The short answer to the question posed in the title is yes. While it may seem as though the #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements have nothing to do with young children, the experts tell us that sexism does indeed begin in early childhood. In fact, psychology professor and author of Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, Christia Spears Brown, told me in a recent interview for Studentcentricity, that sexism begins at birth! And when we consider the pink and blue phenomenon – and how differently girl babies are treated from boy babies, even prenatally – we have to admit that what she says makes sense.
Sexism begins with gender stereotyping, which is all too easy to reinforce. Christia and other experts contend that every time teachers say something like, “Good morning, boys and girls,” attention is given to gender. And the more often statements like these are made (“Boys line up here, girls line up there.” “What a good girl you’re being.”), the more children get the message that gender matters – a lot. And that’s when they start making black-and-white generalizations about the meaning of gender.
Yes, I know; statements like these seem perfectly innocent! But what if they’re not?
According to a Slate article on this topic, “The more ingrained kids’ gender stereotypes become, the more easily they conclude that girls are inferior to boys—that boys have higher status because they biologically deserve it.” Studies have also shown that “the more strongly boys believe these stereotypes, the more likely they are to make sexual comments, to tell sexual jokes in front of girls, and to grab women.”...