Saying ‘B*llocks!’ to Gender defining

Thought Adele rocked for letting her son Angelo wear a Frozen dress to Disneyland?  Kids will be kids, especially at an early age – and little boys often tell us that princess dresses are shiny, twirly and don’t scratch their legs …

Anyway – being pro-gender neutral is on the up, as the below survey tells us:

Three in five young parents back retailers removing all gender labels from clothes, toys and other products.

  • 41 per cent of young mums now say they parent gender neutrally compared to just 25 per cent of older mothers
  • Adele’s actions confirm rise of ‘PrincHEss’ trend, with a third of young mums encouraging children to wear dressing up outfits traditionally for opposite sex
  • Toys, books and school sports are items most parents want to go gender neutral, but 27% want gender neutral school uniforms and 15% even support gender neutral shoes
  • Children first become aware of gender aged just 23 months
  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt seen as most positive gender neutral parents, while Katie Price is the least supportive.

Mums are forcing firms to change the way they market products by supporting ‘gender neutral parenting’, a new study by video parenting site ChannelMum.com reveals.

Fifty-five per cent of all parents – and 60 per cent of young mums aged 30 or under – back retailers removing all gender labelling on items including clothes, books, kids furniture and toys.

Top stores including Hamleys and Marks & Spencer have already stopped labelling toys as ‘boys’ or ‘girls’, but parents want to see shops go much further.

The new survey of 2,020 mothers revealed 41 per cent of young mums now claim to parent gender neutrally, compared to 25 per cent of older mums. And over half of all parents (51%) say the gender neutral movement – which sees parents avoid male and female stereotypes in clothing, schooling and behaviour – is growing fast in the UK.

The most popular item families want to see go gender neutral is toys, with 56 per cent insisting children shouldn’t be restricted in playing with them because of their sex.  Over half (52%) want children’s books to be gender neutral while 50 per cent believe schools should also follow the trend by offering every type of sport to both girls and boys.

Almost a third (28%) of all parents say they now actively ban certain phrases such as don’t cry like a girl’ or ‘man up’. Two in five (40%) also ensure their tot plays with toys designed for the opposite sex.

Tellingly, parents felt the most damaging message to children about their gender is ‘society expecting boys to be tough and girls to be weak’, which was seen as a major problem by 51 per cent of parents quizzed. A quarter strongly disliked clothing with slogans like ‘trouble’ for boys and ‘spoilt princess’ for girls, while 45 per cent felt employers were not doing enough to break down gender stereotypes on certain jobs.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were voted the best example of parents practising gender neutral parenting, whereas Katie Price was the worst for posting images of her young daughter in heavy make-up and hair styling.

ChannelMum.com founder Siobhan Freegard said: “For society to become truly equal, we all have to be treated equally, and the new generation of young parents may be the ones who make that breakthrough. There is a real and very relevant change going on, not only for girls to have all the opportunities men have traditionally had – but also for boys to express and embrace their softer side. 

“The effects are already influencing, retailers, schools and society at large, and should hopefully allow the next generation to be who they really are, not who they feel they’re expected to be.  

Editor’s tip: grab a copy of David Walliams’ ‘The Boy in a Dress’ upfront of World Book Day…