Friday, August 21, 2015

Blue is not for girls

  • Girls can't like blue! That's a BOY color. 
  • Girls can't wear pants! Only BOYS wear pants! 
  • Hahahaha look at that girl who likes Batman and Superman costumes! Those are for BOYS. She is going to turn out to have issues isn't she! How could her parents let her wear that, isn't it embarrassing? 
  • Wait, you want to grow up and be a surgeon or a pilot? Well, honey, you see, usually MEN do that kind of work. Why don't you consider something else? 
  • Did you really by your daughter black and blue pajamas? And you let her wear them to walk the dog in the morning? Its just...weird...isn't it? 
  • Well, sweetie, the blue ones are for the boys---here take the pink one. You like BLUE better? Haha. well, that's different! 
  • Why are you taking her to sport class? Wouldn't she be more comfortable taking ballet? 
  • Is that girl riding a BLUE scooter?! Carrying a Ninja turtles backpack?
  • How could you let your daughter cut her hair so short? She looks like a boy. You should make her grow it out. 
  • And her nails are all dirty and unpainted, she looks like a scruffy little boy 
  • Are you buying this as a gift, or is it for your daughter? Oh really, that's typically a toy that BOYS like, are you sure she wants the army figurines/Lego space kit/cars? 
  • Hmmmm. Most of the Star Wars themed birthday parties I've been to are for BOYS. Did she really choose that theme? 
  • Well, hopefully she'll grow out of it and turn out to be more of a REAL GIRL as she gets older, because she's in for a lot of teasing once she starts school. 
 What the patriarchal/misogynistic/sexist bul!sh*t, right?

Well, as the mother of a kid who wants nothing to do with traditional gender norms, I've heard all of these things in the past 2 years, but turned around just a little...
  • Boys can't like pink! That's a GIRL color. 
  • Boys can't wear dresses! Only GIRLS wear dresses! 
  • Hahahaha look at that boy who likes Princess costumes! Those are for GIRLS. He is going to turn out to have issues isn't he! How could his parents let him wear that, isn't it embarrassing? 
  • Wait, you want to grow up and be a nurse or a pre-school teacher? Well, buddy, you see, usually WOMEN do that kind of work. Why don't you consider something else? 
  • Did you really by your son pink and purple pajamas? And you let him wear them to walk the dog in the morning? Its just...weird...isn't it? 
  • Well, sweetie, the pink ones are for the girls---here take the blue one. You like PINK better? Haha. well, that's different!  
  • Why are you taking him to dance class? Wouldn't he be more comfortable taking soccer? 
  • Is that boy riding a PURPLE scooter?! Carrying a Elsa  backpack?
  • How could you let your son grow his hair so long? He looks like a girl. You should make him cut it.
  • And his nails are painted pink and sparkly. He looks like a girl
  • Are you buying this as a gift, or is it for your son? Oh really, that's typically a toy that GIRLS like, are you sure he wants the Barbies/dollhouse/Lego Friends kit? 
  • Hmmmm. Most of the Frozen themed birthday parties I've been to are for GIRLS. Did he really choose that theme? 
  • Well, hopefully he'll grow out of it and turn out to be more of a REAL BOY as he gets older, because he's in for a lot of teasing once he starts school. 
I consider it more patriarchal/misogynistic/sexist bul!sh*t.

When "girl" things are denigrated to our boys---we are denigrated GIRLS. And we are limiting our boys, denying their preferences and interests, teaching them to hide certain aspects of their personality. Break down those walls on all sides! Superheroes, princesses, football and sparkles for all. They'll grow up to be wonderful nurses, surgeons, teachers, pilots, mothers, fathers and anything else they dream of.

I've been sitting on this post for a while, for many reasons, but KeAnne's post inspired me to publish it.


  1. You think the former list is obviously bs (and it is) but they still say that stuff where I (usually) live, and a lot more sotto.

    Of course I have also heard guys threaten to make their sons wear pink as a punishment, as something worse than a whupping. So awful.

