Friday 6 March 2015

Stereotypes and cake

I have the week off. I get almost nothing done when I have time off. For the past hour, I've sat on the sofa staring at this lion that Chotto-ma drew a few days ago. It's such a beautiful lion, isn't it? It has kind eyes. A zebra might have another opinion, but it has kind eyes. It also has a bow on its head, if you peer in closely. What's a big beast of a lion without a little red bow in his mane, right?

We like breaking stereotypes in this house, and ste-reo-types is a word Chotto-ma learnt early. Because, by lord, we're surrounded by them outside, we drown in them when we walk out the door!

We went to the John Lewis store to buy pyjamas for Chotto-ma the other day. Chotto-ma loves dinosaurs, and she loves sharks and penguins and anything that moves on all fours or sixes. But no sir, John Lewis begs to differ. Every interesting pyjama with dinosaurs and sharks had a sewn-in tag saying John Lewis For Boys. Wait. What's wrong with John Lewis For Kids, if you must assume I'm size-blind? I'm sure people can decide if they'd like to buy it for a boy or girl based on the child's personality and taste rather than sex? Yes, there was one lone dino-print pyjama in the girls' section, bless their generosity - but no points for guessing its colour. No, it wasn't pink. It was Very Pink.

And that brings me to the country's great, unspoken colour-code. Pink and Blue. When you have a baby, don't you dare confuse those two! Girls must gurgle in their prams in pink, boys in blue. Cover a little girl in a blue blanket only if you want to hear, "Aww, what a handsome little boy!"

And of course, there's the conversation I had at the hairdresser's some time ago. There was a lovely girl cutting my hair, and Chotto-ma trying to catch my chopped, wet strands before they fell to the floor. The hairdresser and I were chatting about this and that, as we usually do. She was talking about her job at the salon, so I asked her how she'd gotten into hairdressing. And she said: "You know, I was never much into school, so I did what girls do. I got into beauty."

And then there's the fact that Chotto-ma went to a birthday party where all the girls got little purple coin-purses in their party-bags and all the boys got large bugs preserved in glass cubes. And she came home a little sad. She'd really wanted the bug with its black hairy legs and cool shiny green body, but she was a girl, so a purple purse it was.

And there's the fact that at Chotto-ma's after-school club, when she and a friend were once playing with a box of Lego from the Star Wars series, an older boy came up to them, took the box away, and reminded them they they had the 'girl Lego' to play with, and that these were for the boys.

And there's the fact that you might know a little boy who loves playing with kitchen sets but you also know that you can never gift him a kitchen set for his birthday, without incurring the shock of his parents. He must be gifted a car, poor child. Or a football at the very least.

And the fact that a local children's magazine I was leafing through had an article called "Party Ideas for Boys and Girls", where the page was split in two - Boys / Girls, and the boys' section had science experiments, pirates, football and space. While the girls' section had a tutu party, flowers and fairies, cupcake baking, princesses and mermaids. Chotto-ma is obsessed with space and planets and all its galaxies, just as I was when I was young. She loves science experiments, which we often do at home with kitchen ingredients. But never mind all that - let's just put all the girls in sparkly mermaid costumes, shall we?

It's hard for children to find their own voice when the world seems to be so organised in their stereotypes. When they're seen as Boy or Girl, instead of People. Girls, especially, are constantly given subliminal hints about their 'role' in life. When you gift a girl a Barbie (I could write an entire post on everything that's wrong with that doll), and you buy a book called 'Facts on Fossils' for a boy, you are sending her a strong message, which will have far deeper repercussions than one might think. [Link to an interesting article on that below]

We do what we can to balance Chotto-ma's world at home, even if it means breaking the smallest stereotypes. I have a blue toothbrush and D has a pink one. We went out and bought them after telling her how people couldn't be coded by colour, how no one had to follow any set notion of 'Obvious'. And when we came back home from the hairdresser's that day, I showed her a photograph of the scientists who built Mangalyaan, the Mars orbiter. The photo showed a group of Indian scientists, all women, in beautiful silk sarees and flowers in their hair, punching the air as they made history in space technology. They'd probably also packed their child's lunch before coming in to work to build that rocket.

Chotto-ma sees D cooking as many meals as I do; because dinner is cooked by whoever has the time to cook it that day. And the house is cleaned, and clothes folded, by whoever has the time to clean the house and fold the clothes that day. There's nothing more to it - apart from the fact that you'll probably eat a little better if I cook the dinner. And you'll probably also get a slice of lovely cake after.

