The other day I was showing Nugget one of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers. Of course, he thought it was insanely cool and his favorite character happened to be Captain Phasma (really though, how could she not be?). Unfortunately, when I told him he was actually a she, well, he didn’t take it too well. He immediately insisted that girls cannot be stormtroopers and he definitely didn’t try to hide that he was mad about it. I asked him why and of course he didn’t have an answer, but in his 3 year old mind, that was unacceptable.
We have these gender battles a lot lately. I’m guessing they stemmed from kids at school with older siblings, and frankly it makes me sad. I’ll never forget the first time he came home and told me a girl in his class told him boys aren’t allowed to sing and dance. Now, my kid can be shy at first, and it’s pretty rare to hear him sing, let alone dance, but I know that crushed his feelings a bit. We used to love to sing together to Frozen and other songs in the car, but now whenever his favorite song comes on, instead of singing, he asks me to change it. He’s never ever been one for dancing, but I sure hope he doesn’t think he shouldn’t dance because boys aren’t supposed to. Of course we talked about this when it happened and I showed him videos of male singers and dancers, but I think that was the tipping point for him of boys can and girls can’t.
I do my best to show him that girls and boys can all do the same things, like the same colors, accomplish the game goals, but I realize that he’s 3, and I know this is part of his natural development in discovering gender roles, gender identity, etc. Times are different now and stereotypical female gender roles aren’t just for girls – and the same could be said for boys. At the end of the day, I just want him to feel empowered in his choices and to feel free to play or dress as he wishes because he wants to and not because someone else or society has told him otherwise.
Captain Phasma couldn’t have come at a better time for us. Sure, he may be mad she’s not a he, but he’ll get over it and hopefully in the process realize that girls can fight, lead, and be just as bad ass as boys have historically been shown to be. Immersing him in the nerdier side of life certainly makes this easier given the tipping of the scales where there are finally (although slowly) strong, smart, and not always overtly sexual, female characters in the lead.