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Friday, October 2, 2015

Call a Girl Pretty, and 15 Other Things Boys Shouldn’t Do

Raising boys isn’t as simple as it used to be. Look around you—online, at the playground, in the newly-neutralized toy aisles of Target—and you’ll notice that traditional gender lines are becoming blurrier by the second.

You’ll also notice people getting their panties (or jockstraps, since we’re all about equality now) in a wad about some pretty stupid shit.

Feminism is spreading, folks. It’s spreading faster than the legs of Cersei Lannister when her brother walks into the room.

(Was that offensive? It’s so hard to differentiate between humor and tactlessness these days).

I’m all for equal rights. I think women deserve equal pay. Because duh. I think all parents should be given paid maternity/paternity leave. I think athletes like Shalane Flanagan and Meb Keflezighi are EQUALLY freaking BADASS, because they're fast as f***, not because they're male or female. I think ladies can be scientists, and dudes can be homemakers.

But I also think people are getting a wee bit nuts when it comes to kids, gender roles, and the "sexual" implications of innocent childhood behaviors. Sometimes we need to just let kids be kids.

Now, if a toy is labeled a “boy” or a “girl” toy, it’s seen as regressive to the feminist movement. Disney movies are picked apart and scrutinized for being “sexist.” (I’m sorry, but what little kid watches Tangled and analyzes the relative hand sizes of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider? I think they’re probably more fascinated by the fact that Rapunzel has hair she could wipe her own butt with.) And is it just me, or does it seem like society is reading just a little too much into things, like calling your kid a “flirt”?

Now, if I offhandedly say that one of my kids is acting like "such a boy," the online gender role patrol is ready to get all up on me like white on rice (or brown on rice...I'd hate to be accused of racism in addition to sexism).

Now, if I buy my boys toy cars, I'm shoving them into a gender niche. And if I buy them dolls, I'm shoving my own feminist agenda down their throats. WHY CAN'T KIDS JUST PICK OUT THEIR OWN TOYS AND PLAY WITH WHATEVER THE HELL THEY WANT WITHOUT BEING PSYCHOANALYZED FOR IT?

I mean, when I found out I was pregnant with TWO PENISED CREATURES, my primary concern was potty training. Because obviously. How the hell was I going to teach them to use equipment I didn’t have?

Now I’ve got to worry about all this politically correct bullshit.

(Side note: Still not much progress on the potty training front, but they do know how to do burpees and utilize proper running form, because those are things I can actually demonstrate...without purchasing some really awkward items from an adult toy store.)

Seriously though, the gender thing: It’s hard to teach your sons to both respect and ignore gender lines, which seems to be what the world expects them to do: You should treat girls the same way you treat boys. BUT! Boys and girls are not the same, so while it might be okay to chest bump Billy Bob on the playground, it might be frowned upon if you rub up against Susie Q.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way implying that only boys can be named Billy or that only girls can be named Susie. I’d hate for the Target mom to read this and demand a retraction.*  

Mixed messages, people. It’s confusing for me, and I’m a grown-up (sort of...I did just picture Rapunzel flossing her butt crack with that golden mane of hers).

LUCKILY* FOR ME, I’ve read/heard/been offered a TON of advice on the subject, and I’ve managed to weed out the helpful stuff from the poppycock poppytwat. (See? I’m learning. YAY for equality!)

*Unfortunately and annoyingly

Anyway, here are 16 things you should NOT allow your son to do*, according to certain people on the internet, individuals who don't understand the real definition of "feminism," and random nitwits:

*Note: If you have no sense of sarcasm, please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (or GODDESS), STOP READING.

1. Play with dolls. WOMEN ARE NOT A MAN’S PLAY THINGS.

2. Think there’s anything wrong with playing with dolls. But wait, you also want your son to learn how to be a loving, nurturing father. Playing with dolls will facilitate that. This is the 21st century: Women aren’t responsible for all the child-rearing anymore.

3. Be bullied for playing with dolls. BUT YOU DON’T WANT HIM TO BE PICKED ON IN SCHOOL FOR PLAYING WITH “GIRL” TOYS.

4. Believe there is such a thing as “boy” and “girl” toys. Shit. I hope Target didn’t hear me.

5. Watch Disney movies. Those animated monstrosities are rife with degrading gender stereotypes. Way too many damsels in distress. You don’t want him thinking the right thing to do is help a girl out when she’s in trouble. Best to leave her passed out in a tower (like Sleeping Beauty) or at the mercy of a pedophiliacally-goateed maniac (like Jasmine).

I’d stick with A League of Their Own. Just be sure to stress that Tom Hanks has nothing to do with the team’s success.

6. Play tag (with girls). WHOA, INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING. (Girls are not made to be manhandled.)

7. Play tag (with boys). WHOA, INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING. (Neither are boys. But make sure he knows you’re okay with him being gay. But you probably shouldn’t use the word “gay,” because “gay” is a label, and LABELS ARE BAD.)

8. Play tag (period). It’s really kind of dangerous, and it reinforces the stereotype that men are always on the prowl and live for the thrill of the chase.

9. Play with water guns. *Sigh* Another male stereotype. Besides, playing with water guns will inevitably turn him into a psychotic serial killer. Might as well just buy him an AK47 for Christmas and let him use the cat for target practice.