Are there stereotypes that bother you? Moments when you have found them frustrating as a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt? Stereotypes that annoyed you when you were a child? I'd love to hear your stories, for surely I'm not the only one who has them? My stories come from being the parent of a girl, but which ones do you face as the parent of a boy? I'd love to know, and it'd be good to have this discussed - please share the blog link on Facebook and elsewhere if you like.

And in the meantime, I'll give you a recipe for a mean orange-almond cake, which goes well with good old talk about things that matter. I've baked it thrice in three weeks. Well, Chotto-ma and I baked it together, even as we talked about planets, bugs, prehistoric creatures and other so-called 'boy things'. Because, there might be a set recipe for a cake, but there ain't no set recipe for a girl. Or a boy.

Added on March 10, 2015: A kind lady emailed me an article yesterday after reading the post. This article is from a US perspective, while mine is from the UK, but they say the same thing. It shows why seemingly small, market-created stereotypes can do deeper damage to our social structure, and handicap girls and women. Here's an excerpt from the article

"...contributing factors, according to academic experts I interviewed, include a culture that encourages young women to play with dolls rather than robots and pursue traditionally female careers, as well as the self-perpetuating stereotype that a programmer is a white male. Sometimes women can feel like they don’t belong in a technical world dominated by men.
Those stereotypes are based on reality, according to data released by some of the largest tech companies. Among the top employers in Silicon Valley, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple, 70% of the workforce is male. In technical roles, the disparity is even greater. At Twitter, for instance, only 10% of the technical workforce is female."
You can read the complete article here.

Orange and Almond Cake


1 cup plain flour
1 cup ground almond
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, pulp in
2 tsp zest of an orange
2 heaped tbsp of butter
2 heaped tbsp yogurt
1/4 cup oil (vegetable or sunflower)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (320 degrees F).
Grease cake tin with butter, keep aside. (I like my 6-inch, and deep, cake tin for this)
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl - flour, ground almond, baking powder, sugar, orange zest.
Make a well in the middle. Crack in the eggs. Add the vanilla essence, the butter, oil and yogurt.
Start mixing it in a circular motion. Pour the orange juice a bit at a time as you mix. Till it's a nice smooth batter, easy to stir.
Pour batter into cake tin. Bake for about 50 minutes, then slide a knife in to check if done. If it's still a little soft, switch off the oven, and pop the cake back in. Leave it there for 15 more minutes.

This cake has a beautiful crunchy crust when it's just out of the oven, so you must have a slice warm. But once it's cooled, wrap the rest in clingfilm and leave it on the table overnight. It's even better a day later, when the ground almond has released all its lovely natural oil.

You'll love it!

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  1. Lovely post Pia and something very close to my heart.
    It would bother me a lot too initially but as Big Sis has now turned eleven, I see that most of the stereotypes are more commercial and most children don't take it to heart. In my house both the girls love the color turquoise and their room has walls painted in different shades of blue. Most of Big Sis and her friends who are girls, dislike the color pink !!! Maybe an excess of it when they were tiny has turned them off or something! Some of them don't even like purple anymore!!
    I also have a huge box of basic Lego blocks which they and their friends play with. Little Sis also has a kitchen and lots of cooking stuff, as she loves anything around cooking but most of the food she makes is made of yellow-red lego blocks.
    There are some stereotypes I still see, like my girls don't want to play Minecraft. Just to get over the fact that it is a "boy thing", I wanted them to at least give it a try but prodding more I found they don't like the game because they are not fond of zombies and fighting.That I can live with :-)

    The stereotypes are clearly a marketing ploy.

