To say that we challenge gender roles in our family is a bit of an understatement. However, as much as we try to convince our kids that gender is a social construct and traditional gender roles are bullsh*t, we have our work cut out for us. Sure, their mom has a faux hawk, and their dad wears makeup and loves to cook, but they absorb so much from school, the internet, and the world around us. Regardless though (and to my pleasant surprise) my there have been so many times my kid reminded me that gender constructs are for the birds, and not the other way around.
I am convinced that our world would be a better, more equitable place if more people realized that gender is a social construct that doesn't have anything to do with what we look like, what we like, how we dress, what we are good at, and what careers we pursue. Maybe if we raise our sons to see their dads cooking and cleaning and to understand that they, too, need to learn to excel at “women’s work,” more men and boys would step up and take a larger role in parenting. Maybe if we teach our daughters they're more than just pretty faces, expected to act like "ladies" and dress a certain way, they might become CEOs, scientists, or president when they grow up. The possibilities are limitless when we discard the limits of gender and gender stereotypes.
My husband and I talk regularly about who does what in our relationship in terms of physical and emotional labor. We share tasks at home based on who likes to do certain things, ability and, honestly, who can or cannot stand to watch the other muddle through a task that they like to be done in a certain way (it's me, and the kitchen, sorry honey). We seem to be doing a pretty good job of modeling nontraditional gender roles for our kids, because every day, one of them teaches us a thing or two about gender constructs and why they are for the birds.
One of firsts times my daughter taught me about gender was the time she came along for her baby brother's doctor's appointment. He needed a few necessary vaccinations and the nurse realized that she had brought in pink bandaids by mistake and said, "I'm going to run out and grab some boy bandaids." My 3-year-old daughter said, "What!? That's silly, there are no girl or boy colors. Pink is awesome. Who cares?"
My spunky daughter's career plans change on the daily, but she keeps going back to wanting to be an engineer. It makes sense; she's creative, has amazing artistic and spatial ability, is constantly trying to figure out how things work, and loves to create things (sometimes out of things I would prefer she throw away). I am so proud that she not only sets her sights high, but she doesn't feel limited by gender stereotypes.
My heart broke when my son came home and told me that his "friends" at preschool had said his hair made him look like a girl. I promptly pulled up pictures of men with long hair on my phone. Lots of "men" rock long hair. It has nothing to do with gender.
Speaking of his hair, my son has beautiful curls. I will cry when he asks me to cut it. For now, however, he loves ponytails, braids, and buns.
When my daughter was 4, she got in trouble for not wearing shorts under her skirt at school. I had a few words with the director about how school dress codes were discriminatory, sexist, and based on ridiculous ideas of gender roles and boys not "being distracted" being more important than girls' rights to an education. Screw school dress codes.
My daughter decided to trade her waist-length locks for a rad asymmetrical rock star cut. All of the kids at school were super jealous.
A few months ago, we went to visit an old friend of mine whose daughter is transgender. We were a little worried about how everything would go down, but our daughters became fast friends. One night, mine said to me, "Having a penis doesn't mean you are a boy. Girls can have penises, too." Absolutely.
My youngest son is a gentle soul and is by far the most nurturing of our children. I am pregnant right now, and he can't wait to hold and help take care of his new baby sibling. He loves snuggling his babies. He's not so sure about diaper changes, yet, but I am sure he will be my little helper once baby is here.
My son had no idea that the boots he picked out last year were "girl boots." He wanted boots with Elsa and sparkles, and those are the ones he got. They are fabulous. It's time to say, "let it go" to gender constructs.
I am currently pregnant. While we have had several ultrasounds and know what baby's anatomy looks like, we decided to do something different this time around with a nontraditional gender reveal video. It was super fun and absolutely us.
Gender is a social construct. It won't change how we raise our baby, or who they become. They can decide for themselves who they want to be, and we'll support them no matter what.