I was invited to be on BBC Radio Scotland's Kay Adams show this morning to discuss gender-neutrality, after Russell Brand has said that he will be raising his first-born child gender-neutral. (I didn't go on in the end as they "already had a Southern voice, and wanted to keep some of the commentators Scottish"). Fair enough.
Russell told Jonathan Ross while appearing on his TV show that he doesn't want his child with Laura Gallacher to be restricted by male or female labels.
"We don’t know the gender I may not even ever impose a gender upon it, let the child grow up and be the whatever the hell it is, never tell it there is such a concept," said Russell on the show.
Anyway... this got me thinking.
Gender neutral is a funny old phrase because the use of the word 'neutral' makes people think of beige, grey and drab colours, which sounds restrictive in itself. And yet, what gender neutrality is REALLY about is getting rid of the limitations that gender stereotypes create to give children more choice, which is what ClimbingTreesKids.com and the campaign I'm an ambassador for, Let Clothes Be Clothes, are all about. It's about more choice and less limitation.
Russell Brand doesn't want his child to be restricted by labels.
Of course, if you say you are raising your child gender neutral, the connotation might be that you are not going to raise that child as a boy or a girl. Perhaps you might even consider using the word 'hen', the Swedish gender-neutral pronoun, intended as an alternative to the gender-specific hon ("she") and han ("he")?
Or, maybe, like me, when I use the word gender neutral, I am talking about removing restrictions and limitations that gender stereotypes perpetuate.
Often, as humans, we make choices in reaction to the extremes that we are opposing so, in opposing gender stereotypes, raising a child as 'gender neutral' is finding an alternative to the overt gender stereotyping that has smothered our stores, screens and magazine pages, since the relatively gender-neutral 1970s, the decade in which I grew up.
For me, getting rid of gender stereotypes is not about getting rid of pink princesses or snarling monsters at the extreme end of perceived femininity or masculinity, because lots of children LOVE pink princesses and snarling monsters. No, for me, the way forward is to cater for the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of colour and motifs; the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of what it means to be a child without the need to label any of it as 'for girls only' or 'for boys only'.
Why? Because labels are restrictive. They lessen choice and remove our children's freedom to just be children and like what they like and play with what they want to play with and wear what they want to wear. No labels = no limits.
With that in mind, a few of us who have taken a stand to battle gender-stereotypes, are joining forces to create a collective called NO LABELS NO LIMITS.
We are stronger together and our goal is ultimately to enable our children to be proud to be all that they are, wear what they wear, play with what they play with and be who they are, without restrictions.
And, if Russell Brand wants to join us, he'll be more than welcome :-)
No Labels No Limits will include: