My Little Boy is Outgrowing Hearts and Rainbows

Stephanie Kaloi is ready to accept that her son wants to dress more like society’s expectations of a boy.

I have spent most of my son’s nearly four years on the planet scouring thrift stores and online shops for fun, colorful, and bright clothing. It’s been easy to meander back and forth between boy’s and girl’s departments as, for the most part, a lot of the clothes could work on a boy or girl.

Granted, my son has worn his fair share of puff sleeves and rainbows, but MOST of his clothing has been boy-leaning, with a dash of glitter on a sleeve.

As he’s gotten older I’ve increasingly struggled with finding stuff that works -– a lot of toddler and preschooler boy clothing is dominated by stripes, robots, and dinosaurs, while girl’s stuff is covered up with stars, hearts, ribbons, and lace. No matter: with the right balance and stubbornness, I’ve been able to find stuff that we both like.

Granted, I’ve noticed that through the months the clothing he’s wearing is more dominated by dark greens and reds instead of bright yellows and pinks, but that’s cool. He’s a dude, and until he declares a gender persuasion, I’m going to assume he’ll fall in line with most dudes.

Before I go further, I get that a lot of people really don’t care about gender-neutral clothing for kids, and I’m OK with that. My desire to dress my son in bright colors that could work for a boy or girl is half a political stance and half a frustration with how despondently boring I find most boy’s clothing. It’s been a kind of song and dance I’ve been performing: how much fun can I have?

Back to my mission. The other day I was leafing through the racks of a local Goodwill when I saw it: a bright pink sweater covered with multi-colored hearts. I swooned, smiled, and then stopped: Was this too girly?

My son is in preschool now, and even though the kids range between 3 ½ and 5, they still notice this kind of thing. A few weeks ago, my son said he wanted to have long hair, longer than mine. I told him he needed to grow out his bangs to make this dream a reality, so we pulled them back with a hair band.

Upon entering the school, he was immediately greeted by his friend, who asked, “Why is your hair like that? It’s like a girl’s.”

This was TOTALLY a legitimate reaction—and one that I anticipated and told my son would probably happen—and the kid’s mom did a wonderful job of answering, “He’s growing out his hair, it’s not a big deal,” without missing a beat.

But this was the first time that I realized that these kids, as young as they are, are really picking up on all of the gender cues around them. No one told my son his hair was wrong, and as far as I know it wasn’t a topic of conversation the rest of the day, but a few days later he said he wanted a haircut, so part of me thinks the exchange stuck with him.

That, or he just got sick of his hair in his eyes.

Ultimately, I think the whole hair discussion impacted me more than him—a few months ago I’m not sure if I would have even batted an eye at the heart sweater. I would have just bought it and been done with it. Now I pause, and ask myself if I would want to be a little boy in a pink, heart-adorned sweater. As much as I’d love for that answer to be, “Hell yes!” I wasn’t surprised when it was “Eh, probably not.”

And right now, I realize this isn’t the biggest deal in the world. Right now, my kid is wearing an Angry Birds pajama shirt and owl-covered tights under plaid pants, and that outfit is awesome. It’s colorful and fun, but it’s also a little more boy-friendly than clothing he’s donned in the past.

I suppose this is all part of realizing my kid is getting older, but there’s a real part of me that mourns the loss of freedom in clothing, however temporary it may be. For all I know, he’ll totally be into glitter and sparkles when he’s 8, 15, or 25—or he won’t. I will be perfectly fine either way, because it’s not my call to make.

But, MAN, I’m going to miss those rainbows in the meantime.

 

by Stephanie Kaloi

 

Originally appeared at xoJane

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xoJane.com, Jane Pratt's lifestyle site for women, is not about changing yourself to fit any mold of what others think you should be. It is about celebrating who you are. Like Sassy and Jane before it, xoJane.com is written by a group of women (and some token males) with strong voices, identities and opinions, many in direct opposition to each other, who are living what they are writing about.

