Posted on | April 3, 2013 | 29 Comments
Several days ago, J came home from school and went on a walk with me. As we turned a corner in our neighborhood, there was a pink bicycle lying in someone’s yard. He looked at it for a moment and said “That’s a girl’s bike,” in a very matter of fact sort of way.
“Why do you say that?” I asked him, my step faltering slightly.
“Because it’s pink,” he shrugged, “and pink is a girl color.”
I reigned in my feminist need to shake him and say “NO! COLORS ARE GENDERLESS” and just asked him a simple “Why?”
“Because it is,” he shrugged, “and blue is for boys.”
“But you have a pink shirt that you wear, right?”
“Yeah…” He looked at me for a minute, confused.
“And I have blue clothes that I wear, right? Like these jeans I have on? And my Carolina shirt?”
“Yeah…” He wriggled his fingers slightly in my grasp, listening intently.
“So what makes colors boy or girl, then?”
He thought for a moment and then smiled.
“I don’t know.”
“Me either,” I grinned, “So I guess they aren’t, really, are they?”
“Nope.” He swung against my hand, our shadows dancing in waves at our feet. He looked up at me and nodded, his voice matter of fact, as though I’d just helped him solve a great mystery. “So I can wear pink if I want to. Because boys can wear pink, too.”
Damn straight, I thought to myself, silently cursing some unknown foe. He then asked me about ballet tutus and dolls and several other “girl” things which I quickly dispelled as being for anyone who loves them. And then we kept on walking, talking about this and that and not mentioning boy or girl toys or gender specific colors again. But somewhere inside me my heart broke a little. Because, you see, it’s already happening. Even without my knowledge, even without my participation and especially without my consent, the world is telling my little boy he is limited in who he can be, in what he can play with, and even in what he can wear.
The world is telling my little boy that there are gender limitations, that there are ways little boys MUST behave, things little boys MUST play with. And things they shouldn’t; things they “mustn’t.” And though I’m trying my best to counteract it all… I’m just one mom to one little boy. There must be something more we can do, right? There must be someway that we can teach our boys that they can be anything, right? There has to be a way to convince even one little boy that he can be a boy and still love dolls. That loving a pink shirt doesn’t make him less of, well, a boy. There must be a way to show them that having a tea party isn’t some admission of guilt, some acknowledgement of wrong, some inability to be, well “masculine.”
If my son loves something age-appropriate, than dammit it is for him… pink, green, black, blue, yellow or polka dot. It doesn’t make him “girly” it makes him three. Or four. Or five. Or seven-freaking-teen. And that goes for toys, clothes, and everything else. Because I don’t like anyone, and I mean ANYONE, limiting who or what my child can be.