A word of warning for you, dear readers. I have pulled out my soapbox and I am climbing on top. I’ve decided it’s time to address the infuriating double standard that exists among our children. Truthfully, this double standard even exists among adults, but my concern for the moment is only for my kids. What I’m talking about is the fact that girls can be boys but boys are not allowed to be girls.
Let me elaborate. My daughter is a princess, as most young girls can be. She loves to dress up, wear jewelry, make-up and nail polish, play house and Barbies. She is a girly-girl. But she also likes to play Pokemon and Star Wars, have pretend battles with her brothers, play with Legos and soldiers. For Halloween, she dressed up as a commando soldier complete with faux six-pack and stuffed pectoral muscles. Everyone’s reaction to my daughter’s choice of costume and leisurely activities? “How cute, you have a little tomboy.”
But here’s the flipside. My boys (one or both, depending on the activity) in addition to all the rough housing and normal boy-type games, have enjoyed dressing up in sissy’s dresses and jewelry, having their nails painted, playing Littlest Pet Shop games, and even playing house. The typical reaction to this? “You need to be careful so he doesn’t get confused.” I’ve had close friends actually imply that I need to watch out that these activities don’t lead them to an alternative lifestyle.
I’m going to take a moment to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration before going on. Okay, I feel better.
Are you kidding me? Do you actually think that my son wanting to play a game of dress up is going to make him gay? Why is it okay for my daughter to do everything the boys can do and no one is worried that she’s going to end up a lesbian? Why do boys have to always be rough and tumble creatures? Why can’t they be free to explore their softer side?
I would love to be able to start a Men’s Liberation Movement. Women have been demanding equal rights and equal treatment for years. Now it’s time for the men. I want my boys to be able to do anything the girls do without fear of being judged. At the ages of 9 and 11, they already know that the things they do at home are not looked favorably upon in society. That’s just not what “boys” do. To anyone who makes boys feel like they can’t enjoy things that are typically considered “girly”, I say take a long leap off a short bridge. It breaks my heart to see my son debate with himself over whether or not to have me paint his nails (even if I’m using green or blue) because he’s afraid of what other people will say. He should be able to do it because it’s fun, not worry about being judged for it.
If my daughter wants to be a Pokemon, Power Ranger, Luke Skywalker or Army ranger, she’s applauded for being a strong, tough girl who knows her mind and as well she should be. But if either of my sons wants to dress-up, sew, bake, dance or wear jewelry, he does so knowing that he will be teased mercilessly. I’ve had enough. Boys can be sensitive. Let them be sensitive. Has anyone ever considered what would happen if our boys learned sensitivity, creativity, compassion, and artistry when they were young? How would things be different if every tough, macho man out there also knew how to be sweet and tender?
I grew up playing with Tonka trucks, watching He-Man and Transformers and hiding out in the woods playing soldier. When my husband was growing up, he learned to cross-stitch and paint and he was invited to girls’ slumber parties. I think we can attest to being one of the most stable married couples around. Why not give our little boys a chance at growing up with the same opportunities and allowances that we demand for our girls?