Comments

  1. VERY biased headline. “Society’s expectations of how boys are supposed to dress…”

    Really? That’s terrible. It could be that your son is indeed desiring to dress in a certain way, like a man, and wants to find male role models that he can imitate and aspire to be like. As a mom, you *could* chalk that up to the nurture side of the “nature vs. nurture” argument, but frankly that’s incredibly biased, and potentially harmful to your son. If you believe that masculine desires or behavior on his part are simply “societal expectations” you’re going to make him question his masculinity for the rest of his life. He’ll never know whether the natural aspects of being a man that he is beginning to express are appropriate and genuine, or whether his mom, who is a woman and would not relate with nor understand those masculine expressions because she grew up a woman, questioned those desires at the core years of development in his life.

    I am glad that you’re finding constructive ways to work through the grief that all mother’s feel when their boys stop needing mommy as much. That’s totally appropriate and healthy, so long as you do cut the apron strings and let your boy follow his heart and grow into a man.

    This is a gendered comment that I’ve just made. And if you think that gender is a societal construct, you may be offended by it. That’s ok. However, men and women are different, and want different things as children. There is rich meaning in the male and female desires we experience and feel as we grow and mature. Not to say that men don’t experience or have feminine energy, or that women don’t experience or have masculine energy, but that men will overwhelmingly *prefer* and be drawn to masculine gendered behavior.

    As a mom, it’s your responsibility to encourage that, and provide opportunities for your boy to find those good men he can be around. Otherwise, you’re hampering that process, and doing the opposite of nurturing and loving him.

    • “This is a gendered comment that I’ve just made. And if you think that gender is a societal construct, you may be offended by it. That’s ok. However, men and women are different, and want different things as children. There is rich meaning in the male and female desires we experience and feel as we grow and mature. Not to say that men don’t experience or have feminine energy, or that women don’t experience or have masculine energy, but that men will overwhelmingly *prefer* and be drawn to masculine gendered behavior.”

      Are you aware that pants are a recent invention and that robe-like garments have been the dominant form of dress for millenia pretty much everywhere where people cover themselves (ie where they’re not half or fully naked)? You’d think that robes are “naturally feminine, in some inherent essential way”, but it isn’t so. Maybe gender isn’t as constructed as some say, but the gendered stuff (clothing types, hair length) sure is invented by society out of whole cloth.

  2. Thanks I need the laugh today. This article reaches a high level of ridiculousness.
    ——–
    “My desire to dress my son in bright colors that could work for a boy or girl is half a political stance and half a frustration with how despondently boring I find most boy’s clothing.”
    ——–
    Yet another 20 something hipster parent who is more concerned about their own wants and needs than their child’s. I wouldn’t really care what you dress your kid in if you were buying equal amounts of boy clothing too. Instead you are sending the message that the styles of boy clothing is inherently bad, but girl clothing is inherently good _based on your own prejudices._ You claim it’s what you both agree on, but would you buy your son a black shirt with a robot on it if _he_ wanted it? Your bias also shows that you believe that masculine = bad and feminine = good.

    He’s a kid, save your politicking for when he’s old enough to understand it and wants to join with you.

    • Masculine clothing is boring, that’s a known fact.

      It was designed that way pretty recently. It used to be more colorful and more decorated, a marker of class, not of gender.

      But since feminity became associated with aristocracy and masculinity became associated with ruggedness and being working class, any and all non-functional (read: decorative) clothing came to be seen as feminine, while masculine clothing needed to be entirely functional, a clone of what all other men wear.

      This is a recent happening, I’d say no more than 100-150 years.

      • “Masculine clothing is boring, that’s a known fact.”

        You need to learn the difference between what a fact is and what an opinion is. The sun is 92,960,000 miles from the Earth is a known fact. Masculine clothing is boring is an opinion and a retarded one at that. Might as well just schedule this kids first psychiatrist appointment right now.

        • Masculine clothing is boring, what men wears going to special occasions? SUIT, just SUIT. While women can wear thousand type of dresses, with long skirt, short skirt, showing off her cleavage, showing of their side boobs, etc. Its known fact for men to cover up everything they have on their bodies except for their head and hands to be called properly dressed and sexy, while women can wear anything, covering up or showing off their body and still called sexy and properly dressed. MODERN Men clothing is boring. Just compare men dresses on Roman Age to suits. Back then men can showed their arms, shoulders, and pecs and still called manly and sexy. Now men bodies considered disgusting in society so they have to cover up everything they have in a clothes called SUIT to be called manly and sexy.

