I live with Cinderella, who just so happens to be a four year old boy. I’m sure a lot of people would find that rather challenging, but there’s really not all that much to it when you break it down. Cinderella is just a character in a story that he enjoys.
It strikes me as contradictory when we encourage girls to wear blundstones with their tulle tutus but won’t let boys wear tutus with their blunnies. We tell girls that they can do anything boys can do, but we don’t reverse that for our sons. “Girls can do anything” is the response to the fact that for millennia we have simply assumed that boys can do anything. So boys can do anything. But they can’t do anything girls do at the same time.
When we do that we send boys the message that “girlie” is taboo, second rate, and we unwittingly send girls the same message. Why is the idea of a boy in a fairy costume, or …. glass slipper gum-boots like we have at our house, so confronting? Why so serious? It’s only dress-ups, and he’s only four!
No one with half a brain worries that their daughter will become a lesbian if she wears boots, but for some unfathomable reason there is an almighty power ascribed to PINK. Pink is the most powerful colour in the universe, it will make your sons gay, they’ll be beaten for being “deviant”, and they might even want to have important parts of their anatomy removed *gasp*.
If the worst thing that ever happens to my son is that he is gay then I’m going to be really glad! Because he’ll be happy and healthy and one day I’ll be lucky enough to get a wonderful son in law. As the mother of three sons and only one daughter, that quite appeals to me!
There’s something contradictory when we discourage boys from doing “girl” things, and then we want our daughters to play with trucks and trains to show how encouraging we are of equality.
Equality goes both ways, and here’s the bottom line: Every single time we tell our sons that pink is for girls, we perpetuate sexism, and send the message that masculinity is to be placed above all else, especially femininity.
When we tell our sons that wearing pink detracts from their all important masculinity, we teach them that we value masculinity over femininity. When we praise our daughters for playing with trains, we teach them the same thing because train sets aren’t sold in the pink aisle of the toy shop, no matter how loudly we proclaim that they are gender free.
Although personally we may dispute the hard lines for gender policing, our society reinforces them more loudly. In a perfect world there would be no gender rules, no gender at all, but this is the world we live in and so we need to start at the very bottom and work our way up.
How do boys grow up to think that women can do anything, that women are human beings …. if wearing pink is so dreadful and emasculating? Not being able to wear pink or play Cinderella isn’t likely to result in great damage to our sons on an individual level, but at a social level? Our children should all wear pink. it’s just a colour.
If your son wants to wear pink, BIG DEAL! If he wants to play Frozen, BIG DEAL! If he paints his nails, BIG DEAL. His masculinity and sexuality are not under attack by dresses or pink. Nothing will drop off because he can sing “Let It Go” or he’s searching under the bushes out the back for a glass slipper.
Masculinity comes under attack when it forced to abide by unbending rules. If a simple colour, toy, game, or item of clothing can bring down the entire front of masculinity then perhaps men aren’t the stronger sex after all! Girls can wear pink AND play with trains!
My little Cinderella is just a kid who liked a movie and wants to play dress-ups. Sometimes he plays Spiderman, and sometimes Cinderella. My goal is to raise him to be happy and healthy, kind and thoughtful, not to be a big butch man, who beats his chest and scratches his armpits while yawping at the full moon. Men aren’t things we make, they are humans who have their own identities, and by overzealously defending masculinity we damage our sons, our daughters, and the relationships they might one day form.
FOR FURTHER READING