This is probably the most random topic I have thought of for my blog but gender neutrality and gender fluidity are areas that have fascinated me a lot lately, particularly in terms of my own experience as well as in the world of online videos, children’s literature and showbiz. To me gender neutrality refers to something that appeals to both males and females as well as when someone feels they don’t belong to either gender while gender fluidity to me means that a person can constantly change which gender they most closely identify with.
For me I have always identified myself as female but when I was a child I enjoyed watching programmes that many would perceive as mostly being aimed at boys such as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (the UK title of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in my childhood) because in the former two of the Rangers were girls and Trini, the one dressed In yellow, was my favourite (yellow is my favourite colour too) while the latter had a female character called April, which I found very flattering because not many fictional characters are named April so in my book both these shows can be enjoyed by both genders. Besides the aforementioned programmes I also enjoyed watching cartoons that many might say are predominantly aimed towards girls such as the original series of My Little Pony and Care Bears as well as those that are considered gender neutral such as Rugrats. With regards to how I dressed when I was growing up I liked to wear a mixture of skirts, dresses and trousers but there were a few occasions where I dressed up as male fictional characters such as Peter Pan from the Disney film of the same name in a sponsored walk, Mr Hoppy from the Roald Dahl book Esio Trot when my sister (who played Miss Silver) and I put on a play for our mum that was based on the book and the Tinman from The Wizard of Oz in a fancy dress contest on holiday at Butlins Bognor Regis. As a child I did not know what gender fluidity was but looking back I might have identified myself as male on the outside but female on the inside, therefore I could have been gender fluid at these times without realising it.
In terms of online videos I watch quite a few YouTube channels that I consider as gender neutral. Examples of these are WatchMojo.com, FBE (Fine Brothers Entertainment), the REACT Channel (spin-off channel of FBE) and Krispy Smore (a Disney and lifestyle channel hosted by a girlfriend and boyfriend couple named Stephie and Dave). While WatchMojo.com caters to both genders, they have a sister channel called MsMojo that is mostly aimed at a female audience due to the fact that when WatchMojo.com released their statistical 10 million subscribers special video, only 17% of their subscribers were female so they decided to create a channel that is of wider interest to females.
Besides MsMojo there are some other channels I watch that I believe are predominantly targeted towards females such as Zoella, Sprinkleofglitter and Brogan Tate. In Brogan’s video about her positive experience with taking the pill she says that most of her viewers are girls but says that a few males watch her channel too although one video of hers that could be aimed towards both genders is her his and hers ski haul video that she did with her boyfriend Benji because it features skiing essentials for both men and women.
Moving onto children’s literature now. Several years ago I attended a part time writing for children course and during this time I went through a phase of reading children’s books whether they were from my own childhood or new releases. Examples of the new releases at the time were two illustrated story treasuries published by Usborne: one for boys and one for girls. More recently however, I decided to revisit the Usborne websites to see if they still sold those books and they did albeit their titles were now completely different. While the treasury that was initially marketed towards boys is now called Thrilling Illustrated Stories, the one that was originally targeted towards girls is now entitled Magical Illustrated Stories. I soon figured that Usborne decided to change the titles to more gender neutral-sounding ones and I chose to carry out some further research on this. I found an online news article from The Guardian that said publishers such as Ladybird and Usborne would no longer publish books with gendered titles. In addition to this Usborne also sells a combined edition of Magical Illustrated Stories and Thrilling Illustrated Stories called Illustrated Stories for Children, which is a very good idea because certain stories in the book might appeal to both genders. Usborne did something similar with books initially known as Illustrated Classics for Girls and Illustrated Classics for Boys by changing their titles as well as combining both books into one and simply naming that combination Illustrated Classics for Children although this was available before the two separate books had their titles altered. When my dad was at school he read The Secret Garden and Moonfleet, both of which feature in the Illustrated Classics for Children treasury so I believe both boys and girls can enjoy these stories, likewise with The Wizard of Oz and Around the World In Eighty Days. Three other Usborne treasuries that I own and could appeal to both genders are Illustrated Fairy Tales, Illustrated Stories for the Holidays and Illustrated Stories for Christmas due to the fact that neither contain, “boys,” or, “girls,” in their titles.
Left: Illustrated Stories for Girls and Illistrated Classics for Girls are now named Magical Illustrated Stories and Illustrated Classics – The Secret Garden and other stories respectively. Right: A selection of Usborne illustrated treasuries that should appeal to both genders.
With regards to gender neutrality as gender identity, one notable example of this is of the singer Paloma Faith wanting to raise her child as gender neutral. I found this decision of hers very intriguing because I believe children wanting to chose which gender they wish to identify with as they grow older is an essential part of modern society. Another gender identity I found astonishing was gender fluidity, which means that anyone who classifies themselves this way believes they are male on some days and female on other days or a mixture of both genders regardless of the gender they were born as. In 2016 Will Smith’s son Jaden became the face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear range due to Jaden’s gender fluidity. Will has described Jaden as, “fearless” with regards to him not caring about what people think of him for participating in the womenswear campaign.
In conclusion I have learnt that gender neutrality has more than one meaning and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. I have also learnt that gender neutrality and gender fluidity have different definitions and I have applied both these identities to aspects of my own childhood, therefore I have never looked back on those aspects in the same way again.
Links to YouTube channels and Usborne website
FBE YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheFineBros
REACT Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/React
Krispy Smore: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnEucarQRlFRmBVJ5SyX5CA
Brogan Tate: https://www.youtube.com/user/brogantatexo
Usborne Children’s Books website: https://usborne.com/