“Four Books that Challenge Gender Roles”
Most adults were probably raised on the idea that boys did one thing while girls did another, that boys love blue while girls love pink. It’s neither correct nor incorrect to believe in traditional gender roles, but people are more wary these days of such stereotypes and inequalities between the sexes. It’s wrong to discourage a girl from studying engineering as it is a male dominated industry, as it is wrong to deem a boy homosexual just because he has an interest in clothes, and this has inspired numerous parents around the world to support the movement of gender neutral parenting, or GNP as it’s more commonly known. Although the uninformed may see androgyny to be the result of this parenting style, Everyday Feminism explains, “The whole point of GNP is that it doesn’t force any preconceived gender norms onto a child in the hopes that they can find their own comfort spot on the continuum we call gender.”
Parents aren’t the only ones working to eliminate society’s prejudices on gender. From clothes and toys to literature, businesses and individuals are redefining gender roles in various ways. Several companies are doing quite well in the arena, including the unisex clothing brand Tootsa that focuses on colors and patterns that any child would love without the gender biases. Clothes are a great way to express one’s thoughts on the subject and show their support for fluidity, but for anyone that is unaware of the gender continuum could use a lesson or two from a few writers that have changed our outlooks on what it’s like to be masculine or feminine.
Writing about a gender neutral character is a difficult skill to master, but a handful of authors have managed to do it so eloquently that it's time that we help young students break any gender stereotypes they may have.
All I Want Is To Be Me by Phyllis Rothblatt
Gender neutrality is all about individuality, which is exactly what All I Want Is To Be Me promotes through this story of children expressing their personalities with the clothing they prefer and activities they like.
Not All Princesses Dress In Pink by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
The typical princess is expected to be dainty and damsel-like, but not these royal family members. Jane Yolen shows us that princesses come in all shapes and sizes, and that loving sports and adventure don’t make them any less of a princess, no matter what anyone says.
Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
In the story of Jacob’s New Dress, a young boy is made fun of when he shows up at school wearing his new favorite outfit. But role models such as his teacher and his mother show him that there are lots of ways to be a boy, and that it’s just a matter of accepting and loving himself.
Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ballerino Nate is about a boy that discovers his love for ballet, but finds it difficult to pursue his dream to be a dancer when his brother says that only girls can be ballerinas. That’s when his mother takes him to a real ballet and meet a real male dancer, in hopes that he will persist no matter what obstacles may come his way.
About the Author: Ainsley Izzie is an aspiring writer. She has been working on sharpening my skills for about 4 years now and has had some of her work published online. Her published works can be viewed on Techie Doodlers and her personal blog.
Thank you Ainsley for this post about such an important topic!