    1. Yes, you're right, Sandeepa - stereotypes do often start in marketing, but unfortunately, marketing informs thought and action and moulds mindsets. It creates gender roles and paradigms of beauty, and those seep into popular culture and have a far more damaging, long-lasting effect on our daily lives.
      A 12-year old boy who thinks girls should play with 'girl lego', which is a Tinkerbell set, and not Star Wars, which to them signifies power, strength etc, has had these stereotypes reinforced around him many times over. And the probability of him expecting girls to do girl things even in the future, when it comes to home and family and career is higher. I'm one of the few working moms in R's class, while all the dads work. And R was recently told by her friends that ALL women get married and have children. They see it as a given, not a choice. It might start with blue and pink, but goes much deeper than that; and I'm afraid I do see children taking it to heart. Unless their parents have shown them, or told them, otherwise.
      I always wanted a daughter, and everything that comes with having a little girl. R loves going into my closet and dressing up, she loves playing with my necklaces, AND she loves space and animals. She doesn't enjoy football, and we see no reason to have her try it. Then again, she has never enjoyed dolls, she collects dinosaurs. She doesn't fit into any set box of being 'girl' or 'boy'. And I think it's hugely important to show children how to look at other kids as PEOPLE first, not a certain sex, because then, they'll be able to do that as adults. This is easier done when you have daughters (like you and I are trying to do), but sadly not as easy with boys - it's easier to paint a girl's room blue, than it is to paint a boy's room pink. Someone I know had to change her son's ballet class to tap dance because his friends laughed at him, and though he loved his ballet lessons, he didn't want to go through that.
      I could write an essay, so I'll stop here! But yay! for Minecraft being a 'no' - such mindless waste of mind-space.

  2. Hi Pia !

    I started following your blog since last year and am absolutely glad to have come across it. Your witty writing and delicious food create a perfect blend for my palate!

    This is a great post about the stereotypes that society harbors and its amazing how you make efforts to not let Chotto-Ma be affected by them.

    Here in India there is an uproar going on about the banned-by-govt documentary 'India's Daughter' regarding the Nirbhaya case. The way in which the accused and the defense lawyers speak, shows the way in which these small stereotypes about pink and blue, of kitchen ware and cars, of bugs and purses get manifested as bigger notions of women being submissive and the weaker sex. We need to truly break these notions, especially in Indian towns and villages for making a society that respects women and cherishes them !

    1. Thank you, Kshama! That was my point when I wrote the post. That small things seep into our blood and control the way we think culturally. The Nirbhaya case in India, was the shocking eruption of a volcano, but the tremors and cracks in the ground start from our homes, and in our social lives. From the time we dress up boys as superheroes, but girls most often as princesses. (And every princess in every fairytale is rescued by a prince). We need people to see the disbalance we create with seemingly small stereotypes. We need discussion. And that in turn will someday change the way the world is marketed.

  3. Hi Pia!

    That's a lovely article there.You have touched upon every aspect of stereotyping that surrounds this nation and maybe this is the reason why most women want to get away from this country! True, other countries are not entirely safe but at least they don't turn a deaf ear to the plight of women or don't show restrain in changing methods when it comes to bringing up boys and girls in much the same way!

    We would be ushering in a new era if everyone resonated this sentiment, men and women alike and then probably, there would be complete equality. Because we are humans first, before gender.

    @Kshama : Thanks for sharing this zingu bai :)

    1. Thanks for writing in, Shwetha! Funnily enough, I was speaking from a British perspective, since my daughter was born, and is growing up, here. Gender stereotyping lives and breathes everywhere, and bringing up boys and girls, is no more balanced here than anywhere else. Yes, the problems for women in India are far more worrying, especially in terms of physical freedom and safety, because the moment you step out on the street you're in a world that is verbally and physically intrusive. Here, at least I can walk without being on guard, or being ever-alert, like I had to be in India - and that is incredibly freeing. But misogyny exists everywhere, in different forms and in varying degrees.
      Thanks for joining a conversation which is important, no matter where you live - glad to have you here!

  4. Entirety agree with you on this. Change should start from us women then others will follow

    1. Yes, the change certainly needs to start from us. In how we bring up our children, and how we treat ourselves. Thanks for being here, Rekha!

  5. Reminded me of our childhood...i was a pretty nifty kite-flyer, and would wait for the sun to relent a bit, so i could race around the roof lifting aloft the colourful fragile bits of paper and shaky bamboo sticks. My brother was the designated latai holder...I never saw other girls flying kites, and would be stared at by boys in the neighbourhood...flying kites is apparently a 'boy thing'! Thank God we had no such rules in our house... :)

    Loved the yum recipe...can't wait to try it Pia.

    1. Oh, I can imagine you being a nifty kite-flyer and not giving a damn about staring eyes. I love you for that, AD - you're a not-give-a-damn kind of person.

      Bake the cake, I say! I think you'll like it.


  6. Pia, this post is right after my own heart. Yes, we are surrounded by stereotypes and breaking them is easier said than done. I never played with dolls as a child (was very much into cars), and now that I have a little boy, I don’t try to “make” him play with one thing or other. His interests grow and change from day to day and I am fine with it. We follow the same rules as in your house - Mom and Dad both get involved with housework and such, no set specific roles or rules. By the way, we love kitchen experiments as well, our current favorite being the one with baking soda and vinegar (we add colors and soap bubbles to it).

