March 13, 2014

If Son Grows Up To Be A Firetruck And Gender Equality

Son likes Daughter's dress-up high heels and tiaras.  He loves running around with her fairy wings on and thinks make-up is fun. Daughter likes Legos and not just the pink girly ones.  She also thinks crashing Hot Wheels into each other and screaming, "Oh, the carnage!" is hilariously fun. Can you guess which one people are more uncomfortable with?

If you guessed Son wearing a tiara, DING! DING! DING! Congratulations.  People are way more inclined to comment on the fact that Son likes "girl" things. Why? Thank you feminist movement!  Daughter can be anything she wants to be including a doctor, an astronaut or in the military.  She can play with anything she wants to including blocks and cars.  Encouraging girls to do well in math and science and strive for male dominated professions is standard now.  Yet, boys writing poetry and playing with dolls is met with disapproval and laughter.  If that same boy puts that poetry with a melody and rocks it out while wearing tight jeans, with a couple of tattoos on rock hard biceps and soulful blue eyes, well, then he's a heart throb…that's off subject though. Made you look musicians a little differently though, didn't I?  Point being, somehow in the movement for gender equality, boys were left behind.

I'm sorry but I believe Son wearing a tiara means he's going to be gay when he grows up makes about as much sense as him running around making firetruck siren sounds means he's going to grow up to be a firetruck.  Why is it that we are so uncomfortable with boys playing with "girl" stuff and yet, girls playing with "boy" stuff is empowering?

This view was brought to my attention even more this past Christmas.  We were at a Christmas party with Him's family. One of our nieces got a pretty princess kit with a tiara, high heels, a purse and jewelry.  Son instantly wanted the high heels and tiara on.  This was met with snickers and comments about how we needed squash that behavior.  I know this was all in jest and they all love Son, so please don't attack them cuz I know they are not the only ones who would react this way.  Yet, meanwhile, Daughter was in the middle of the room playing with the flatbed truck carrying a front loader that had lights and horn noises, which was Son's present, and no one commented or snickered about this in the least.

No one asks when Daughter plays with Legos whether or not I'm afraid she'll end up being a lesbian.  Watch Son put a tiara on and call it a hat and oh boy, I'm setting him up to be gay if I don't instantly snatch it off his head.  So, first, is this really what we call equality? And second, why does it matter?

In the rush to make sure our daughters know they can be anything they want to be, we have seemingly forgotten to tell our sons the same thing.  I have a male friend who is a nurse.  He takes crap for this every day.  He's constantly asked questions about if he's scheduled his sex change yet, what it's like to be doing a "girl" job and why he didn't try to be a doctor instead.  I also have a female friend who is a foreman for a construction company and her femininity and sexual orientation are never questioned.  Being a male in a female dominated profession is met with some sort of disapproval, I mean, come on, be a man!  Being a female in a male dominated profession is met with not only approval but it's viewed as some sort of victory, you go girl, GIRL POWER!  Yay for gender equality!  Cuz the true meaning of equality is glaring differences!?!?

Then there's the question of why does it matter?  If Son likes tiaras, can't it just be because he likes tiaras?  Daughter likes Legos just because they're fun to build with.  Is there really some connecting invisible line that is drawn from a boy playing with "girl" toys to the shame he should feel for liking it as being "gay"?  Should it really be looked at as "gay"?  I thought we were trying to stop bashing anything as "gay" because that was prejudiced towards homosexuals?  So not only has it set our sons back but it also has stomped the acceptance of homosexuality in the face.

What if Daughter or Son come to me one day and tell me they are gay?  Should I blame myself for letting them play with the wrong gendered toys? Should I love them less?  Maybe I should kick them out of the house?  I should probably tell them how wrong that is and let them know how much I disapprove so that maybe they'll understand that to get my love back they should repress those feelings to the point of depression and possibly even suicide cuz that's what a good parent would do? OK, I'm being slightly dramatic there but it has happened, I'm sure of that.

You may remember, I used to play hockey.  I also used to have VERY short hair and I wasn't ever a boy chasing kind of chick.  I think the first one of my boyfriends anyone in my family ever met was my husband.  My grandma used to ask my mom if I was a lesbian.  My mom's answer was always, "I don't know but so what if she is? If she comes out to me tomorrow, I'll tell her I love her."  I always knew my mom's love was not based on my sexual preference.  I think every kid should have the reassurance that no matter what, and I mean NO! MATTER! WHAT!, their parents have their back. I understand that some things kids do will disappoint a parent and yes, you will probably be disappointed in at least one thing your child does in their life but, that shouldn't be reasoning for them to question your love for them EVER!

I will not be snatching the tiara off Son's head or the Hot Wheels out of Daughter's hands.  I understand two very simple truths.  For one, Son loves anything Daughter does and mimics almost everything she does so for now, that tiara is so very cool because it's his big sister's tiara.  Next, I love my kids for exactly who they are.  They are awesomeness topped with crazy coolness and a side of superb and I want them to be who they are and to be confident in every aspect of who they are yet to become.  I also want them to know that they can come to me with anything and I will always love them.  I truly do believe that Daughter can be anything she puts her mind to.  I also truly believe Son can.  If Daughter becomes an engineer, I will applaud her.  If Son becomes a kindergarten teacher, I will applaud him.  If Daughter becomes a nurse and Son becomes a fireman, I will applaud them both, still. If Son comes to me later in life wearing a tiara with his wife on his arm and Daughter crawls out from under her car, covered in grease, to kiss her husband, I'll tell them I love them and that they are still as awesomely cool as ever.  If Son crawls out from under his car, covered in grease, to kiss his boyfriend and Daughter comes to me wearing a tiara with her girlfriend on her arm, I'll tell them I love them and they are still as awesomely cool as ever.

If Son grows up to be a firetruck, I will have a much harder time accepting that.