Some of the most powerful blog posts share discoveries of stereotypes in the world that we've failed to question. Jessica of This is Worthwhile is the BlogHer Voice of the Week because she teases out a bias of her own, a subtle thread in her fastidiously woven philosophy on gender norms, knowing full-well that if she really pulls on it she could unravel her previous work.
Jessica opens her post, "It's just a color, or is it?" with what almost reads like a disclaimer of nonbias. As the mother of a son, she has made efforts to not influence his choices by imposing societally-determined norms of what is considered male.
I've always avoided traditional "boy clothing." I never buy things with footballs, baseballs, or fishing lines on them, or pithy little sayings on the front about his "manliness" or "masculinity." ...
His room is yellow with a nature/kitschy look. I don't think anyone would necessarily walk into his room and think, "A little boy lives here."
But there are choices that Jessica hadn't anticipated. Recently, while shopping for shoes for her son at Nordstrom's, she laid out several pairs of Crocs in different colors and asked her son to pick one, setting up the selection according to her code of nonbias:
"...two navy blue and one each of bright blue, kelly green, glowing orange, lavender, and hot, hawt pink. I'm thinking to myself that I'm really cool with whatever he picks. I mean, hey! I'm laying out pink ones, right? I'm an evolved mother!"
When her son selects the hawt pink she realizes her own construct is not as rock solid as she thought:
So when he dives for those pink ones immediately I am suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of embarrassment. First at the idea of him running around for the next year in pink shoes, then at myself for being embarrassed in the first place.
Aware of her bias, she still asks her son to make another choice, and then another, then realizes she's confused him and is confused herself:
The bottom line is that yes, we know the implied gender difference between a pair of pink shoes and blue, but children at this age do not. Yes, they might get harassed at the playground, but is it really our job to shelter them from the impact of their decisions? Good or bad?
Part of the charm of this post is the black and white picture of the pair of Crocs that Jessica bought for her son, shown at the beginning. Jessica answers the question she poses at the end of her post with a color photograph of the selected pair that I won't give away.
Thanks, Jessica, for the engaging second take on a parent's influence over a child's perception of gender norms, and your willingness to question things, again.
And thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them coming! If you want to check out all these posts, check out the BlogHer Voice of the Week archive.
For Elisa, Jory, and Lisa, BlogHer Co-founders
Jory Des Jardins writes on business and career topics at BlogHer, and on her personal blog From Here to Autonomy
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