The Gender Question

Fairies are for girls!

I love this question. It is so rich and full of enquiry. For life and for the business.

“My daughter wants me to hire a princess for her birthday party, but we are inviting boys!”

“Perhaps we should just hire a children’s clown, even though my son has asked for a superhero entertainer at his party.”

The Friend

I was having a heart to heart with an old uni friend the other day. It was a sad reunion as we were saying goodbye to a friend who tragically left this world before his time. As we are all in the phase of parentage now, many of us with toddlers, the question of the future is on our lips. With the combination of reflections on how we have developed since those care-free days, whiling away our hours, watching re-runs of Friends and The Mighty Boosh; we pondered the changes we will see in our children’s time.

Gender was a big topic of conversation. There is certainly a lot of discussion around the issue of gender roles in young people today. Gender stereotypes have been in question for many decades, the argument re-written as new traditions and trends are introduced. For example, my parent’s generation battled the stereotypes of gender roles in the workplace with the eighties bringing many women into high power roles. My own generation, we tackled the issues of marketing gender stereotypes, particularly through toys, games and children’s literature. Both these subjects are not off the table of course, but social acceptance and awareness are most always shifting.

Pro-nouns are a common subject of late, with many young people adopting a freedom of choice in how they identify. For an inside perspective on this subject, read the article ‘9 Things People Get Wrong About Being Non-Binary.’ Suzannah Weiss

This is where my friend and I started to speculate on our children’s future. Will our ideas of gender be dated and even offensive by the time our children grow up?

Have you ever experienced that older family member who says something completely racist/sexist etc, but has no idea they are doing it? Often due to the changes in language used, political correctness and sensitivity towards human identities. Will our children look at how we talk about gender in the same way? Will my son read this article in his future and be horrified by what I am saying? Gosh who knows? But if he does, I have no doubt it will be because we have evolved our ideas and progressed as we always do as a human species.

The Teacher

Gender is a question I get asked about a lot running CraZy BeanZ Ltd. In fact, gender is a question I have often been asked about in all my professional roles working with children. Common questions I get asked…

Will the boys enjoy it?

It is suitable for girls?

I won’t give the context these questions were asked in as there have been so many.

During my teaching experience, comparisons between boys and girls have been commonplace.

Results season often brings reports of how boys reading scores have fallen lower than girls this year and vice-versa. Another meaty subject, that I spent a lot of time analysing in this profession, but again that would be a whole other article. Type ‘girls boys reading score study’, into Google and you’ll have many articles to compare.

I recall many behaviour management training sessions, recommending we create boy, girl seating plans. Some headship members suggesting the girls kept the boys in order. Sorry boys!

In a training session we were shown a video created to motivate more women into the industry.

Have a watch and tell me what you think…

Of course, we were shown this to pick it to pieces. I am sure you can imagine the conversations that took place during that training session!

Is there something in gender stereotypes and preferences? Gosh, I couldn’t tell you that! I am a teacher and a children’s entertainer, but certainly not a gender specialist. It is a fascinating subject though and I love chewing on it and hearing people’s thoughts.

The Mother

Now I am a woman, raising a son alone and I do see gender traits. But I also see lots of similarities.

This tiny son of mine, has all on his own, gone for anything with wheels. He is currently two and a half and has been wheel mad since he could crawl. It started off being the wheels on buggies in baby groups. As soon as he could move himself, that is where he spent most of these sessions. It developed into anything with wheels, to more specifically, TRAINS! Then came diggers (thanks to the building site that is our new build estate), then tractors, cars, police cars, ambulances. WHEELS! WHEELS, WHEEL, WHEELS! Even the suitcase is marvellous in his little world. He has no father and I haven’t ever had much of an affiliation with modes of transport (though I seem to be developing a new appreciation for them through his little eyes), so I would conclude that it is all on him.

Of course, there have been plenty of research studies done that will prove me wrong and see influences made in my own gender conditioning and in society around him, so ingrained we didn’t even realise we were guiding him. But I feel my glitter and unicorn obsessed self, had little to do with the wheel obsession. Hmmm? Am I myself a by-product of gender conditioning?

Here is a picture of my son at two and half, who got mistaken for a girl while wearing one of his favourite costumes.

The entertainer

When it comes to our children;

Are there gender differences?

Is there a reason other than marketing, for the generalised preferences between childhood figures?

Is it our influence or is it our biology?

Honestly, I am not a scientist and am not about to start some research project to finalise results on the matter, but what I can comment on is what all children have in common.

They are ALL curious!

They are ALL playful!

They are ALL impulsive!

They are ALL in the moment!

They are ALL perfect!

I think this is why we never have a problem with gender divides when people hire our party characters. All our characters are modelled on the characteristics of a child. That purity of the moment, the inquisitiveness, the impulseness and of course the PLAY! ALL children can relate to the CraZy BeanZ characters, whether they are wearing a pink dress or a cape. Who cares? As long as they are engaging and fun, that is all kids want. They want to be noticed, they want to be involved, they want to feel safe and they want to play!

Do we provide gender neutral parties? YES!!! Princesses are not just for girls. I am yet to hold a princess party where the boys didn’t join in. In fact, I have had many personal invitations from boys to attend their parties next. I love the parents that follow through with these invites! It is a big HURRAY for individuality when we send a unicorn entertainer to host a boy’s unicorn party or Super BeanZ to a girl’s super hero party.

Not just for girls

Not just for boys

Party entertainment for every human BeanZ!