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Home>UPDATE: More parents are raising children without traditional gender roles

UPDATE: More parents are raising children without traditional gender roles

UPDATE: More parents are raising children without traditional gender roles

09/23/2017

By Kari Paul, MarketWatch

New survey of 12,000 people worldwide finds views of gender are shifting dramatically.

When Cody McBurnett, a 36-year-old mother and creative director living in Brooklyn, goes shopping with her 3-year-old son, she lets him pick out the clothes he likes, whether they are from the boys or girls section, as long as they are gender neutral. "Traditional roles are changing a lot," she said. "I would like to see them change a lot more, and a lot more quickly -- and if i can do my part by raising a caring good man who doesn't fit into the typical gender roles, that's great."

McBurnett is one of a rising number of parents raising children without the pink-and-blue binaries of the past. A new survey of 12,000 people across 32 countries from international marketing firm Havas found 61% of women and 46% of men (http://mag.havas.com/prosumer-report/gender2017/) believe children should be raised in as gender neutral a way as possible so as to avoid rigid gender restrictions. (In comparison, 39% of women and 54% of men would prefer to see girls and boys raised with gender-specific clothing, toys, etc.)

Marian Salzman, chief executive officer of Havas PR North America, said this shift in attitudes is being reflected by companies. "We are a country in transition," she said. "The retail landscape is starting to reshape perspectives on what is 'boy' and what is 'girl.' The groundswell is toward this a-gender lifestyle where gender is something people can pick and choose."

Indeed, gender itself is becoming a more antiquated concept, with 52% of women and 44% of men surveyed saying they agree they "do not believe in set genders, gender is fluid and everyone can be what they feel they are."

There is a growing body of research suggesting that rigid gender roles are damaging. A comprehensive study of children from 15 countries released this week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/rigid-gender-stereotypes-tied-to-increased-depression-violence-and-suicide-in-children-2017-09-20) found gender stereotypes can cause lasting negative effects, including violence, suicide and depression.

"We are almost in a post-gender society, meaning gender feels like an older issue," Salzman said. "People do not want to dwell on whether someone is a boy or a girl. We want to value the individual and their gender is just a part of who they are -- but also something they can assert and select."

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