Why is it Socially Acceptable for Men, but not Women, to Hold Onto Childhood Interests?

an image of a girl playing videogames with two guys

When it comes to the intersection of gender, culture, and nostalgia, it becomes evident that societal expectations for men and women are vastly different, especially considering how adults are allowed, or rather, expected to interact with “childish” things.

While men worldwide continue playing video games and buying toys without facing much criticism, women face societal pressure to abandon such interests.

Video games, once seen as a pastime exclusively for children, have grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry with a vast adult demographic. Over the years, games have evolved, becoming a legitimate form of art and entertainment for adults. For many men, this evolution has made it socially acceptable to continue gaming well into adulthood.

Similarly, collecting action figures, Legos, or other childhood memorabilia is often seen as a harmless and even endearing hobby for many adult men. It's viewed as an avenue for nostalgia and a bridge to one’s younger self.

Women, on the other hand, face more rigid expectations. Activities or interests deemed "childish" are seen as immaturity or an inability to grow up. A woman who collects dolls or still enjoys a children's show might even be made fun of. The societal narrative suggests that women should transition from playing with toys to nurturing real children, and those who don’t follow this path are looked upon with skepticism.

These gendered norms, when placed within the context of Latine culture, become even more pronounced. Latine culture, rich in tradition, places a strong emphasis on family values and roles. Often, Latinas are expected to become the backbone of the family, taking on caregiving roles, and preparing to be mothers. The concept of "marianismo" – the idea that Latinas should be virtuous, sacrificing, and motherly, emulating the Virgin Mary – illustrates this perfectly.

an image of a little girl in a red dress holding a baby doll toyPhoto by Polesie Toys: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-girl-in-red-long-sleeve-dress-holding-a-baby-doll-toy-4491692/

Thus, a Latina woman showing interest in what society deems as "childish" might face stronger pushback than her counterparts in other cultures. The expectation is for her to mature quickly, often at the expense of her individual passions and interests.

Navigating societal expectations is a challenging maze that seems to expand with each turn. However, the question remains: Why should society dictate which childhood hobbies are deemed appropriate to continue into adulthood, all based on our gender?

These activities, often dismissed as 'childish,' can be therapeutic outlets that allow us to destress, express creativity, and maintain a sense of continuity in our lives. They're an echo of simpler times, bringing a sense of joy and comfort that can serve as a counterweight to adult pressures and responsibilities. In essence, there should be no guilt or shame attached to enjoying what we love, regardless of our age or gender. Let's not forget that self-care isn't just about diet, exercise, or meditation—it's also about allowing ourselves to partake in activities that bring us happiness and inner peace.

The hope is for a future where individuals' passions and interests are celebrated and encouraged, irrespective of their age, gender, or cultural background, where men and women alike can enjoy their love for video games, toys, or any other 'childish' pastime without fear of judgment or societal scorn.

After all, who said growing up means leaving behind the things that once brought joy?

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