It begins here -Tackling Gender bias at home - Rareminds
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It begins here -Tackling Gender bias at home

One of my fifth-grade boys stopped a social science teacher speaking about how social reformers had to fight their way to create more civil liberties for women; pre-independence times and many organizations still continue to do so. His genuine doubt was, ”Isn’t it my mother’s duty to stay at home and take care of all of us? Why should she go out to work? My father should do this”

Let us move to another age group

When it was time to change the seating arrangement in class the teacher instructed all the girls, “Please move out till the boys arrange the class, it’s their job”.

Rings a bell? Should we just move on with life as if nothing happened or should we pause and ponder? Where did the child and the adult pick up these thoughts? As much as it astounds everyone, they both were reflecting the environment of the same place- Their HOME.

As true as the pandemic being a mass killer is the fact that gender bias begins at home, in the family, and most of the time, even before the child is born.

Gender sensitivity is the process by which people are made aware of how gender plays a role in life through their treatment of others. (Wikipedia). Before we begin to pat our own backs for sensitizing our children about their gender which should decide their behaviour and how they will be treated by people around them, let us take cognisance of the criticality of how we are doing it. It all begins when we select pink or blue for the newborn baby’s merchandise. Interestingly, history has it that originally, blue was assigned for girls and pink for boys but that changed as they associated characteristics to the colours – pink was closer to red, the colour of romance, which had to be connected to girls who were assumed to be more emotional. Following this, the boys were left with blue, by default. This typecasting forces our children to fit into pre-conceived roles and grow into them thus, putting a strong foundation to gender bias.

Irrespective of the number, gender, social strata of the children born, generally, expectations are set for behaviour. Stereotypically, Male members are supposed to go out and earn (the major source of income) for the family, be the unflinching person at all times and never give in to situations that publicly display ‘weak’ emotions like love, grief, or forgiveness. These are sentiments that are supposed to be hallmarks of the female gender besides being docile, ever submissive to any kind of treatment, sacrifice self-care for the convenience of others, and above all take over the complete ‘dekhbaal’ of the needs of the family. Honestly, do we still subscribe to this, and more importantly, are we consciously or unconsciously instilling this in our children? While we are very protective of our daughters and prefer them to take up ‘softer’ chores and responsibilities we fail to realise that our sons also need to be sheltered as they can also go through everything abusive that girls are vulnerable to. As much as we need to make our daughter strong, independent, competent to live her life by her rules, it is equally justified that our son is nurtured to be sensitive, afraid of challenges, loving, and not feel guilty if they want to stay at home and take care of the family!

Thankfully, things are changing and more and more parents are letting their children choose the colours they fancy, do tasks they prefer to (Rotation of chores, irrespective of gender can help), pick up the kind of clothes they like to wear and choose the profession that they are inclined towards (not what a man or a woman can do best!) Also, they are following the best-proven strategy to address gender bias at home- be role models of gender sensitivity by sharing all household responsibilities in a fair and balanced manner (not 50/50 at all time!!), let each other decide what they like to do and support them unconditionally by giving space to breathe and live.

It was gratifying to recently watch Alecia Beth Moore, aka Pink, on a popular talk show who had allowed her son to grow his hair long and her daughter to keep it very short. When questioned by the host why it was like that, she replied,” Because they want it that way!”

Let us not put blinders (on ourselves and the children) and make them choose between just blue and pink. After all, when mixed together, these two colours yield purple which stands for the calm stability of blue, the fierce energy of red, royalty, power, ambition. creativity, wisdom, dignity, peace, and pride – all that every child truly deserves.

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About the Author

Anupama Ramachandra

3 September, 2021