Local professor of childhood sexuality agrees with TikTok dad that girls clothing is oversexualised

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"Our world has changed. The roles and responsibilities imposed on girls, especially, have changed". (Getty Images)
"Our world has changed. The roles and responsibilities imposed on girls, especially, have changed". (Getty Images)

It seems that the conversation on gendered clothing has surpassed the "pink is for girls and blue is for boys" debate after a fired-up dad went viral as he took to TikTok to vent his frustrations about looking for clothes for his newborn daughter.

The TikTok dad went on further to explain how clothes designed for newborn baby girls are "remarkably annoying" for a list of reasons, from overdone ruffles and glitter to clothes designed for baby girls being significantly tighter than those designed for baby boys.

A great debate surrounds the topic of gendered clothing in general, and whether it enforces unnecessary gender confines, but he brings attention to the issue that clothes generally designed for baby girls seem disturbingly oversexualised, in a way that compromises the comfort and convenience on no other basis than difference in gender. 

Watch his video here, and then read what a local expert gender expert, and moms, had to say about it.

Also read: INFOGRAPHIC: How to tell if a toy is for a girl or a boy

"Dominant norms shape how children think" 

Deevia Bhana, Professor of Gender and Childhood Sexuality at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, told Parent24 that "Gender is a lifelong project, and even dominant norms shape how children think, act and feel gender."

She explained that since the dominant norm in most societies is based on male power and heterosexual expectations, children's possibilities are restricted.

"There are punitive consequences when people do step out of these norms including shame, stigma and questioning of one's gender and sexuality," she said.

Bhana further elaborated that the issues with gendered fashion go beyond colour and seemingly catchy phrases but that the pinks and blues are a part of the oppressive binaries and hierarchical structures that shape male power and female submission.

"When children are raised to think that the world of based on men and women, pink and blue alongside heterosexual expressions based on this division, then we can understand why it is so difficult for those to come out when dominant ideas about how to live and be have already been entrenched much earlier in life in/through gendered fashion," she said. 

Also see: The difference between sex and gender: When do children develop their gender identity? 

"We're trying to get away from gender constructs"  

Given that the issue of "gendered" clothing has been brought back to the spotlight, parents are coming forward with their experiences of shopping for their little girls. 

Gendered fashion reinforces what we as a society are trying to get away from, mother and student Simone Cornelius told Parent24.

"As a younger generation, we're trying to get away from gender constructs. Having certain themes be a part of certain genders puts forth the idea that girls must love pink, glitter, fairytales, and so on, while boys must like dirt, cars, buildings and trucks," she told us. 

Cornelius described gendered clothing as stifling to the child's ability to express themselves as anything other than the box within which they have been assigned.

"[Gendered fashion] boxes and limits preference. It limits thinking - it's limiting not only for your child but also for you as a parent," she said.

"Our world has changed" 

Muano Ruswa, teacher and mother of one, told us that our world has changed.

"The roles and responsibilities imposed on girls, especially, have changed," she stressed.

"This is an ever-changing world, where a girl can be whatever she wants to be, and her clothes need to reflect that."

"Closing off opportunities" 

Parents and academics are calling for more awareness to be drawn to the subliminal messaging proffered by gendered clothing and are asking for gender-neutral clothing options as well as standard fit options across genders.

"We have made great policy strides in legalising gender equality and equality on the basis of sexual orientation," Bhama said.

However, gendered fashion forces selection based on heteronormative expressions of masculinity and femininity, closing off opportunities to choose how to live, she added. 


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