    Contrast to the CA Montessori when I was 4 where I got in trouble for making fun of a boy for having a doll and the teachers told my mom to buy me free to be you and me, which she did. And they were right.

    Good luck with all this. Stupid culture.

  2. Your son sounds awesome! I'm sorry you have been subjected to those comments. Both of those scenarios are BS. I don't understand why we can't let kids be kids and figure out what they like for themselves.

  3. I think he sounds awesome and bright and confident and interesting. And those comments are awful and intolerable on so many levels. I'm glad you posted this.

    1. "confident"---he was, until he started hearing this stuff....he's becoming more and more self-conscious and unsure.

  4. love this post. as a mother of two toddlers (one girl, one boy), I so appreciate this reminder.

  5. Have you read Catherine Newman? She has some great posts about her son's non-gender-conforming choices:

  6. It's really hard being different. I'm sorry he's been subjected to this bs at such a young age and that its negatively influencing how he feels about himself. I'm personally grateful that in this city my daughter can wear her batman t shirt and play in the dirt and nobody has said anything yet. I hope it lasts.

    1. I think it will. I see lots of girls 5-10 wearing super hero stuff and playing sports and getting dirty. It may change after puberty---though, based on what I saw with my friends/classmates. Not because people teased them, but because...i dunno.

  7. I am so conflicted about this... On the one hand, you want to support your kid in whatever they want to do. On the other hand, you want to protect them from the inevitable ridicule and sometimes even violence when they don't conform to gender norms. I think it's much worse for boys who are seen as girly than for girls who are seen as tomboyish, because "girly" means a weak, lower being, while "tomboyish" is weird but is not weak or subhuman. In college, I had a friend who wore long hair and long painted nails (he was straight, btw). You have no idea how many times he was in danger of being beaten up for looking queer, and did occasionally take a beating. The righteous rage that non-gender-conforming men can illicit in dudebro homophobes is truly frightening.

    My middle boy, who is a "boys' boy" wanted his nails painted one day when he was in preschool. He came back all sad because the kids made fun of him and the nail polish had to go. A few years later, my youngest insisted to have his nails painted on both hands and feet, and in pretty bright colors (pink, purple). He was wearing them like a champ, and I someone tried to make fun of him but he brushed it off. This inspired his now 8-yr-old middle brother to have his toes (but only toes) painted in the colors of his favorite football teams (49ers and Patriots).

    I was so conflicted about painting the little guy's nails. It took all I had to not comment on girls painting nails etc. because I didn't want him to be teased. But I didn't say anything, because he's 4; there is no way he will escape being informed by the society what is acceptable and what isn't; I don't have to be the one to start it. He can have hot pink nails on his adorable chubby hands! (They were really cute.) The painted nails were a phase for a few weeks and he doesn't ask for them any more.

    I really feel for the parents of gender-nonconforming kids. I imagine it must be a real struggle balancing the desire to accept your kid for what they are 100% and trying to protect them from ridicule and potential harm from the society that is much less accepting of diversity...

    1. Reading my comment above, it perhaps comes across as obnoxious (not what I intended). Let me try to be a little more clear:

      Absolute acceptance of one's child is absolutely the way to go.

      But I imagine it must break one's heart to know that the child is facing a difficult road ahead because of who they are, and how unfair it all is.

    2. No, I totally get what you mean. Its been a tough balance. Kids aren't stupid, they know what boys vs. girls generally do. Since he was 2, B would say to me "boys don't wear dresses. why not?" and I'd say "yes, its silly, isn't it, everyone should wear what they want". But when he asked for dresses to wear, we put him off, saying "I didn't see any in the store" and then we bought him a "dress up" princess dress to wear at home & for Halloween or dress-up day at school since we felt weird about him wearing regular clothes from the girls section on a daily basis. On the other hand, buying him the "pink" version of things like scooters or pencil cases doesn't weird me out at all, nor does painting his toe nails pink & sparkly (both my boys ask for that, and L is the typical "all boy" one. painted toenails are fun!) but I don't do their fingernails (I don't do mine either). B takes his shoes/socks off for karate and no one has ever said a word about his toenails, though its all boys in the class.