One argument one hears a lot, especially when it comes to bullshit gender enforcement, is “But it will confuse the children!” We heard it about gay marriage (“Children won’t understand how someone can have two daddies or two mommies!”) and we hear it about circumcision (“Our son will be confused if his dick looks different from daddy’s!”) and we hear it about all the weird enforcement of gender on little kids (“Children don’t need to be confused by adult ideas of gender-neutral toys!”) and hell, a generation ago we were hearing it about stay-at-home dads (“How will children know who’s the mommy and who’s the daddy?”).
Thing is, it’s an utterly disingenuous argument; it’s not even about what it claims to be about.
Let’s be clear: everything is confusing to kids. The whole world is arbitrary and all the good stuff is on the high shelves. That’s why they ask all those damn questions all the time, and good for them. I’m sure when I noticed the difference between my father’s and stepfather’s dicks and my own, I probably asked about it. I do remember noticing, I don’t specifically recall asking, but the answer was something like “They used to think you couldn’t keep your penis clean if it had a foreskin, but now we know that’s not true.” That was probably the LEAST annoying question I asked that day.
Kids can roll with a lot of stuff, because they’re learning the rules as they go along.
You know who’s easily confused, easily thrown off-track and baffled by the questioning of rules they’ve learned? Adults.
When someone says “Kids won’t understand how two men can be married” what they mean, what they’re trying to say, is “I don’t understand how two men can be married.” When they say “Kids won’t understand why their dick looks different from daddy’s” they’re trying to explain “I don’t understand why you want to be different from tradition.” When they say “Kids won’t know who’s the daddy and who’s the mommy” they are telling you “I cannot comprehend a world without very rigid gender roles, and as far as I know neither can anyone else.”
If anyone can think of a counterexample, let me know, but from where I’m standing, it looks like every use of the “confused kids” argument is just people pushing their own incomprehension off onto some largely-hypothetical kids. Can we all agree to stop falling for it?