Monday, April 16, 2012

I was reading Mur Lafferty's beautifully written blog post titled "Dear Daughter" <>. As I was writing a comment, I realized it was long enough to be a blog post of its own.

What we have is the worst of all possible worlds.

There are those that rejoice in having female children, because they're like boys-plus. They can wear any outfit a boy can wear as well as any outfit a girl can wear. They can be involved in activity that "boys like" and any activity that "girls like". They have every door that girls have historically had, plus every door that boys have had.

Then we have baby boys raised to be assholes before they can even speak, their onesies emblazoned with offensive (and often sexist) statements. Little boys who are insulted if they like certain colors, or toys, or activities. Little boys trained to like "boy" things and that anything outside of that restricted set is effeminate. It's a tiny little gender box that we keep our little boys in.

Oh, we have the same people trying to get girls back in their tiny little gender box. With the rise of "princess culture" some girls are climbing inside and asking for the lid to be closed with pretty pink nails.

So what are we to do? I think the most important thing we can do for our children is to allow them to know about differences in gender roles in time and place. I think as soon as they learn that what is expected "here" is not expected "there" it opens them up to finding what they want and expect of themselves -- outside of the expectations of society and their peers.

As soon as children learn that gender roles vary by culture, they can start thinking about what sort of culture they want to see when they're adults. And that, historically, is how social revolution begins. (It wasn't that long ago that girls weren't allowed to wear pants to school. I suspect a number of the people that brought about that change were women who actually enjoyed wearing pants as children.)

My children are still quite young. I intend to tell them I obey the social norms of a future society. It's a society where a little boy's favorite toy could be a yellow bean doll, and where grown men can fearlessly sob while reading a book in public. I like to think that the social norms I obey belong to a culture where, eventually, the only people that know a person's gender are that person's doctors and lovers.