inspired by: Joe. My. God.: J. Crew Ad Draws Wingnut Fire
I can't count the ways this is an overreaction. But perhaps its a worthwhile exercise in gender to try:
Much the way a 5 year old playing "Daphne dress up" on Halloween is no indication of a person's sexuality later on, painting a boy's toenails is not an automatic correlation with "the Gay". These are children. Gender roles, while powerful, are the first lessons many in a society learn...and every child experiments with the concepts as they are socialized into them. Many play, house and engage in role taking, emulate what they presume their parents roles to be etc. The "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" biological deterministic explanation for behavior is so grossly overestimated that its incredibly difficult for most people to tell where "Nature" begins and where social expectations/prescription ends. Hair length, apropriate style and length of clothing, norms associated with one gender or the other... socially perscribed and variable cross-culturally. If gender roles and behavior were fixed and inflexible (and if they were purely biological hardwiring) they'd be constant over human history. Our ideas on gender and gender identity vary from culture to culture and are incredibly subjective. Nail polish and the liking of a particular color has little bearing on a person's identity until society makes it so. The rabid associations being made in the media, and in the rest of society about boys and masculinity does a great to shape (and punish) "deviant" behavior and perpetuate homophobia. The vigor with which many seem to react to gender deviance underscores how pervasive adhering to gender roles are in our dear patriarchy. Boys doing anything remotely percieved as feminine is considered a loss of power. And given how much emphasis we attach to masculinity in our culture, its almost incomprehensible that any boy would want to "give up" his power...so it becomes something that is done to him, or something his mother is responsible for in some Oedipal assumption...our society clings so strongly to gender typing that it finds this MINOR deviation at the age of five enough of a white knuckle panic attack that it launches a quick and decisive counterattack. On a 5 year old... clearly everyone's lost their minds.
This sort of histrionic terror of "feminization of boys" is rooted in Cold War Lavender scare propaganda and the people (over)reacting to this? Sad hangovers from this rigid socialization. Gender roles are very much just that. Which means they're negotiable and culturally defined. Not every boy has to play with guns and despise pink to identify as masculine. Its safe to come out of those bomb shelters and unclench already. There really are bigger problems in the world than a boy with pink nailpolish. What with the still record high unemployment rates, and this budget everyone seems quite content to feud over, you'd think we could find more important things to concern ourselves with collectively. Funny thing, those priorities.
UPDATE: Given the extreme importance of...everybody chiming in on how a mother raises her 5 year old. The View, and the perpetually clever Jon Stewart add their 22 cents.
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