The relationship between the sexes is high on the agenda thanks to the revelations of school harassment on Everyone’s Invited, children’s increasing exposure to porn and hashtags like #NotAllMen. But how are parents navigating this complex area? In this four part series of Bringing Up Britain, Anjula Mutanda sets out to find answers. She explores whether stereotypes matter, how to prepare boys for adolescence, the pros and cons of single sex education and how to parent children through the complexities of online harassment and abuse. In this first episode, Anjula speaks to Sophie, a mother who was adamant she would protect her children from society’s expectations of them, but finds herself with a toddler son who loves tractors and trains and a three-year-old daughter who loves pink and princesses. Sophie wants to know how these stereotypical interests get ingrained so young and whether it matters for her children’s future lives and relationships. Anjula brings together a series of experts from neuroscientists, to sociologists and psychologists to explore the gender norms children learn from the moment they are born and provide some answers for Sophie.
Dr. Brown talks to CBS News about gender and ethnic identity development.
Dr. Brown talks to National Geographic about the 2021 inauguration.
Dr. Brown discussed research coming from Bigeye’s 2021 Gender Study which sheds light on Americans’ sentiment toward gender-neutral parenting. Bigeye spoke to 2,000 U.S adults to examine the link between the parents’ upbringing and their approach and openness toward gender-neutral parenting.
“A lot of parents want to reduce gender stereotypes in general because they realize they are limiting and damaging, and associated with gender inequality in adulthood,” she says. “Other parents recognize that their kids may have a gender identity that’s not a clear part of the binary and they want to make sure their kids are feeling love and acceptance and inclusion.” At the same time “For boys, there is a really narrow definition of what it means to be a boy in this culture,” says Brown.
The survey found that 60 percent of cis females and 77 percent of cis males reported encouraging their sons to play with “boy” toys, while 56 percent of cis females and 71 percent of cis males did so with daughters and “girl” toys. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most likely group to encourage play with whichever toys or games interest their kids, regardless of gender association, are LGBTQIA+ parents, at 77 percent. While we have made progress moving beyond gender stereotypes, cisgender dad are still enforcing the old rules that boys should play with boys toys.
For more information about what kids know and think about the 2016 presidential election, check out SRCD’s Monograph Matters website. It includes teaching resources, videos, commentaries, and discussion questions.
My newest research on the impact of sexualization of girls on their academics.
“Girls live in a culture in which they see sexualized images of women and girls everywhere – on magazine covers at the grocery store, on Instagram and YouTube, on billboards, in movies, television, and music videos. According to research, by elementary school, children begin to stereotype those highly popular images of sexy women and girls as high in status, but not very smart. For both children and adults, being sexy is highly valued, but is seemingly incompatible with being smart. By the time kids enter middle school, they often believe that girls should be valued primarily for their sexual appeal and that boys should be focused solely on girls as sexual objects….
For the complete blog describing this new research, click here.
Children are interested in elections, and have strong opinions about candidates, but underestimate gender biases in politics and government. Read More on the Psychology Today blog.
When Mario Lopez did a radio interview and the issue of accepting kids’ gender identity came up, his comments went viral. Dr. Brown talks about the importance of accepting trans kids in this article for Fast Company.
Despite what soundbites make it into celebrity interviews, supporting children in their gender identity and expression will not lead to societal and psychological chaos. The real danger is in forcing kids into a rigid category that doesn’t fit with the child’s sense of self and in fostering a culture that says anything different than the stereotype is wrong or weird.