Thursday, January 06, 2011

Simple and complex, boys and girls

Apparently there was a segment on the Today show yesterday with a boy who likes to wear dresses and his mother, who explained that she lets him do it because it makes him happy. Perhaps the feedback has been more balanced that what I've seen on the innernets, but mostly I've seen people criticizing the mother for letting her son do this.

As a father who lets his son dress up in whatever he wants, I wanted to explain why I do. There are two reasons: the simple and the complex.

The simple reason...
It makes him happy. So why don't I let him eat cake all day, since that would make him happy too? Because that would also make him sick and and I don't like to clean up barf. I don't mind picking up a taffeta dress every once in awhile, however.

I also let him do things that make him happy that I don't agree with, like playing guns. He's a kid, fercrissakes, trying to figure all this stuff out. Just because he shoots all of the stuffed animals on his bed, I don't think he's going to grow up to be Michael Vick.

The complex reason...
Because girls and women are valuable too. We often celebrate girls and women who do things that are traditionally male activities in our culture, like go to war, play football and drive race cars. If we don't celebrate boys and men who do things that are traditionally female activities in our culture we send a clear, if implicit, message that male activities are valuable and worth celebrating and female activities are not valuable and should be avoided, unless required.

Just as people are quick to say that playing football makes their little girl a more complete person, wearing dresses makes my son a more complete person too.

Because if you think for a minute that he doesn't pursue all of the traditionally boy activities, as did I, such as playing guns, war, dinosaurs, construction equipment, planes, dirt, swords and so forth, then you've never been shot dead in a fierce sword battle with Zorro in a wedding dress.

And you're poorer for it.

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1 comment:

  1. I am proud to be related to you.

    That is all.

    ReplyDelete