The future lies in the hands of children “whether we like it or not,” Jimmy Kimmel explained last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. It’s for this reason that it’s so important that everyone—yes, everyone—positively reinforces images and ideas of equality in order to raise children in a more forward-thinking world. With the 2016 presidential election swiftly approaching, Jimmy wondered whether or not children, a.k.a. the future, might already have a more “even-handed take” on gender discrimination when it comes to politics. So he put together a group of kids—two girls, two boys—to ask them their thoughts on whether or not women can be presidents. Their answers were, for the most part, devastating.
Sydney, Jaden, Belle and Andrew sat down with Jimmy to give their thoughts on whether women are capable of being President of the United States. Jayden (boy) in particular had a lot to say about this, sharing that if a woman became president, she’d probably “dress boys with dresses” and allow everyone to get free makeup all over the world. Andrew (boy) straight out said that he “thinks women are not presidents,” and that if they were, they “might even paint [the White House] pink.” To my horror, Belle (girl) agreed with him.
The boys seemed to have a lot to say about why women shouldn’t be presidents. They perpetuated the stereotypical portrayal of women as weaker than men, saying that it’s for this reason that women can’t do anything men can do. Sydney (girl) and Belle occasionally spoke out against this stereotype, insisting that women are smarter than men and equally as capable, but it wasn’t until Jimmy asked what they all thought a woman president would do in the face of war that Sydney gave this shining answer: “I think if there is a war then she [the woman president] would probably make it stop so people could be more healthy and they won’t die.” Applause ensued.
Without telling the kids who he was bringing out, Jimmy invited Hillary Clinton into the room, and guess who the only two were who could correctly identify her? Sydney and Belle. Girls.
It’s sad to watch such young children—in this case, young boys—fall prey to stereotypical ways of thinking. They have no idea yet how much the world looks to kids for hope, and when we see them spit out negative reinforcements of gender inequality that they probably learned from their parents, teachers, schoolmates or the media, it’s so very depressing. As Jimmy said, these kids are the future whether we like it or not, and yet, their ways of thinking are probably not even their own—yet.
Belle said that she thinks there should be a woman president because “there hasn’t been one.” Jayden thinks there shouldn’t be because “girls are too girly for boys and boys are too buff to have girl stuff.” He also called Jimmy fat, which Jimmy is not, so you know Jayden’s view of the world is skewed, anyway. While Jayden’s answers throughout were infuriating, they’re most likely a result of things that he’s learned from other people. Kids are sponges. They absorb and they spit out.
I would have loved for Andrew and Jayden to shock us all by saying that they support women running for president. I would have loved to see Belle and Sydney be even stronger and louder and stick up for themselves when the boys put them down. I really would have loved for Jimmy to NOT lift his shirt up and show us his stomach. Sadly, none of these things can be changed, but they ought to incite you to do something.
It’s our responsibility as open-minded, progressive adults to teach those who aren’t how to be. It’s our responsibility to be equipped with all of the reasons why equality today is so important. It’s our responsibility to drive home the idea that women and men are equally competent in the face of politics, medicine, technology, everything. Children are the future, which is why we want them to be able to speak on issues like gender inequality in politics even at their young age, but we all are responsible for their formation. So while you might find yourself getting pissed off at all of the young Jaydens and Andrews of the world, know that for every one of them, there are tens, hundreds, thousands of adults who think that way, too.
We need more men and women to be like Belle and Sydney. Tell the Jaydens and Andrews what time it really is. It does make a difference.