Gender Roles: How Strictly Do You Define Them?

green star earrings

Photo by rockerchic

One mom's question about whether or not to pierce her 4-year old's ears sure sparked some debate over in The CafeMom Newcomers Club recently.

What's interesting to me is that age wasn't the controversy, it was gender — her child is a boy. So in an era when many CafeMoms agree that little boys should be allowed to do ballet, many at the same time believe that earrings are only for girls, not boys.

Wow. What year is it?


My 3-year old and 6-year old boys happen to like this navy blue nail polish I have, and both asked for me to paint their nails. I obliged, warning the 6-year old that some of the kids at school may not think boys should wear nail polish.

Sure enough, society acted just like I knew they would. He got teased for "being a girl," and we removed the nail polish. We had another long talk about gender roles and stereotypes. And somehow, I feel a little like a failure...

Of course, I understand why we, as adults, must follow certain social norms to get jobs, to be respected, to be taken seriously — and what that means if we choose not to. However, it depresses me that these rules hit kids so young and that a young boy can't even play around with putting color on his fingers without being teased.

And that still the worst thing a boy can be called is a "girl" — even in this day and age.

I wouldn't let my boys (or girls if I had them) get their ears pierced at four years old. Piercings are a big responsibility. And as a mom, I don't want to have to worry about another wound-worthy body part that I'd also have to clean on a daily basis. So I was pretty shocked that gender was the bigger issue in the thread.

I am so tired (if not bored) of the notion that boys and girls should be stuck in a box based on their gender. Truly, I am.

Do you teach your children to act within strict gender roles – boys do boyish things, girls do girlish things...? If so, how far do you go? If not, how do you handle when society's perspective comes crashing in?


Related posts:

Will You Get Your Baby's Ears Pierced?

Tips for Piercing Your Baby's Ears

Body Piercings: Should a 12-Year-Old Be Allowed to Get Them?

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