    And while it's true that I didn’t color his room pink (not a fan of said color), I am thinking of getting him a Peppa Pig dollhouse. One of my friends recently got her son a kitchen set because he loves to cook (and bake). These are the easy fights, as you have rightly pointed out, the going gets tough when it is something like getting him enrolled in ballet should he want to try it.

    As for the boys getting awesome bugs and the girls those purple coin purses, that makes me so mad, Pia. I can imagine how Chotto-Ma must have felt. The way you have described the bugs, it makes me want to have a few. To think somebody went through the trouble of getting separate gifts based on a child’s gender. Ugh.

    Thanks to some article I read years ago, I follow this simple rule wherein I never compliment a little girl on her looks. I try to make conversation about her interests, her books, or for that matter anything under the sun which does not involve the words “cute" and “pretty”, and the like. Anyway, thanks for this insightful post, I am going to share it on Facebook and Twitter and pretty much any social site I know of.

    On a side note - Is there any substitute for eggs in your orange cake recipe? I want to try it but my son is severely allergic to eggs.

    1. Thanks so much for this comment, Esha! It was good to read.

      I love your 'simple rule'. It reminded me of an author's recent interview in which she says that every time her work is discussed, the introductory sentence often is: 'Today we're talking about 'Blah Blah Book' by the gorgeous/beautiful/other-synonym 'Insert Author Name'; but never has a male author been introduced as 'the handsome/stunning Mr Blah Blah.' So, your rule is wonderful - thanks for sharing it here.

      About the cake: you know, I once forgot to put in the eggs in a very similar recipe. I mixed everything in, thought the mix a little tight, still didn't remember the eggs, so added some more yogurt to make the batter more flowing, and then popped it into the oven. And it turned out fine! So I'd just replace the egg with two more tbs of yogurt, and a tiny bit more sugar to balance if you need. Please let me know if you try it - it'll be an alternative tested!
      So sorry to hear about his allergy though :-( That must make things very trying for you when you're out or travelling.

  7. Tandra, wrote me this wonderful, heartfelt email, and I told her I'd like to share it here. There's a word-limit on comments apparently, so here's some bits from her email in two parts:


    First things first, thanks for writing on this topic and for asking people to get involved and to open up about things that bother them, related to this topic. Well, it does bother me a lot, as a woman and more so now, as a mother. Growing up, my parents, especially my father was very supportive of us and taught us to follow our dreams and speak our mind, even if that meant going all the way against anything conventional…for his time and age, he was a very hands on dad, and he has stood time and again by us and for us (by us I mean for me and my sister) against a lot of conventional expectations of society. So, the propensity to not follow the mass ( or as he says the herd mentality) and do what we wanted to do or say was ingrained in our way of thinking very early on. And perhaps that has shaped up to a large extent who we are today. I am lucky to be married to a man who loathes stereotypes equally and tries to be a very involved partner in our household and a very hands on daddy, for the most part.
    Well, growing up in India, I have seen, faced and fought when needed against a lot of these stereotypes, and I still do. And a lot of them, I have just learnt to ignore for the most part. But nothing prepared me for the moment when we had to pick the first outfit for my first child, before he was born, in one of the most advanced nations in the world (USA). I knew this blue pink issue existed, but nothing prepared me until i was faced with the reality of it. I was almost mad, that I had to pick colors to label my child…We were not going to do that...We had decided not to find the gender of our baby, and so we picked all neutral colors for his clothes and accessories. All this happening in a country where we tend to think that the concept of gender equality and breaking stereotypes is not as backward a concept, as in my homeland.

  8. 2:

