We supposedly live in an era where gender norms are to be broken, or at least regularly questioned.¬ Young men are into My Little Pony, 7-year-old girls not only read superhero comics but criticize their portrayals of women, and it is a sign of being a decent parent not to force your kid to like whatever stereotypically boy- or girl-themed shows, toys, movies, or books happen to match his or her anatomy.
So, as a father of a 5-year-old girl, I have tried to expose my daughter to a variety of possible interests, including things that are, according to some, “just for boys.”¬† While this has gone well at home and she has a diverse set of interests, the response when interacting with other kids remains the same as always: many boys her age don’t think she should be into Batman or Star Wars or whatever.¬† She should only be playing princesses and horsies and dollies according to them.¬† Frankly, I expected this response and can write it off as no big deal since they are other kids.¬† However, recently I’ve begun to notice the most annoying gendered assumptions and comments directed at my daughter aren’t those made by other kids . . . they are those made offhandedly by random adult women who have an occasion to talk to her.