Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gender Profiles

Yesterday, I bought my son a toy at a local consignment store. It was a little pink plastic doll house complete with little family, furniture and decorative accents. You guys, I have never seen a little boy so excited to get a surprise. He was ecstatic. Thing is though, when I checked out, the lady asked me how old my daughter is. When I replied that it was actually for my oldest son who is three, she made the awfulest face and replied that they had a boy toy’s section and asked if I had missed it. "I'm sure he would enjoy some of the Tonka trucks back there more!" To which I told her he was going to be crazy excited about the dollhouse thank you very much and left without saying another word.

See, this kind of thing happens around us a lot. It irks me to no end. The gender thing. Not that I am one of those people that would dress my boys in dresses and take them out to church like that but if they want to play dress up and wear sparkly jewelry or paint their toes, then damn it, they are more than welcome to. If it’s a forbearance that he turns out to be a gay man, then guess what? I will love him still and I will be confident in the fact that I did not stifle his growth and independence.

It started last Spring when I painted my D’s toenails. I painted them hot pink because he had been begging me to paint his toes like his mama’s. Every chance he got, he went into my bathroom and brought me my nail polish from the drawer, a different color every time.

“How ‘bout this one, mama?”

His little face all stretched upwards with the expression of trying to convince me it was a good idea. So, I did it. We sat on the end of my bed while K was napping and we painted our toenails. I let him pick out the colors. Hot pink for him and bright red for me. I did his  first, and then he painted mine. To the best of his 2 year old abilities.

I didn’t really think anything of it. Truth be told, it didn’t strike me as odd at all that he wanted his toenails painted like his mama’s. I mean, he spends all of his time with me, he has always loved pretty shiney things and also, he is my little kid.

What struck me odd was everyone else’s reactions to it. People ranged from just laughing and shaking their heads to commenting on how weird it was for him to be so happy about it to actually saying things out loud to him that were totally inappropriate. Apparently some people really are that clueless about life and everything else that they it’s okay to insinuate that a two year old will be homosexual because he doesn’t play with Tonka trucks exclusively. To a two year old.

The part that really irked me though was when I realized how it was affecting him. He showed everyone he talked to for about a week his pretty, shiny toenails with a big smile on his face. Then, gradually he got shy about it. He started wanting to wear his sneakers again. He stopped offering to show them to people he didn’t know pretty well. He would bury them in the sofa when my mother came around.

He had been so excited, so proud of having painted nails and the world had gone and ruined it for him. 
It hurt my heart. It hurt a lot. I know he is just a little kid but when the world hurts your little kid you want to hurt it back. It’s not fair that people can be so cruel. He is a little kid. It’s not that “he doesn’t know better” it’s that he wants to explore his world. I, for one, intend on helping him to explore and learn about his world in every way I can.

Those of you that know D. That have had the pleasure of meeting and playing with him, you know that D is well rounded. Does he love pink? Yes, he does very much. Does he love Tonka trucks? Yes, he does. D is very well rounded. It is something that I have always admired in him. He is comfortable in any situation with any crowd of people. He can sit and play Barbie or he can romp and dig in the mud.

So, why should I stop him? Truth is, I’m not going to. Not a chance. I may draw the line occasionally (like refusing to buy the pink, sparkly Dora jellies he really wants from Payless shoes. Who knows though, he may end up with those yet.) but for the most part, I am not going to hold my kid back because the close minded disagree.

Next time you see a little boy all excited about having his toes painted or a little girl covered in mud playing with a truck, think before you speak. Smile and know that it’s okay. It isn’t weird or out of the ordinary. Its freedom. Its encouragement. Its love.


  1. I completely 100% agree. 120% actually.

  2. oh, my heart. so sad that the commentary started to get to him.

    i don't understand people's obsession with gender stereotypes like that. who cares if he wears pink, plays with dolls, etc, etc?! that whole "turn them gay" mentality is beyond my understanding. (because it's stupid)

  3. Most boys love pink actually! Doesn't mean they'll grow up homosexual. It's just a COLOR for pete's sake. And my husband paints his nails funky colors (he also has a mohawk, piercings and tattoos and looks "tough"). Let him have fun! Boys can play with dolls; it'll help make him a WONDERFUL father one day when nurturing his desire to play house or with baby dolls. Keep at it, sweetie.

  4. Oh and it makes me so sad how people reacted to him and how he went from excited to ashamed. He's a LITTLE child. Arg, I can't even say anything else because I'm so frustrated!

  5. @the grumbles
    Me either. That type of backwards homophobia has no place in my life...

  6. @Joy@WhenDoesDaddyComeHome
    Exactly! Thing is, D is a rough boy. He is all boy but he loves the girly stuff too. It makes him perfect to me. He is a well rounded individual and I am confident that I am helping be the person he is going to be without shame. The others? Need to grow up.

    People are mean.


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