Social Media


Teaching Gender Equality: Help! My Two Year Old is Sexist!

kids playing
Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life
ParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting - Post Category - Toddler & PreschoolerToddler & Preschooler

OMG, my son is sexist and he’s not even in school yet. Do I really need to start promoting gender equality already?

It’s my fault, and it took me totally by surprise. When I had a boy, I was determined that my husband and I would raise him to be boy – and eventually a man – who respects women and treats them as equals. I just didn’t realise I’d have to start so early.

Like most babies and toddlers, he’s fascinated by trucks, diggers, buses and aeroplanes. People gave him picture books filled with different types of trucks, and we would read them to him over and over again. “Look at the yellow truck, there’s the man driving the digger, oh there’s the bus driver – he’s beeping the horn…”

duplo truck

I was pleased he was so interested, so engaged! Then we were given some Duplos – a farm set and a digger set. They came with a tractor, a digger, a tip truck and three male Duplo figures to drive them. And so it continued, we’d play with the Duplos, talking about what we were doing, “Look there’s the man in the truck, and now he’s putting some dirt in the tractor…”

I didn’t see it, didn’t hear it, the constant repetition of ‘him’, ‘he’, ‘the man’ until all of a sudden one day I did. We were looking at a vehicle picture book and I realised they had included a female character, a farmer. So I said to my son, “That’s the woman, she drives the tractor,” and he didn’t even look at her, he just said, “No… man!”

kids sharing

The first thing we did to remedy the situation was march into the LEGO store and demand to see a female Duplo character. Actually there are a few, so we came home with a female zookeeper, complete with a bear and a fish to feed to the bear. Unfortunately, whenever I suggest that the woman should drive the tractor or the digger my son shakes his head, laughs, and says, ‘Man!’. She is occasionally allowed to drive the tip truck but is almost always rejected in favour of the man.

I’m annoyed with myself for being so easily led by the toys that my son owned. He’s not quite two and he is already quite confident that men do pretty much all the things. As I’m a stay at home parent, he also knows that mum cooks lunch and dinner, does the dishes (well, sometimes), the laundry and the shopping. So even though I worked up until having a child and we used to share those household duties more evenly, I still feel like my son is growing up completely subscribing to this patriarchal view of the world. And we’ve only got ourselves to blame.

shopping girls toys

I guess what I’ve realised is that, in all seriousness, promoting gender equality will take constant vigilance. The way toys are marketed for children has a long way to go (as do many of the toys themselves), but as a parent I can make informed decisions about what I choose to encourage my child to play with.

I’ve made a point of talking about the mums we know who do go to work, and also the women we know who are not mums. I’m graduating with my Masters next year, and I look forward to my son witnessing that. I hope he’s starting to understand that women can do all sorts of things – including driving diggers, tip trucks and tractors. But for now, my son’s awareness of gender, and what it means to be a man or a woman in this world will remain a work in progress. Which is probably as it should be.

Lead image sourced via Vuly Trampolines. Image #1 sourced via Lego. Image #2 sourced via Connected Families. Image #3 sourced via Dailymotion.

more sassy mama

What's New

We're social
Sri Lanka is a favoured destination for so many mamas and families in Dubai. We are devastated by the attacks on this beautiful island and its people- our thoughts and prayers are with them all 💙 #prayforsrilanka via @sassymamasg by @apsi_doodles
Teamwork, confidence, safety, FUN! We love, love love - so many reasons to sign your kids up - read more in the link in bio, mamas! ❤️ 🌊
Motherhood can sometimes feel a bit like this, right?! Chaotic, messy, crazy - exhausting!! But ok, fun too 😉. Disney Channel’s latest original animation series 101 Dalmatian Street explores all the warm and messy complications of domestic life, multiplied by one hundred and one! Catch the new series weekdays at 4pm KSA time, from 1st April – only on Disney Channel, exclusively available on @osn #osn #101DalmatianStreet 
HAPPY UAE MOTHERS DAY, mamas - you got this!!! ❤️🐾🐾
Praying for the people of New Zealand and for tolerance, diversity and love to prevail ❤️ repost @courtneymoorfield #weareone
It’s nearly the weekend!! How about a stroll around downtown Dubai to end the week,mamas? So much gorgeous weather to take advantage of 🦋via @kirsty_and_neve_travels #sassymamadubai
**WIN** 💦 🦞 We’re planning to make waves this summer in super cool Joseph & Alexander swim shorts, the swimwear brand which offers a gorgeous range of patterned shorts made from recycled plastic found floating in the ocean - we love!!! And there's a very cute mini and me collection too (that's Father's Day sorted this year). Want to win a pair? Simply like this post and tag someone you know who loves the ocean and wants to cut back on the use of plastic - too easy! One entry for each person you tag. A winner will be announced via instagram on March 18th, Global Recycling Day. GOOD LUCK! 💦 🦞 
This competition is open to UAE residents and is not sponsored or endorsed by Instagram.
Happy International Women’s Day, mamas! #herestostrongwomen #girlpower

We're social

What we're up to and what inspires us