  3. I still cannot figure out this website – and instead of simply deleting heretical thoughts, it would be great to find an answer. What do these articles about radical feminism have to do with being a good man?

    I know – I know – this is a forbidden topic, but why? Who decides what is posted? An article like this is obviously intended to pull the chain of any man who reads it. It is deliberately insulting. Yet it is one of many – in fact, it is the most prevalent theme here.

    Does anyone know why? And for pete’s sake, if you’re going to delete this, at least point to a place where my questions are answered. The sense for newcomers is that this is a closed left-wing club. and I would very much like to find a place as the site topic is very important to me.

  4. It’s a catch 22. There will be no winning this argument. Article after article on GMP is all about being “outside the box” and how society has to change the way they think. How many articles are about bullies? Yet here we have a mom who dresses her kid up like a girl and expects everyone else to “accept it” and not to judge.

    We dress our small kids. They like color and shapes. Looks to me like mommy wanted to make a statement and didn’t care about how it would affect the child. Very selfish from what I can see.

    • Yes, let’s have all kids be clones of each other, lest others find a reason to bully your kid. But don’t worry, even if you’re the best conformist there is, they can still find reasons to bully your kid. So you’re stifling any and all expression of your kid…for nothing at all. Congratulations.

      • @Shala …What kind of “statement” would a 5 year old boy be making by wearing hearts and bows? The “statement” is moms and not his. Let’s get real here. Clone? I guess you believe that little kids should start out being individuals by the things they wear and not who they are? The reality is that this is all about mom struggling with the boy growing our of what SHE wanted him to wear.

        My kids expressed themselves with their skills, talents and personality, not with what mom and/or dad wanted them to wear.

  5. Wait wait wait….

    Just growing out your bangs will make your entire head of hair grow longer?

    Hair bands cause hair to grow faster?

    Quit using the term “gender-neutral.” It’s obvious that boys being raised “gender-neutral” are very much being steered in a particular direction, and that direction is feminine. Well enough, but call it what it is because there is nothing “neutral” about this.

    • Hairbands and hairclips prevent loose hair from going in your face when your bangs are longer than eye length but shorter than the necessary length to put them behind ears and have them stay there (and then again, even when this length is attained, some still prefer the clips and hairbands, the hair has more chance to stay put this way).

      “It’s obvious that boys being raised “gender-neutral” are very much being steered in a particular direction, and that direction is feminine”

      If that’s true, it only speaks of how decidedly extremely restrained and limited male roles are allowed to be. If anything that’s not army-like macho-man tough-guy is “girly”, well there you have it, 90% of everything is feminine, 10% is masculine, and you have the guts to call that freedom.

      • Amicus Curiae says:

        Schala,

        Your responses are ridiculous. How you can you can read this putrid article and not see how horrible this woman has been to this poor child is beyond me. Even if we were to accept the claim the child is being raised “gender-neutral” (which itself is a moronic concept) this child is not being raised in that fashion.

        these two portions of the artcile speak highly of the disservice to this child:

        “As he’s gotten older I’ve increasingly struggled with finding stuff that works -– a lot of toddler and preschooler boy clothing is dominated by stripes, robots, and dinosaurs, while girl’s stuff is covered up with stars, hearts, ribbons, and lace. No matter: with the right balance and stubbornness, I’ve been able to find stuff that we both like”

        and


        My desire to dress my son in bright colors that could work for a boy or girl is half a political stance and half a frustration with how despondently boring I find most boy’s clothing. It’s been a kind of song and dance I’ve been performing: how much fun can I have?”

        This horrible woman is not concerned with what the kid wants or accepting of what he desires its all about her. This small child is forced to negotiate his clothing choices. if this woman was truly neutral she would simply follow him around the store and let him pick out some outfits he likes from whatever side of the store they happen to be on. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume the clothes she vetos comes from the evil boys side of the stores.

        It’s all about her “how much fun can I have?” I find boys clothes borning. My desire to dress him in bright colours. This entire article is about this horrible woman and how much she hates her son and boys in general. Even the fact taht he is exerting himself to have predominately red and green clothes seems to put this woman in hysterics.

