From Jobs To Toys: Let's Stop Gendering Things That Do Not Have A Gender

One way to move towards gender equality is to stop gendering things that we have slotted into arbitrary classifications.

Tanvi Akhauri
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Why is it so hard for us to stop gendering things? We live each day restricting ourselves and other women inside boxes that define us through dated stereotypes. To cook is feminine, but to change tires is masculine. Girls should play with dolls, while boys should compulsorily be handed toy cars. From the day we're born to when we turn to ash, we live by gendered norms that are disproportionately disfavoured towards women. How much longer before change comes?

Patriarchy controls our lives in all that we do, taking the wheel in aspects that are both so infinitesimal that they're invisibilised - such as boys, not girls, being asked to lift chairs in school - as well as protruding - such as women being told they cannot work after marriage whereas men are naturally expected to.

And it is in the male-dominant status quo's best interests to keep this charade of double standards up, marginalising women by claiming hierarchical superiority over them. If the playing field becomes level and equity becomes the norm, then men's authority over everything gendered will be endangered, won't it?

To serve to the advantage of a single gender, why must all others get the short end of the stick? Which is why it's necessary to begin ungendering things in life that all of us deserve equally.

Here's Where We Can Begin To Stop Gendering Things:

1. Toys 

Why is it that when a girl is born, she is welcomed with all things dizzyingly pink and glitter and dolled up, and a boy is generously endowed with cars and other toys that demand cognitive mechanics? First off, neither of the two options trumps over the other, in an ideal world. In ours, however, everything that a girl is conditioned for is characterised by femininity - something that endures for life. And hence, it serves as grounds for keeping her away from the rough and tough arena of cars and machines and technology.


2. Life skills 

Are domestic tasks like cooking or cleaning or laundry &t=1062s">emasculating? To our sexist society, they are, even though each of these comes through as an essential life skill important to our maintenance. We gender each of these chores to fall rather conveniently in the lap of women. The household - grihasti - is slotted as the domain of women who have to preside over its upkeep. But not for mere appearances, but to ensure maximum comfort for the men of the house. So potent is this conditioning that it pains many men to even get off their behinds and make themselves a cup of chai!

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3. Parenting 


Not a choice, motherhood is understood to be a woman's duty. From when a girl gets up off the floor from her fours to begin standing on her own two feet, qualities that require her to nurture, maternally care for and nourish are instilled in her. Why else, but to ensure she lives by the standards of sensitivity and sacrifice women are expected to exercise when they become mothers? But is parenting a woman-only task? Shouldn't men who may become fathers in the future too be prepped for the job profile?

4. Wardrobes 

Gender-fluid clothing is emerging big on the contemporary fashion scene and how! And yet, for the mainstream audience, a man wearing a skirt or a woman in a pantsuit is an occasion for raised eyebrows. Even though changing wardrobe norms are giving space to the LGBTQIA+ community to express themselves flamboyantly and without shame. The hetero crowd, however, continues to stigmatise those who step out of dictated boundaries of dress and its related morality. Time to strike this regressiveness down?

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5. Jobs 

Why are fields of STEM, law and order, information technology, construction populated largely by men? Society has long seen these as careers that require either brain power or muscle power - both qualities that are misogynistically attributed only to male capability. But why so? Women are now breaking this arbitrary glass ceiling that has prevented them from touching the skies in each of these jobs, to build careers setting them on the path of financial independence.

Views expressed are the author's own. 

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