Wednesday 14 July 2010

Does this bother you?

 No? What about this?

Not really? What about now? Does it feel weird at all?

And how about this?

Did any of those make you feel not-quite-right?

Why are we more ok with these?

In our society, for some reason, we are more comfortable with girls playing with trains, cars, machines and dinosaurs than we are with boys playing with dolls, ponies and princesses. I cannot for the life of me understand why. Do we seriously think a boy will "turn gay" if he enjoys playing with Betsy Wetsy or dressing up in frilly dresses and walking around in Mommy's heels? Really? I firmly believe what we are, who we are going to be attracted to, is something we are born with. Of course, life experiences and a dysfunctional upbringing can modify behaviours and our sense of self, but who we really are deep down in our core is already wired. As Dee (@CocktailDeeva) said in a comment, that echoes my feelings, from Jen's post: "I am of the belief that we are BORN knowing who we are going to hold hands with in life.."

I was in a parenting group where one mom asked how she could get her two-year-old to stop playing with his sister's dolls. She was seriously worried he was going to be "a deviant".

I'm also personally not a fan of piercing baby's ears (not judging, just my feeling). It especially makes me curious when the reason behind the piercing is simply so people will "know she's a girl." Really? Why does it matter SO much?

Today Zachary - who is VERY gender aware and not only shies away from, but screams and runs away from, "girl" things - wore hot pink flip flops. I was so proud. :) We're trying to get him out of his extremely stereotypical thinking. He almost didn't eat dessert the other night because it was on a Cinderella plate. When the choice came down to use the plate it's on or no dessert, he reluctantly chose to keep the plate. (All the "boy" ones were in the dishwasher.)

Why are people so concerned with gender? Why must everything fit into boxes we've created in our heads? It's too funny how completely apologetic people have gotten when they've referred to my kids as the incorrect gender. (That doesn't happen anymore... much.) We used to dress Alexandria in "unisex" (read: "boy") clothes, sometimes with a ballcap. We call her Alex. So, of course - as I would have, too - people said, "Oh! He's so cute!" or "How old is he?" They were sooooo sorry when I replied, "She's about 6 months." Or last year, when Zach was about 2, we took the kids to TriPride. Alexandria got a rainbow bracelet and of course, little brother had to get one, too. A couple booths down, a vendor made a comment about "how cute she was." I said, "Thanks. I think he's adorable, too." Even at a Pride celebration she was overly concerned she'd gotten the gender - of a toddler! - incorrect.

What do you think does more damage to a kid? Letting him play with dolls because that's he preference right now? Or telling him what he wants is not ok because he's a boy and somehow shouldn't want to do that? Doesn't that send a message that HE is somehow "wrong"?

I really appreciate not wanting to subject our children to any negative reactions, I really do. Every choice we make as parents is such a struggle. Do we let him go out with barrettes and pink fingernails? Maybe even wearing a tutu? What about when he gets to school age? Is it better to let our kids follow their hearts and support the choices they are making and be there to comfort them when there are reactions in public? Will there be reactions in public? Why are there reactions in public?

I want to point out a beautiful post by Chris @kitestring wrote a while back. Look especially at Rule 3. How different could that scenario had been if his teacher had ridiculed him for what he was doing? Or even just subconsciously made him feel as if it were somehow wrong by steering him in a different direction? I love what his teacher did.

So, why can't we be happy and supportive of the choices are children make?
Here is a great video from Free to Be You and Me, called William's Doll. And here is B.D. Wong doing his version of it.
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