    One particular incident, that boils my blood still now happened when my elder child was 5 year old (no 9). I had a very close relative visiting us. As I picked him from school and drove him home, he was sulking and upon prodding burst into big tears as he had a rough day at school. I went on with my usual talks to calm him, but we reached home when he was still crying his heart out. As we entered the house, this said relative looked at my son and out of concern asked why he was crying. My son, through his tears narrated the story as best as possible. Once this person heard my son, he just commented oh, thats it and you are crying LIKE A GIRL ? Come on buddy, don’t act like a sissy, get tough !!!…I completely and totally lost it right there. Yes,I know kids need to be tough and all, I tell that to my son everyday that be strong for yourself and for others who can’t be strong for themselves, but I would have told my daughter the same too, if I had one…I fought back saying that yes he needs to brush off and move on, but he does not have to be extra tough because he is a boy…it’s bullshit to say to a little boy that it would be justified for a girl to cry over this, but not the same for a boy…You see, he was five and he barely knew that typical societal norm that “MEN DON’T CRY” and all…and I never wanted to put such notions in his mind…if there is something that bothers him that much that he needs to cry, by all means go ahead, do it…I don’t think he needs to bottle up his emotions and act tough, when he actually is not able to be tough at that moment…I ended up in a huge argument with the said person, and gave him a good piece of my mind and probably lost tons of brownie points…but i hardly care since, to me, the sanity of my child is far more important than these notions…And it hurts my heart to realize that this same child, who is now 9, is already trying to act tough when he would rather cry...Recently my best friend visited us, and he is very fond of her. When she was leaving, she hugged him and shed a few tears and he looked extremely uneasy. As soon as the car left, he told me that he already misses XY aunty and that he wanted to cry but did not want her to see him cry…And as he said this, he could no more act tough and tears were rolling down his cheeks…and i can’t express my feelings at that moment…I was hurting, i was left speechless, and i did not say anything in that tender moment...I took it up with him later and talked about it, and told him that it is perfectly okay to show his emotions when he feels them, that he does not have to think what others are thinking about him, what matters most is what and how he thinks and feels at that moment !!!
    You see Pia, I can go on and on, but just wanted to share a few incidents that have bothered me a lot as a mother, about these stereotypical notions…perhaps when we become parents, we can’t just shrug stuff off as easily, as we would otherwise, or if the same thing was happening to us…

  9. I loved how you began this post through your daughter's beautifully drawn picture (look how she invested the lion with such gentle, almost doe-like eyes!) to introduce a subject which has often preoccupied my attention, particularly as it concerns the intersection of color and gender, two things which I am very interested in. Also, I was born in Australia and acquired the nick-name, Pinka as a result of an Australian baby-sitter who couldn't pronounce my name and decided to re-name me:) The double association of that of my name and the fact that I was a girl automatically meant assumptions that I was for all things pink - and which infuriated me. Many years later, it is not as if I dislike pink - I appreciate it but purely because of personal individual preference. However, my favorite color is blue and while I enjoyed playing with dolls as a child, I also equally (if not more) loved collecting rocks, researching about galaxies and outer space, and was simply a case of what I was inclined to do so, rather than being 'expected' to like/pursue. I have always been resistant towards either upholding or expecting others to conform to stereotypes, whether it's even a case such as all Indian girls love to dance (well, I don't and I am not terribly bothered about it:) Color-coded gender stereotypes insidiously finding their way through product packaging or costume is as dangerous and we must make every attempt to challenge and resist it. There are so many wonderful colors in the world and it is a pity that we must box ourselves and especially our growing children in just two!

    Well, I can go on and on but shall end here - thank you for such a thought-provoking post and in turn, I would like to share a link of a work of an Korean artist dealing with this very subject. A friend sent it to me on my birthday last year, mentioning that it reminded me of her, given its preoccupations with color and gender. Hope you find it interesting too!

    Here it is:

    1. Thank you for adding such a thoughtful note to the discussion, Priyanka. Yes, being born in a country outside your own can bring a more complicated string of stereotypes; one where gender often gets topped with colour. I could write a whole post on that, especially after bringing up a child here. Many of these conventions/stereotypes/prejudices become more noticeable as a parent as your child tries to straddle two cultures, food, two or more languages, or even house-rules that are different from those of her friends.
      I can imagine your frustrations: a girl with Pinka as her nickname certainly wouldn't have had a way out :)
      Thanks so much for sharing JeongMee's thesis too - it just takes colour coding to a different sphere, and urges thought, doesn't it? Like you said: "Color-coded gender stereotypes insidiously finding their way through product packaging or costume is as dangerous and we must make every attempt to challenge and resist it." I couldn't agree more.

  10. Oh, I don't remember any stereotypes that I was bothered about as a child. I just wasn't as aware as I am today, and neither were my parents. Today, I am bothered when Bubboo gets gifted clothes all in pink - I got so fed up that I went and bought her a lot of clothes in other colours. I dress her up in all colours now.

    1. Yes, I think we all start noticing it more strongly once we have children of our own. As children ourselves, we probably just accept stereotyping as part of the culture, part of the family structure, so don't notice them at all.
      Well done for getting Bubboo out of the colour bracket!