  6. Austin Gunter says:

    This again, isn’t about your son. Count the “I” and “me” statements. This is about your priorities. Not about what your son actually wants.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Isn’t her whole point that she’s going along with what he wants? He wants more boyish clothes, so she’s doing that for him. He wants to grow his hair long, so she’s going along with it, he wants it cut now, so they’re going to cut his hair? I mean, where is she saying “no” to him or judging this wanting boyish clothes and stuff?

      Yes, it IS all about her. She makes that clear. But it’s about her understanding masculinity and accepting the ways in which her son will express his own masculinity. If you want to go back to some form of society where there is one acceptable way for a boy or man to express himself, then go for it. But I’m not joining you. I like a world where a little boy can say “no” to hearts and ask for his hair cut, and Mom accepts that this is a part of him growing up. I also like a world where a boy can say “no” to camo and lizards and ask for hearts, and parents will realize that’s part of him growing up, too.

      That’s what we’re looking for here, less restriction on gender expression. Not more.

      • “Isn’t her whole point that she’s going along with what he wants?”

        I think that’s her intended point, but her own words show that while she may have thought she was being “gender-neutral” until know, all she’s really done is dress her son like a girl until he got old enough to notice. I think it’s to her credit that she’s going along with that, but she’s deluding herself if she thinks it was gender-neutral until now. Consider:

        Granted, my son has worn his fair share of puff sleeves and rainbows, but MOST of his clothing has been boy-leaning, with a dash of glitter on a sleeve.

        Go into a boys’ clothing section, and tell me how much of it is “boy-leaning with a dash of glitter on a sleeve”.

        No matter: with the right balance and stubbornness, I’ve been able to find stuff that we both like.

        If he couldn’t choose anything that only he liked, then I don’t how it’s different from her making all the choices and letting him keep “choosing” until he pointed to the right one.

        Granted, I’ve noticed that through the months the clothing he’s wearing is more dominated by dark greens and reds instead of bright yellows and pinks, but that’s cool. He’s a dude, and until he declares a gender persuasion, I’m going to assume he’ll fall in line with most dudes.

        “Until”? We’re not talking sexual orientation here, we’re talking clothing preference, so if his choices have been dominated by conventionally boyish style for “months”, I’d say that’s pretty declarative for a pre-schooler.

        Before I go further, I get that a lot of people really don’t care about gender-neutral clothing for kids, and I’m OK with that. My desire to dress my son in bright colors that could work for a boy or girl is half a political stance and half a frustration with how despondently boring I find most boy’s clothing.

        This is the most telling statement of the piece, I think. She thinks she has been “gender-neutral” to this point, but by her own description, all she’s done has been to show a strong preference for girly clothes, while wishing they wouldn’t be considered “girly”. If she were being more authentically gender-neutral about it, she’d have balanced out her own preferences with some of that “despondently boring” boys’ clothing, if that’s how she defines boys clothing. By avoiding it altogether, she’s just picking the gendered clothing she prefers (her own gender’s), and calling it “gender-neutral” because by her political stance, that’s the ideal she wishes was true.

        And finally:

        The other day I was leafing through the racks of a local Goodwill when I saw it: a bright pink sweater covered with multi-colored hearts. I swooned, smiled, and then stopped: Was this too girly?

        Look at that picture. What’s remotely boyish about it, if you acknowledge the cultural response, and not just a deep-seated wish that pink and hearts were considered masculine because you find blue and robots despondently boring? That shirt is flat-out girly. If your son *likes* it, then I applaud being open-minded and tolerant enough to let him get it, but if he likes dark blues and robots and you’re asking, “Is this pink shirt with multi-colored hearts too girly?”, you don’t know what gender-neutral is; you just wish more boys liked your pretty stuff instead of their boring clothes. I mean look at it, if it had a dash of glitter on the sleeves it would be totally fierce.

        In the thread about kids’ underwear, Julie asked me incredulously where are these parents who would “force” their kids to wear opposite-gendered clothing? Well, here ya go. I don’t think there’s anything malicious to it, or that it was consciously, “I’m going to make my preschooler son cross-dress,” but that’s the end result. To her credit, this mother really does care enough about her son’s own preferences to start accommodating them now that he’s old enough to have and express more, but up until this point, she’s been dressing him according to a very obvious bias toward her own “girly” tastes, while thinking of it as gender-neutral because that’s the enlightened thing to do. Do any of us think that if she had a daughter, she would just as diligently tilt her clothing choices toward the despondent boring stuff in the name of gender neutrality? Honestly, the impression I get isn’t of a mother trying to force femininity on her son, but of one who has a hard time embracing it herself because having girly tastes herself is so “patriarchy”. By expressing those tastes through her son and calling it gender-neutral, that resolves some cognitive dissonance. She can’t change the behavior (buying girly clothes for son), so she changes the thought associated with it, (“They’re not girly – they’re a statement about gender equality!”)