*Note: If he has a sister, you can definitely let her play with toy guns. I mean, girls that play with toy guns are cute tomboys, fiercely expressing their burgeoning feminism. Boys who do it are just deranged sociopaths in the making.

10. Play video games. Yeeeeaaahhh…those will also turn him into a psychotic serial killer.

Yes, even the ones that don’t involve guns. Pac-Man is just too damn aggressive, the way he darts around, taking whatever he wants. Not a good male role model.

And don’t even get me STARTED on Mario. Psshh. Always there to “save” the “princess.” That anti-feminist asshole belongs in a Disney movie.

11. Climb up the slide at the playground. Again, this encourages aggressive behavior. And, seriously, are you TRYING to turn him into a psychoticserial killer?

12. Be chastised for climbing up the slide. I mean, after all, boys will be boys…

13. Hear you say things like, “Boys will be boys.” Shhh…Target shoppers might hear you.

14. Call a girl pretty. THERE IS MORE TO A WOMAN THAN HER APPEARANCE! FEMINISM! FEMINISM! FEMINISM!

15. Let him see you packing his (or Daddy’s) lunch. Holy shit, what do you think this is, 1950? Step away from the peanut butter jar, Mama! You should be spreading your feminist views in front of your impressionable son, not that PBJ.

Next thing you know, he’ll be waltzing up to little Susie at playgroup, yelling, “MAKE ME A SAMMICH, WOMAN!”

16. Just be a kid. From the moment he comes tearing through your vagina (or C-section incision), he needs to be aware of the possible political and social implications of everything he does.

In fact, if you nurse him, be sure to do it in public, show lots of boob, take a ton of pictures, and create a PowerPoint for him to use in any future 4H projects on women’s rights. Because what little boy wouldn’t be proud to show THAT to his peers?

For real though, you’d hate to see him actually enjoying his childhood.

Careful, boys. That "big stick" you're so sweetly playing with 
might be misconstrued as some sort of phallic symbol.

2 comments:

  1. It's not worth much, but I want you to know that I am HIGHLY appreciative of sarcasm. I laughed so hard at some of your little asides that I definitely would have sprayed any liquids that I had happened to have in my mouth or nose at the time.

    Still, there is real truth to these difficulties of gender stereotyping, and it's so hard to get away from. My son is just over one, and we still deal with it all the time. I haven't bought any "gendered" toys yet (so far the only toys I've bought him have been to help him walk around the house or have only primary colors), but I already know there are fights ahead.

    We were given a balance bike by a friend of ours who has a little girl, and the bike is - gasp - pink. My opinion was, "Awesome, free bike! Those things are expensive!" My husband said, "We got a free bike. The bad news is, it's pink. The good news is, I already got some sand paper and spray paint so that people won't think he's a little girl." I literally could not fathom his thought process. Who cares what other people think? Why not let our son play with the bike until he (our son) asks to change the color? Does it really matter THAT much?

    That's the kind of thing I worry about. If we're changing our things and our thoughts and our actions because of some stereotype about gender, that makes me pretty uncomfortable.

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    Replies
    1. First of all, thank you so much for reading, and for taking the time to compose such a thoughtful response :)

      I 100% agree with you on the pink bike issue. Seriously, if a boy wants a pink bike, WHO FREAKING CARES? In fact, when we found out that I was pregnant with twin boys, I clearly remember lamenting the lack of "kitty" baby boy clothes. (I am a crazy cat lady.) Apparently society has decided that girls like kitties, and boys like puppies. Dumb, right?

      Anyway, as far as the recent push for gender neutrality goes, I'm simply pointing out that the "label" as toys, clothes, etc. as "boy" or "girl" doesn't personally bother me that much. I mean, I wear dude deodorant because I prefer the smell, and it really doesn't bother me that it's labeled as "men's." I have a ton of Star Wars shirts, all of which have been purchased from the "little boys" clothing department. So if one of my boys wants a doll, it really won't bother me if I have to take him into an aisle labeled "girls toys." I can see why it might upset others, but to me it's not that big of a deal. As long as my boys still have the option/opportunity to play with things dubbed "girl toys," I really don't care what they're called.

      I too get tired of the whole blue = boys, pink = girls thing, but I think society as a while is getting a little crazy about gender separation these days. If a little boy wants to wear makeup, he is probably going to have to peruse an aisle marketed primarily towards females, because it IS primarily females who purchase such items. So what?

      It's kind of like...I'm not Chinese. But I like Chinese food, and I'm not at all offended than in order to get some, I have to sit my American butt down in a "Chinese" restaurant.

      For me, the main problem, as I addressed in the post, is the mixed messages society can send, and the pressure we put on our kids to analyze and overthink every action they take or decision they make. I think girls/women can be admired for their bodies without it turning into objectification. Also, sorry, but as I said, no one is going to convince me that little kids are picking apart Disney movies for anti-feminist subliminal messages. THEY'RE CARTOON MOVIES. THEY'RE FICTION. (Not yelling at you with the caps lock, just emphasizing in general.) Kids don't care about the body proportions of Disney characters; no, the only people I think looking at those things are adults looking to "stir the pot" (or the cauldron, depending on the Disney movie) or push their own social agendas.

      Sorry this response got so long, but you brought up some great points, and I wanted to be sure to address them fully. Again, thank you for reading and commenting!

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