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Small revolutions in everyday language about gender stereotypes

Ideas to avoid stereotypes in our everyday language

Carlotta Cerri

These are small revolutions in the language of stereotypes that we can all choose to apply in our homes and families:

  • Avoid using, in everyday language, words such as man/woman, male/female, boy/girl. Replace it with "person". This could automatically help remove from our vocabulary wrong and stereotyped phrases like “Boys don't cry”.
  • Show people doing sports stereotypically of the opposite gender: footballers like Abby Wambach and dancers like Josué Ullate. In the guide of the Montessori Dance booklet we talk about this too.
  • Do not stereotype toys: buy a doll for a boy and a truck for a girl.
  • Do not stereotype practical life: fix things, cooking, hammering, cleaning are jobs for both men and women. Let’s also try to break these stereotypes in the house, if they are present.
  • Choose "inverted" colors: pink toothbrush for dad, blue toothbrush for mum. Or let's just avoid stereotypical colors all together.
  • Explain the word stereotype: A stereotype is when we think that all people in a given group are the same. "Girls have long hair" is a stereotype; "Boys play soccer" is a stereotype. This applies to much more: "Italians don't know how to queue" is a stereotype; "Germans are on time" is a stereotype; "Boys marry girls" is a stereotype.
  • Use the word “stereotypes” in your language: when in the shop we see boy's clothes with rockets and footballers and girls' clothes with unicorns and princesses, let's talk about it with out children: “This is called stereotype. Why can't a boy t-shirt have a unicorn? Can't boys like pink?".
  • Offer real life: “Do you know what a princess is like in real life?”. And we show photos of real life princesses, such as Haya bint Hussein, princess of Jordan; Charlene, princess of Monaco (and former Olympic swimmer); Mako, princess by Akishino.
  • Point out stereotypes in books: the mom who cooks and the dad who goes to work (say that there are many families where this is the truth, but it is not always this way). Talk to your children about why these roles originated, how much inequity of mental load and therefore suffering they can create in many families and why it is right to challenge them etc.

What other ideas do you use in your family to avoid or talk about stereotypes?

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