Kids face off against sexism

"(They) said I could not play with dolls — and then I cried." 😱 These kids — as young as 5 years old — are speaking up about being shamed for not conforming to gender norms.

Kids share examples of sexism

Enforced gender expectations risk mental and physical health problems in children according to the Journal of Adolescent Health. Boys are made to be predators, and that girls are taught to feel susceptible to boys demands. Boys are conditioned to be strong and independent, while girls are categorized as damsels in distress.

What it appears like when these norms are violated looks somewhat different across cultures, like boys not playing sports, or helping their moms with household chores, or employing female gestures. But there are also some very consistent behaviors that are nearly universally seen as violating gender norms: boys wearing nail polish, girls playing football/soccer, and any kid wearing clothes stereotypically worn by the other gender.

Moreover, various studies found that gender norms lead to consequences for all children, both in the direct and long-term. Children who violate gender norms, especially nonconforming transgender and gender youth, are often bullied and harassed by their peers, and they may be corrected by their parents in shaming ways as well. Conforming to the norms isn’t much better the video explains.

Though the ideas of gender norms start in early childhood, they are solidified far more rigidly upon the onset of puberty, because the goal becomes preventing the adolescents from having sex. Despite the seeming universality of these norms, they are not determined biologically, the academics say, but socially. Children can be taught that they don’t have to conform to those norms and that they don’t have to pressure each other into doing so.

These kids are speaking out about the sexism they’ve already faced.