Yesterday, in Whole Foods, ‘walking dead sexism,’ grabbed me with its ghastly outstretched arms. I was eye-balling the baby toy and accessory section (yes, WF has one), with thoughts of my grandson in mind when I picked up a pack of bibs with sayings on them. One said “Here comes trouble.” Another said, “Master of the Universe.” Both were lettered in blue, with a curly-haired baby boy smiling at me from the cardboard tag. Hmmmm. I looked at the rack again, and sure enough, a pink-lettered pack with a baby girl on the tag hung there as well. With dread rising, I read the top bib. “Drama Queen.” Another bib had a picture of an apple with one bite taken out and the words, “I’m saving this for later.” I suppose it could have said, “Mistress of Anorexia.”

In the great nature/nurture debate, there’s no question that we are born with gender differences, but I’ve never believed they were as great as the difference imposed on us by culture and upbringing. (See the STILL relevant “Growing Up Free”, by Letty Cottin Pogrebin) Boys don’t benefit from the stifling insistence that they live up to masculine stereotypes (mastering the universe!), but women suffer far more from the early and endless cultural messages that seek to disempower and trivialize us.

Where are the roots of sexism? Take a left out of the produce department in Whole Foods and stop at the cute display of baby books, toys, teething rings and bibs.

No Whole Foods’ bibs for you!

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