A Mother Geek’s Rant: “Where are the girls hero tops mummy?”
My children have had no choice but to grow up geek; the people they spend the most time with outside of school are all grown up geeks eager to impart their knowledge on the next generation. It is inevitable that my children will embrace the likes of those they look up to.
This Christmas, just gone, the second item on my 9 year old daughters list was a Batman logo hoodie, I cannot express to you how proud that made me feel. She is growing up in a household where it is encouraged to have diverse interests and not to be restricted by societies view of gender roles. If she wanted to play with cars then so be it, she is a huge fan of Doctor Who, The Justice league MineCraft and many other typically viewed male interests. She currently also wants to be a game designer when she grows up. I count all this as a big tick for our parenting skills. However, today my heart was broken a little and my soul enraged.
Arriving at ASDA my two children, Xander (5) , Maddie (9) and I were confronted by an outstanding display of super hero themed clothes, hoodies, t-shirts, dressing up outfits. Both children immediately flocked to them rifling through. Then Maddie turned around to me and said “Where are the girls hero tops?” and she was right. Everything displayed was labelled boys, there were no Black Widow or Supergirl or Wonder Woman dressing up outfits; no Batman girls tops, not even the very commercially successful Avengers line had anything for girls. I would like to point out that this phenomenon is not solely a problem with ASDA, the same issue can be found in many of the major retailers of clothes.
I have begun to notice that women’s geek themed clothing is becoming a little more ‘available’ and by that I mean that on occasion I can walk into one of the big supermarket chains and by a Wonder Woman t-shirt. That said they are still not as available as I would like and I do still have to buy men’s which is fine I guess, but they aren’t quite cut right and therefore not as flattering as they should be. Nonetheless retailers are getting there. But what I think they are over looking in a very sexist way is the need for girls superhero/geek clothing to be available. Why are only little boys allowed to enjoy the adventures of superheroes? Why can Maddie not show her support for the Rebel Alliance? Why is she stuck with Hello Kitty and puppies? Why are there no Hello Kitty boys clothes? Do you see why I am mad?
I will admit that online I can find things more easily, if I am willing to pay the extortionate prices and delivery costs. But why should I have to; shouldn’t it be as easy for me to walk into a supermarket clothing section and pick up a girls Batman tee as easy as it is for me to walk in and do the same for my son? Am I the only person who thinks this is wrong?
Whilst I hope things have changed I suspect that both my children will have a hard time when it comes to high school. Children can be cruel especially if you appear to be outside of the ‘norm’ as people call it. I fear this will be doubly so for my daughter, girl geeks haven’t had the easiest time being accepted by their male counterparts. I have and will continue to reassure her that what the people think of you at school doesn’t matter, it is a relatively short experience in a hopefully long life. But when retailers, toy makers etc are reinforcing the stereotypes we fight hard to break, I have to battle, not only the few small minded people she will come across at school, but also societies point of view. No matter how hard this is I will continue to reassure her that what she enjoys, loves and idolises can be whatever she wants and it is everyone else who is wrong if they tell her otherwise.
So retailers and manufacturers take a hint, cater for both girls and boys equally when it comes to the likes of superheroes, Transformers, Star Wars, Hello Kitty etc You have a whole generation of children being brought up by geeks like me and you are missing out on our money but more importantly you are reinforcing stereotypes. Surely you don’t want my answer to the title question to be “I dunno sweetie, the company must be sexist, but don’t worry they are wrong and you are right” because that is exactly what I had to say today.