My little brother made a comment the other day that really made me think about what children are learning and taking away from the media they consume. He was talking to my mom about some song by Nirvana, a band that he’s recently become obsessed with, and she told him that she didn’t really know their music because she was never a fan. To this he said “Of course not mom, girls don’t have good taste in music. Don’t worry its cause you just don’t know.” My mom laughed it off like a joke and walked away, but I was so shocked with the comment that I went off on a long lesson about gender roles and stereotypes.
I explained to him about the women’s rights movement and how very different life would be for my mom and I if things had not changed, how things were in the earlier decades of the 1900s and how hurtful it is when he makes comments like that. I told him that saying something like that is the same as someone saying he doesn’t have real feelings because he’s a boy, to which he got upset and said that was crazy especially since he’s such a sensitive kid and so attached to my mom. I also pointed out several revolutionary female musicians like Joan Jett had a rock band that was very successful, while often controversial. The odd thing was that I couldn’t figure out where he was getting these ideals from, since that’s not the example he sees at home. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the videos he watches on YouTube may not flat out SAY these things, but they certainly imply them. When they say things like “oh, what are you a girl?” to describe some less than ideal behavior or bad move in a game, they make that distinction that being a girl is a bad thing because it makes you less than a man.
Hopefully by continuing to be open with him, he’s only 11, about these things we can fix some of the damage. He gave my mom a long apology when she got back that night and promised to never assume she didn’t know something just because she was a girl.