  11. Delicious cake. Sexist stereotypes I am not such a fan of. I have always dressed my babies in blue and red regardless of gender, and just nodded and smiled when my son was called a girl and vice versa! Please tell Chotto Ma it makes me mad too. In fact, this very morning, I was not allowed to sign for a parcel for my husband. It's even more behind here!! :/

    1. Argh! at not being able to sign for that parcel! I bet you, like me, are not very good at giving someone a piece of your mind. I always have beautiful, scathing retorts come to b
      me after the person has long left.

    2. Hahaha so true, I make up a lot of the fight that I was supposed to give, in my mind later !!! But I am getting better at it slowly :-)

    3. Yes, my imaginary rehashings are always pitch-perfect, Tandra :)
      If I can ever come up with a good retort to rudeness, I'll treat myself to something nice!

  12. Pia, I collected random thoughts on this into a post here and linked back to yours:

    I'd like to hear more from parents of boys. Perhaps because I know so little of their experience having grown up with a sister myself and now raising a daughter.

    Sometimes I feel we have it easier as parents of girls, since the whole empowering the girl child/breaking the glass ceiling etc. is so much part of our societal discourse. I feel like there isn't quite enough conversation on the corollary, on the pressure on boys to men.

    Aside, I replied to the cake question on instagram.

    1. Yes, like I said, boys often have a harder time. It's hard to have them grow up to be sensitive, emotionally secure adults when the world is determined for them to be 'tough'.

      Thanks for extending the conversation with your blog post, Lakshmi! I dropped by a while ago and left my thoughts on the page.

  13. Such an interesting post! And all of it is true. I totally agree with your point of view. The change is so needed. it is really hard to grow your boy as a strong man and sensitive man in the same time. Thanks for sharing this post.
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  14. I love androgynous clothes, the brougues, the boyfriend cut jeans, I even own a tie. They have so become a norm. It's a runway staple, there's even a unisex section at Selfridges. Fashion seems to have moved forward like that, it gives you a scale. Drag to the 'girly girl' side or the androgynous side, up to you, there's a choice. Goes with the whole freedom of expression discourse et al. But when I started shopping for my 3 month old girl it felt like that choice was being taken away from me, instead I was being told. "Hey parent, this what your girl should wear/play/do/think, see we've labelled them neatly for you so you don't have to apply your intellect or individuality". Oh the simple, straightforward and binary world of children!

    The whole labelling thing that is unequivocally fought in the adult world seems so acceptable in kid's world.

    Pink dresses is where it all starts but it's the other bits that worry me more, like the toy divide. It's damaging at so many levels. It's subliminally influencing life choices! And god forbid if a girl breaks the rules and plays with cars, she'll grow up to say how she was a bit of a tomboy. So goes on the endless cycle of stereotypes.

    Then there are other influences like books where the doctor is always a man, the powerful animals are misters. A study actually found that children's books in 2000s are even more sexist than in the 1900s.

    Anyway, le'me end this rant on a more positive note :) good news for our daughters is that things are changing, even though it amazes me it took this long. There are these niche rebellions like fashion start up Princess Awesome (because girls can wear dinosaur prints too) and then there are bigger glass ceilings being broken like in the male bastion of the comics world, Marvel is writing a host of strong female characters, including a female Thor. All hail these little leaps.

    1. About books being more sexist today - absolutely! Growing up, I read a lot more books about gutsy little girls out on adventures, with overalls and scraped knees. Chotto-ma brought home a book from school some time ago - a recently published book - which on first sight looked like a story about a girl who wanted to be a knight. When I started reading it, every page had this little girl going to different people and telling them how she'd like to be a knight, and how they all laughed and told her 'only boys can be knights'. I turned each page expecting the story to take a turn, only to come to the end where, by some magic, she finds herself in King Arthur's round table and all the knights too are pointing at her, laughing at her desire to be a knight, while she stands with a sad defeated face holding a little sword she had made for herself. AND THAT'S WHERE IT ENDS! I thought the last page has surely been torn off, but no, there it was: 'The End'. I just found it impossible to believe that someone had actually written that story, which had then been published, which had then been bought for a school library. Of course, I wrote a note to the school, and probably came across as 'the obsessive feminist mum', but hell, you've got to fight your puny fights.

  15. Hi Pia, I have been a silent reader of your blog for quite some time and I have enjoyed my journey along with your eyes, your description!
    I meant to thank you for this cake recipe, simple yet brilliant!

    Will come back again soon.



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