When it comes to kids’ products, we already gender everything from toys to toothbrushes, but apparently discipline needs to be coded in pink and blue as well. Enter: his and hers time-out chairs, for the parent who wants to get a head start on reinforcing sexist stereotypes.
According to Jezebel, the chairs are being sold by a number of online retailers on Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy. They come in pink, blue, and sometimes green, and they include gag-inducing little poems to let your son or daughter they’re acting outside of acceptable gender norms.
The “boy” chair talks about raising boys to be men and controlling their impulse to kick, shout, and fight. Apparently all boys just can’t control their crazy masculinity and it makes them want to beat the shit out of everything at all times. Who knew?
The “girl” chair, of course, talks about sugar and spice, being a lady, and not whining — because from the earliest age girls must be told that they’re whiny nags and being a “lady” means shutting the hell up about your opinion at all times. Here’s another variation of the girl chair that will make you lose your lunch:
— Danielle (@gottalooksharp) October 16, 2015
It’s not shocking that these chairs exist, but it is shocking that people are actually buying them. One Facebook seller has dozens of comments calling the chairs adorable and inquiring as to how much they are. On Pinterest, the chairs have dozens of re-pins, shares, and moms DIY-ing them. You have to wonder, what happened to the good old days when a timeout chair was a plain stool in the corner, five minutes sitting on your bed, or even just a stern talk at the kitchen table?
Studies have shown gendered toys and products encourage kids to hold stereotypical views of men and women, to bully others based on perceived standards of masculinity, and to stop playing in mixed gender groups much earlier than is developmentally appropriate. No matter how harmless they might seem, gendered products are contributing to damaging sexist views that our kids have to grapple with for their rest of their lives. Why voluntarily introduce it if you don’t have to?
If we want to eliminate gender stereotypes that limit our kids’ ability to grow into well-rounded individuals, we have to start by looking critically at the products we bring into our homes. A timeout chair will still work even if it isn’t sparkly and adorable. In fact, a plain one might even work better because it doesn’t look like a shiny new toy. Timeouts are teachable moments, but needless sexism shouldn’t be included in the lesson.