        • You hit the bullseye Marcus. If she was really interested in true “gender neutrality” she would have been dressing the kid in black, grey, white, and brown. Instead she is intentionally choosing girl clothing and calling it gender neutral. To claim otherwise is disingenuous.

          She also said she found it boy clothes to be boring. I’ve never found robots and dinosaurs to be boring so she’s obviously projecting a dislike of traditional boy “decorations”. If she doesn’t like it that’s fine, but don’t call it boring. I wore a shirt to work the other day with a robot on it. No one thought it was boring.

        • Sometimes I really think human beings are doomed. If we aren’t forcing our own bullsh#t on our kids, we are writing articles about our own stuff for others to tear apart. Or both. Any parent who is that pushy with their kid (and yes, that pink heart shirt is most certainly coded “girly” in our culture and she knows it) is gonna cause them trouble, if not because of the topic at hand, but because they are willing to use them for articles.

          But then, there are parents who would do the very opposite only allowing traditionally coded clothes, disallowing color and costumery even if the kid hated that. It’s nearly hilarious how we mess things up.

          Kids under say, 5 are at our mercy for the most part with what they wear and what we make them do. They should get a say. After they age up, they get even more because it is their body we are dealing with.

          We are so extraordinarily capable of messing up such easy stuff. Let the kid wear what he wants, buy a real variety of clothes and listen to what the child says. They are not full reflections of us and our own dysfunction when they are born, we make them that way.

          • Kids under say, 5 are at our mercy for the most part with what they wear and what we make them do. They should get a say. After they age up, they get even more because it is their body we are dealing with.

            We are so extraordinarily capable of messing up such easy stuff. Let the kid wear what he wants, buy a real variety of clothes and listen to what the child says. They are not full reflections of us and our own dysfunction when they are born, we make them that way.

            I agree! That’s how I’ve felt all along, but we just take different roads to get there. Or maybe it’s even the same road but we paint different road signs. Or something like that. At any rate, I agree, so I thought you might like to know. :)

            • It’s odd, isn’t it? I get the desire to push against the norm, I do. I don’t think our pink/blue division is healthy or even rational. It’s a story we all believe, for the most, part, and we freak out when people shift from that story. I personally enjoy new stories and I don’t see any reason a boy or a girl shouldn’t get to pick what they want. I’m just not a fan of using my own kids as political tools when they aren’t old enough to consensually participate. It’s hard though. Writers write about what they see. Lord knows i”ve written about my boys. I’ve asked them though, as they’ve aged, what I can say. I think that’s fair.

            • TW [Tangent Warning]: While I think some of it is a “writers write” thing, I think the bigger factor is how social media now leads to otherwise un-noteworthy reactions and opinions being broadcast, and that gives a false impression of importance sometimes. Twenty years ago, if someone made a passing comment about a kid they saw in public dressed like the opposite gender, that comment would live and die with the companion or small group of companions who heard it. Now if they tweet it, or status update it, or blog about it, that fleeting everyday opinion looks like it Matters, and if enough opinions start flowing, it even looks like an Issue, that everyone should be thinking about or become advocates for (or against). (Can you tell I’ve been reading Winnie the Pooh with my kids again? It makes me want to capitalize Important Words.)

              Honestly, I don’t think this author is the first woman in my lifetime to enjoy dressing her son in girly-coded clothes and be a little bummed when he outrgrew that. Meh – different strokes for different folks. But publish an article on a men’s site that purports to be a discussion of modern masculinity, staking out a position that girly stuff is gender-neutral and boyish stuff is boring? What an outrage – I must comment, too, to restore balance to the blog-o-verse! It’s SIWOTI, and I haven’t yet developed an immunity, though I keep hoping…

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              I agree with this. I wouldn’t put a pro-choice tee shirt on my kids. You know? But in some places, my sons’ long hair WAS a political statement. We didn’t cut their hair until they asked us to. That, in and of itself, is a political statement. The truth was, my husband had long hair in the 70s and loved it, loves it on the boys.

