A Special Anti-OTPBS Post: There's Hope!
Generally here at Smarty Mommies, we do a weekly post about old-timey patriarchal bullshit we see in the news. We want to highlight the sexism and general disregard for women we observe and experience every day. We want to fight it. Do our part in smashing the patriarchy. Take down OTPBS one post at a time if we have to.
BUT… we don’t want to depress you. We live through OTPBS every day and we know it can get overwhelming and sad; it’s easy to feel helpless. Like there’s nothing we can do. Like it won’t get any better. Guess what. Things are getting better. It’s slow and it’s not always visible, but it’s happening. It is.
Lookit! Proof! The other day on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Senator Claire McCaskill made a beautiful, beautiful video asking men think about - to simply consider - shutting the hell up sometimes. It was a joke, yes, but it was also real. Very, very real. It was a remarkably smart retort to all the mansplaining women suffer through and, really, it’s a damn solid message. As she said, “The world doesn’t need your opinion on everything.”
It’s not that she wants men to stop speaking altogether. We don’t either, so please don’t accuse us of misandry. We do not dislike men. We do, however, feel that women’s voices are valuable and worthy of respect - just like men's voices - and it’s time the world went ahead and fully recognized that. Senator McCaskill just wants men to listen more. To leave room for women’s voices and choices. And to STOP TRYING TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT WOMEN’S BODIES. Ahem. Anyway, it was fantastic, and a sign to me that things are moving forward. Watch it and smile.
(It's great, right? I told you. Watch it again. It continues to be great.)
Then, we were lucky enough to see this post at Upworthy about clothes for little boys (or any kid!) that buck stereotypes. If you’ve ever shopped for clothes for little boys, you’ve noticed that it’s nearly impossible to find things without trucks or sports or military images or violent themes. We won’t even talk about the stuff that says things like, “Lock Up Your Daughters” or “Ladies' Man.” *shudder*
And, of course, finding anything that might be *gasp* pink or purple for little dudes who love those colors is almost impossible. Rainbows? Nope. Sparkles? NUH UH. You’ll also notice that clothing for boys featuring characters from shows or movies often eliminates the female characters entirely. Because, you know... apparently girls are gross. (OTPBS, much?)
I have two sons, and as much as I love stripes (and I really, really do), it's getting hard to find anything - besides stripes - that doesn't feed into the gender norming of my little boys. I don't like it, and it's exhausting trying to find stuff. BUT! The clothing companies listed here - Free To Be Kids, Jessy & Jack, Handsome In Pink, Quirkie Kids, and Jill and Jack - seek to break the cycle of gender norms in clothing. These companies sell clothing for kids that is generally unisex and free of limiting script, or takes gender stereotypes and turns them on their heads. Check it out (all images via linked websites):
photo credit: Jo Rainbow Photography via Upworthy
I see purple! I see shiny! I see messages of love and pink and kindness! ON LITTLE BOYS! But they would be equally great on girls! AND THEY'RE SUPER CUTE. Whoa. It's really happening.
Now, we've linked the crap out of this post because we know these things aren't actually super easy to find. And I am lazy, so I figure some of you are lazy, too. But they ARE out there, and that is a great big fantastic start, so we're making it as easy for you as we can.
So listen, Smarties. Let’s change societal norms, starting with our little Smartlings. With the holidays rolling up, let’s aim to buy from companies that challenge gender norms, that empower our kids to be themselves, that allow our little boys to be loving and sensitive and wear pink and sparkles, and allow our little girls to be strong and powerful and wear black and short hair. Let’s stop telling our kids what they have to be. Let’s let them just be.
(And fret not... Christina will be doing a post on clothing for girls that bucks stereotypes in the same fantastic ways! She has daughters, so it makes sense, see?)