Of Superheroes and Stereotypes

by Samantha on October 3, 2012

My sons think that they’re Batman and Superman, respectively. I beg to differ.

That being said, the fact that they identify with superheroes in general gives me pause. Is it because of me and my not-so-subtle direction towards the more “manly” toys that have made my boys want them so desperately? Or should I blame external factors such as daycare, TV and well-meaning relatives who come to visit bearing gifts? The answer may not be so clear, however it’s irrelevant to some degree as the proof is in the pudding: the twins are two walking stereotypes.

What do I mean by that?

Well, one only has to take a quick glance at their attire (of which is already a concern to them) to understand this assertion. The boys’ entire wardrobe is rife with images of “male-oriented” characters and imagery, much to my chagrin. Batman. Superman. Transformers. Let’s not forget about the requisite cars, trucks and motorcycles that also adorn their clothing.

Much of these clothes were indeed purchased by yours truly, but not without some input from the galleries. It has quickly become clear that each item that is to be worn must meet the standards of the the three-year-old judging panel. Frogs, snails and puppy-dog tails notwithstanding, there are some “must-haves” that the boys will wear that fall within the following parameters:

  • Shirts with superhero logos on them
  • Pants with superhero logos on them
  • Underwear with superhero logos on them
  • Shirts with cars, trucks, motorcycles or any type of vehicle that has big wheels
  • Pants with cars, trucks, motorcycles or any type of vehicle that has big wheels
  • Underwear with cars, trucks, motorcycles or any type of vehicle that has big wheels
  • Black, grey, blue, green, brown are the colors of choice. Very little of anything else

Now one may wonder how children so young could possibly have an interest in their attire but they do. Surprisingly, these two boys have a fairly strong (if not well-thought-out) idea about what they should and should not be wearing.

Why?

This is where the nature/nurture argument is usually invoked by those on both sides of the fence. If you’re of the mindset that we’re “hardwired” to do and think a certain way, you’re on the side of nature. If you believe that external factors, such as environment, family teachings, and similar are responsible for our behavior and choices, then you’re on the side of nurture. Full disclosure: I am firmly entrenched in the “nature” side of this argument, though this blog post is all about my questioning of whether I may be wrong. After all, I have whether consciously or otherwise, encouraged my sons to play with toys that are aimed towards boys. I’ve bought them Hot Wheels and trucks. I’ve added to their collection of Thomas the Train figures. I’ve even added to their obsession with the Disney Cars Movie franchise by adding logo-embossed items to their toy and clothing collection.

The question is, really, would their propensity to lean towards “boy” toys be different if I had given them other items to play with? For example, if I had provided them with dolls, furry stuffed animals and pink dress-up clothes, would they take to them? Is it just a question of availability in terms of what they like; a kiddie version of the “supply and demand” model of economics? In this preschool version, I supply the male-oriented goods; they continue to demand more.

Some would argue that indeed, it’s all about availability, parental and family influence and external factors such as daycare, friends and playgroups. Children are easily swayed and malleable many say; to this end, they “go with the flow” and take what is given to them. Others would say that regardless of what is put in front of them, boys will be boys and that’s all there is to it.

Now that I’m the parent of two boys, I am firmly entrenched in the latter camp.

Having had both boys and girls, I can say from experience that there is a marked difference between the sexes that goes well beyond external influences. With my girls, sitting quietly and reading a book, or playing quietly while I cooked were common occurrences. With my boys – no such luck. The word “rambunctious” does not even come close to the craziness that accompanies my twin boys’ presence. It is pure mayhem. Now maybe it’s just my kids, but I’ve heard this from more than one parent of both sexes.

And let’s not even discuss the desire to climb and “conquer” anything in their path. My boys will try to scale anything and everything – fear begone. My girls? Not so much.

Okay, so my “research” and observations are anything but scientific, but I do believe there is a nugget of truth in my findings. Ask any frazzled and weary mother of boys and you’ll get your answer. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, I’d say that girls will be girls and, brace yourselves, folks,  because boys will be boys.

Image courtesy of www.wikipedia.com and www.vectortemplates.com

VIDEO: Batman 1960’s TV Show Intro

 

VIDEO: Superman 1950’s TV Show Intro

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Image courtesy of www.savvymom.ca

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