              Is that a political statement?

          • Great post. This one wins the prize.

            • And this line is terrific: “and yes, that pink heart shirt is most certainly coded “girly” in our culture and she knows it”

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Marcus, she’s not forcing him. She’s saying that when he wants to wear boyish clothes, she lets him and will continue to let him. That’s it.

          We ALL “force” our kids to wear stuff before they have opinions. My kids didn’t care what their clothes looked like aside from a character they may have wanted (ie Elmo) so until a certain age, Izac wore girlie stuff a lot. If he liked it, we went for it. Then he didn’t want girlie stuff and stopped putting on Petra’s dresses, and I didn’t care. See, we all choose our own kids’ stuff until they start choosing.

          If she said “no” to his boyish choices, or if she said, “You have to wear this” about that super-girlie top (YES it is insanely girlie), then we’d have a totally different discussion on our hands.

          • We ALL “force” our kids to wear stuff before they have opinions.

            Right. I said the same thing. Then Julie said it her way, and I agreed with her, too.

            The nit I’m picking with the author is that she represented what she was doing as being gender-neutral in how she dressed him until he could form and express his own preferences. To borrow some of Julie’s phrasing, to me that would mean choosing either colors and styles that are coded intersex, or a roughly balanced ratio of girly to boyish stuff. What she described sounded to me like dressing her son most of the time as what my not-so-secret decoder ring tells me was “girly”. If I can concede (which I do) that she wasn’t abusing her son by dressing him girly until he formed his own tastes that she’s already respecting, can you concede that her wardrobe decisions until that happened were not as gender-neutral as she thought they were?

      • Joanna a child of that age isn’t choosing anything. Kids want to please their parents. If the kid can tell those are the clothes his mom likes of course that’s what he’s going to choose (and I mean previous to now since independence increases with age anyway).

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Not my kids. Good heavens. I mean, if I got UPSET it might be different. But this mom isn’t a monster. If he says “no” she listens.

          Do you have kids, Jimbo?

          My kids, at least, want to please us, but if they don’t like a shirt they do NOT wear it. If there’s a situation where they have to wear something, like a wedding and a dress shirt, we enforce. But that’s literally like 4 times in their lives. They have never seemed to be trying to please us in their clothing choices. If they were, my kids would wear way more vintage-style tee shirts with button-ups over them and cool jeans. Instead, it’s all Ninjago tee shirts, hoodies and sweat pants.

  7. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Also, comments are only deleted if they violate policy. One way to get a comment deleted is to talk about moderation techniques, to insult the author or editors of the site, or to insult the site itself.

    You can disagree all you want. Please do.

  8. So glad I had kids before Mommybloggers could tell me what I was doing wrong. I sure had no trouble finding bright colored clothing for boys or girls. Maybe LA is just more colorful than Portland? Or else, buying at thrift stores means the colors had faded?

  9. It’s interesting that she says “even though the kids range between 3 ½ and 5, they still notice this kind of thing.” She doesn’t seem to realize that this is the exact age that they are going to worry about it most. Preschoolers are working very hard at figuring out gender–am I a boy or a girl? What makes us different? What does a boy or a girl do? If I do boy stuff will I accidentally change into a boy? Oh no, I’d better stick with the rules!

    It seems that preschoolers absorb the ‘rules’ and then apply them with great enthusiasm. They will turn their observations into rules (my daughter refused to believe that a boy swim teacher could do the job, for example, because she hadn’t had a boy in her only previous session of classes). They relax later on when they figure out that they can’t accidentally change and that lots of things are for boys AND girls, but preschool is the time that they will be most rigid about gender rules and will make them up out of thin air if they have to. It’s part of their normal development.

    “Pink & Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America” by Jo. B. Paoletti is a very interesting new book on the subject, with lots of great history.

    • “It seems that preschoolers absorb the ‘rules’ and then apply them with great enthusiasm.”

      The way to respond to your kid applying the rules in this way is to dispel the myth that those “rules” actually matter, define people, or have to be observe for anything to function right.

