Grayson Bruce is a nine-year-old American boy who takes his sandwiches to school each day in his favourite lunchbox. Well, he did, until the other kids bullied him. Grayson’s teachers reacted by telling him to change his lunchbox. How helpful and understanding of them. The problem with said lunchbox was the picture on the front – My Little Pony, a colourful cartoon about magic horsies.
Said magical horsies were never my thing as a kid, but Grayson loves them, which is a problem to those around him, because they’re supposedly for girls. Grayson’s teachers have demonstrated their small-mindedness beautifully by telling him to change instead of punishing the bullies. Thank you, teachers, for your moronic action, as you’re proof that the blame for gender stereotyping lies with adults. I hereby chuck the boring old nature/nurture gender stereotyping debate out of the window.
Essentially a kid is going to make her own choice about what to play with but what’s essential is that the adults around her make these choices as broad as possible and remonstrate with those who try to narrow them. My friend’s son, aged three, used to happily dress up as a princess at nursery. The other idiot mothers outside the school gates commented on this incessantly. The kids may have thought nothing of their friend’s choice of costume until hearing their mum criticising it. Consequence – they learned that dressing up as a girl is bad if you’re a boy. Newsflash, idiot mothers: it isn’t.
Much of the marketing around kids’ products promotes sexism, and the Independent on Sunday’s decision not to feature children’s’ books marketed by gender is an excellent rebuttal to outdated thinking. More important than this, though, is for teachers and parents to encourage kids to explore their likes and preferences free from the constraints of perceived gender suitability.
Brilliantly, Grayson has won the support of the international Brony community – “brothers who like My Little Pony”. This band of grown men prove that you don’t even have to be a kid to like toys, let alone be of a certain gender. If you think it’s ridiculous for an adult man to put in a 12-hour day at the office and then come home to play with his My Little Ponies, well, at least it’s healthier than a whisky addiction, and really these men are leading the way in much-needed new thinking around gender stereotyping.Reuse content