When Pipouette was created 3 years ago, we already had this very strong conviction that we wanted to address all children, whatever their particularities, their religion, their culture, their color, their age and of course, their gender. . But we were not yet fully aware of the extent to which gender was rooted in society and education, down to emotions and their management.
“Stop crying if you want to be a strong man”; "Boys, don't cry!" ; "Don't act like a little girl, get up, you're okay!"
“She still has a whim, it's normal, girls are so whimsical”; “You're not pretty when you're angry”; “Don't worry, she whines all the time”; “She is very cozy, she complains for nothing”…
Expressions like these, one could cite hundreds. They surround us on a daily basis and honestly, they hurt our ears and our hearts. The challenge for us, parents of our generation, is to break these codes of gendered emotions, of the idea of men who control their emotions and women who externalize them, to deconstruct in order to rebuild a fairer society, based on gender equality and on human beings above all. Many scientific studies prove it, emotions, positive and negative, have no gender. Just like the brain.
Because over time, these gendered codes settle in and become impregnated, and it is through them that discrimination and inequalities are born. Children are sponges and they end up having the behaviors that are expected of them. No wonder then that from generation to generation, certain stereotypes and attitudes persist, driven by our preconceived ideas and our own upbringings.
But then how to break this vicious circle? We give you some tips:
It is important to keep all of this in mind to dare to show our emotions to our children, to verbalize them, without entering into gender conditions that have nothing to do with the emotion we feel. It is common for men, having themselves been little allowed to verbalize and express their emotions as children, to be blocked in relation to this and find great difficulty in exercising, even more so with their children – and a fortiori their sons. . Gentlemen, help yourself to Pipouette ! Make him (or her!) speak for you, put in his mouth the words that do not come out of yours. The distance created by a third object is often a big help.
We are the first role models for our children.
Without falling into parental guilt, you begin to know us, it must be kept in mind that very early on, the relationship patterns they build come above all from their parents and the adults around them. A child who has never seen his father moved but who has often seen his mother cry will necessarily have a different construction from the one who sees his father show his emotions and his vulnerabilities.
Conversely, a child whose father always has the role of “the one who gets angry or rages” will tend to associate anger with the masculine.
Let’s avoid the phrases “cliché”
They come to us most of the time without warning and without even realizing it. Of course, we don't want to hurt our daughter when we say, “Be nice and behave yourself now!”, or our boy when we say, “Get up, you're not hurting”. Our credo at Pipouette is to say that the parents do their best above all else, and that it is already a very difficult job to flagellate themselves all the time…!
Nevertheless, we can gradually gain perspective on the situations and expressions we use, first of all being aware of the impact they can have on children. The problem is not so much the word that escapes as the one that is repeated regularly, and which will therefore end up imprinting itself in the mind of the child as a truth. You know, those terms like sissy, cozy, tough, badass, daredevil…all those labels that stick around for a long time.
For emotions, it's the same thing. Let's keep in mind that an emotion is a passing state, a feeling, and that it is immutable, human and therefore by definition has no sex. It is the interpretation that we make of the management of this emotion that has one if we put something behind it. And then that becomes a stereotype like: girls cry and boys get angry.
From a general point of view, to know if an expression is sexist, we ask ourselves “Would I have formulated it like that to a child of the opposite sex? Would I have expected the same from a child of the opposite sex?” If the answer is yes, then we are probably in a genre cliché. It may seem difficult like that, but we assure you that over time it becomes an innate gymnastics and that very quickly, even our thoughts begin to change and this is reflected in everyday life!
Everything can start with Pipouette ! Pipouette is just Pipouette for this reason. Let your child choose whether it will be a girl or a boy (a female or a male?). And ask him what emotions he.she thinks Pipouette is feeling. You might be surprised to see that the clichés are much more in the minds of parents than toddlers!
Books, films, cartoons, toys…there are more and more cultural or playful resources that move away from stereotypes and break gender codes. Adventurous girls, sensitive boys, men who show their emotions, angry women; in children's literature in particular, authors and publishers pay more and more attention to varying the models represented. And be sure that this changes a lot in the education of our children!
Experiment with your little child to offer him games usually offered to the opposite sex (doll for a boy, soccer ball for a girl for example), you will see how he will be less sensitive to prejudice than us adults! It's good that one day we too didn't have these clichés in mind and that they were built up as we evolved and learned…!
For Pipouette for example, you can buy him several outfits , which your child can interchange; you will be surprised to see that received ideas, even concerning clothes, are much less present for your children than for yourselves!
Of course, school and nursery play a big role in the gendered education of our children. Things are moving more and more with early childhood professionals, it's still a bit complicated with schools and in playgrounds. We can't revolutionize everything all at once, but why not start by offering books or short films that break gender codes to kindergarten or primary classes?
Or even better, and if we offered Pipouette to the teacher for Christmas so that she could help all the little girls and all the little boys to express their emotions, equally?!