      Drag queens and female lumberjacks don’t make the world explode. We should have kids learn that identity isn’t something you need constantly validated. And I’m saying that as a trans woman (identity validation is very important to me almost by definition). I can live with being misgendered sometimes by clueless people, if it means I can also forego make-up and wear sneakers everywhere (ie more freedom to say screw the rules).

  10. Austin Gunter says:

    The rules do matter, though. The rules bind us as humans to humanity, and teach us about meaning and values. To put another way, the rules are the code by which humanity knows you want to contribute and be a productive member. Breaking the rules haphazardly and without cause can signal to the people around you that you’re not safe.

    Now, I wholeheartedly support rebellion and revolution. There are lots of rules and systems that need to evolve for the sake of survival. But that’s only when those systems are getting in the way of humans expressing themselves. We learn as children to follow the rules first, and practice that. Once we’ve learned the rules, then we learn how to bend and break them, but only after having the context and experience of following them. Breaking rules is most potent when you know how to follow them first because it signals a conscious choice and expression by the individual.

    The boy here is expressing what he wants today. Perhaps that evolves as he grows up, perhaps not. Either way, It’s his call.

    • “But that’s only when those systems are getting in the way of humans expressing themselves. We learn as children to follow the rules first, and practice that. Once we’ve learned the rules, then we learn how to bend and break them, but only after having the context and experience of following them. Breaking rules is most potent when you know how to follow them first because it signals a conscious choice and expression by the individual.”

      In that case, those systems ARE designed to get in the way of humans expressing themselves. It’s meant to create good little clones who don’t dare to think for themselves or do things outside what’s popular, because violent consequences might ensue.

      I value systems about lawfulness, respecting written law after having thought critically about it (some laws are seriously bad, but it’s rarely the majority). Respecting authority is nice too.

      Going at the whims of gender roles meant to stifle creativity and expression…has no good to it.

      You might need to try stuff out to figure where you stand, but you don’t need rigid barriers “setting you straight” if you don’t follow those rigid stereotypes. This isn’t committing a crime and needing police, this is having the FBI check every square inch of your home with no warrant for no reason, making sure you’re compliant with the latest whims of the FBI chief, or the latest whims of the “in kids” who watch (and later star in) reality TV.

  11. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    How sweet. Moby would be proud.
    Get this kid a slingshot, and tell him to nail the next moron who tries to dress him like a girl.

  12. banana_the_poet says:

    My son is now a young adult. When he was born nearly every clothing retailer sold ‘girls’ clothes and ‘boys’ clothes for babies – the ubiquitous pink and blue babygrows and here and there and yellow for parents who didn’t want to know the sex before the birth. This was more than 20 years ago.
    I decided to dress my son in gender neutral clothing and it was very difficult to do. But I found suitable outfits in bright primary colours and nobody ever thought he looked remarkable other than remarkably smart and much more colourful than his pink/blue /beige counterparts in the park.
    But I found cotton dungarees in primary colour blocks, hats with primary colour blocks, his babygrows were cotton in bright green blocks with stripes and spots, or ‘yellow teddies’ design and later we found him bright red boots with blue laces so he could be like his hero Noddy. He had bright deep pink t-shirts and nobody thought they looked ‘girly’. I would never have dressed him a pastel shades because even as a female I have always personally loathed them as too insipid and drippy.
    When he started swimming at less than a year old the only one piece costumes were for girls – but I found a nice green stripy one and snipped off the frills around the legs to result in something resembling a Victorian swimming costume!
    Sprog is now completely at ease as a scruffy, hairy, untidy bloke and has not had any question regarding where he sits on the masculinity scale although he has always known we would have been equally chuffed for him to be anywhere he liked on that matter. I don’t understand why a parent (wanting the best for their child) would dress a boy in clothes normally associated by their social grouping as feminine attire? That seems to me to be over-egging the pudding. Gender neutral means that doesn’t it – neutral – not cross dressing?

  13. I totally understand. Boys clothes choices are boring.
    So I deliberately kept my son’s hair way long into the girl-range until he started school. That way he could and did wear anything without comment. But after the haircut we put the real unquestionably girl things into the collection for just wearing at home.
    He’s seven now, pretty much all boy, except when one gf comes to play. Then he’s quite likely to be the one in the glitter blouse and skirt. But out of respect to gender norms, his most recent pettiskirt is BLUE!

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