did I make? I removed all of the categories and titles that referred to a craft as a “Boy’s Craft” of a “Girl’s Craft”. (And I removed those titles from my Pinterest boards too). I know that you come here to find cute craft ideas to make with your kids, and I promise to deliver on that, in a big way. But today…I want to talk about something else…gender stereotyping and kids crafts. Please humor me for a moment, because this is important.
This has been on my mind for some time, like a pebble in my shoe. Every time I am browsing through Pinterest or other kids’ craft blogs, there are always categories that define which are crafts for boys and which are crafts for girls, but it is all wrong! So wrong! Isn’t this one of the big things that is wrong with our society these days? Of course, I am not really talking about the names of Pinterest boards, but about the much larger issue of gender identification. It is a conversation that we should all be having, for the sake of our children and their futures.
And I was playing my part, as small as it might have seemed, in perpetuating the gender labels. I mean, after all, if I want to do what is best for my blog business I am expected to use key words in order to be more SEO friendly and drive traffic. When you look up kids’ crafts, there are always key words of “for boys” and “for girls” added. But I reject that entire concept! Shouldn’t we all be trying to do better? And I am making a change, doing my part to stand up and say…”Boys and Girls, just be you! And NEVER BE ASHAMED of who you are!!!” You are accepted here, just as you are. To start, pick ANY craft and make it your own, no limits.
On Being a Boy…
So, here it is…why is it so wrong for boys to love unicorns, flowers, jewelry and the color pink? Can’t boys be both tough and soft at the same time? Why do we preach to each other that it is brave to be vulnerable…unless you are a boy? Then you must keep your emotions to yourself, toughen up, “be a man”.
When we push this agenda on young boys, starting from birth, what message are we sending? Aren’t we telling them that it is NOT ok to be who they are, like what they like, express themselves in a way that feels right for them? (And, that may very well be by wearing a football jersey, playing the drums, and burping out loud but it may also mean drawing beautiful landscapes, wearing a skirt and playing with dolls.) Instead they are expected to fit into the “masculine” box…a box that we as a society have totally made up. IT…IS…NOT…REAL! And then when a kid doesn’t fit into this imaginary box that we have arbitrarily constructed, they are told that they need to change somehow (even going to extremes) to fit in…or feel bad about themselves because they don’t. It is no wonder that our youth today are so conflicted, confused about their sexual identities, depressed, anxious, suicidal…
On Being a Girl…
And then we have our pretty little girl box that we have constructed. It is painted in a soft, unassuming color, filled with pretty flowers and gentle items that never make a loud noise, then covered in glitter. I mean, what message are we truly saying to our girls? Be quiet, stay in “your place”, don’t speak out or make a scene? And don’t forget, you must always look pretty and smell good. Moms, hear me now…tell your girls to speak up! Be who they are! Tell them it’s ok to be unapologetic about wanting more out of life and going after it with all that you all! It is ok to be smart, good at math, a lover of comic books and the color black. Tell them not to get in that pretty little made up box…I beg you! As a matter of fact, tell them to stomp all over that box so that it no longer exists!
So what now?
I was recently listening to a podcast, the RISE by Rachel Hollis (Episode 103…You will want to check it out too.) And the guest, Reshma Saujani, was talking about how she looked around and realized that all of the computer classes were like 80% boys (I am paraphrasing, of course). Where were all of the girls? And why were they missing? But she didn’t just notice the inequality and then move on. She actually did something about it, creating “Girls that Code”.
And so I have been inspired to take action now, even if to start it is only to write this blog post and change my little corner of the world by refusing to continue to perpetuate these false identities. It may seem like a little thing, but I have to start somewhere. I pledge that each craft on this blog is for ALL kids. If you like it, then make it. If it makes you happy, go for it and enjoy the process. There are just too many confused and hurting kids out there. And don’t they deserve better? So, I will do my part. Will you?