This holiday season, President Obama was all about breaking down gender stereotypes. It’s a good time of year to tackle the issue as the holidays tend to enforce gender conformity hardcore. Just walk into a toy store and you will see shelves upon shelves dictating to shoppers which toys girls “should” like, and which toys boys “should” be playing with. During a time of year where children are inundated with the reinforcement of stereotypes, they really need an adult with a lot of power and influence telling them it’s OK to be who they are and like what they like. And there’s not an adult around that wields more power and influence than POTUS. And this holiday season, Obama really made it clear that he has no use for narrow-minded gender stereotypes.
At a Christmas toy drive, Obama made a point of putting typically male-gendered toys in the “Girls” bin. He dropped a basketball into the bin for the little ladies, explaining to the volunteers “You know, I want to make sure some girls play with this.” With a Tee-ball set, Obama again headed for the girls’ bin, saying “Tee-ball. Girls play tee-ball, too.” He then informed the crowd watching that he was “. . .just trying to break down these gender stereotypes.”
Below, check out the impossibly charming video documentation:
At this toy drive, Obama was adamant about making traditionally-considered “boy toys” accessible to girls. He’s also all about making traditionally-considered female toys accessible to males, as was evidenced by an Instagram that recently surfaced of the president posing with a girl scout troop, everyone in the shot wearing plastic princess tiaras, Obama included.
As White House photographer Peter Souza explained in the Instagram caption:
“This is from the annual White House Science Fair. The kids from Girl Scout Troop 2612 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, convinced the President to wear a tiara with them for their group photo. The girls had exhibited a Lego flood proof bridge project.”
It may seem like just another photo op, but what we’ve got here are a bunch of girls with some serious STEM skills and a president casting aside gendered expectations to express solidarity with our future female scientists. All together, it’s kind of a win-win.
Thank you, Mr. President, for challenging gender stereotypes this holiday season. Our society can be so rigid when it comes to gender norms, and kids really do need someone they look up to telling them that it’s cool to do their own thing. Thanks for being that person.