Dave Policar cited this post which I rather like and thought I would repost as well:
Today, as usual, $name_radacted got up and dressed herself in a frilly
purple dress, a delicate purple knitted sweater, and blue fleece pants
with hearts on them. Then she came downstairs and did gymnastics for a
while and then we went to daycare and tried to do chin-ups on the adult
tables. I love that. You love it. Everyone loves it. Later in life she
will face unfairness and they will tell her she can't do the rings in
gymnastics and she'll learn that women's hockey is different and that
women's uniforms are skimpy and she'll watch Olympic volleyball players
sliding across the sand in bikinis, but right now she is in a perfect
halcyon moment of freedom and joy.
Here is how it is for boys.
Boys are policed for dress and behavior at two, three years old. I left
a local parent's email list because people kept writing in for advice
on how to stop their three-year-old sons from wearing dresses. It was
couched in this vile language of "I worry about him at school" but
there was not even a breath of "how can I help my son be okay at
school" or "how can I support my son's choices even if school doesn't
allow it." No. It was all "how can I make him stop." In other words:
"Help me enforce the repression I assume will come from his classmates.
Help it come from me."
Let me be blunt: you must never do this.
Never. Parenting styles are different and families are different and
children are different but on this point there can be no negotiation:
you must never do this. You must never do it to your own children, to
your friends's children, to children at the park. You must never
sympathize with other parents who do it. It should be melodrama and
hysteria to say this kills children but we know, right now, that
I know it's not easy. I know it's ingrained. I know
it's uncomfortable. I know it's habit. I know other people judge. We
can talk about how and when and practice and flinching away from
conflict. Those are fine. But we are adults. It is hideous and insane
and unbearable that the stakes are this high, but we do not let
children pay our debts just because we can't believe anyone agreed to
those terms. Our embarassment is not more important than a child's
The comments are pretty interesting, but then that is what I expect of people posting on Dave's blog.
Still, the post above reminded me of one of my favorite XKCD cartoons:
2 thoughts on “What not to wear, or our desire to make people conform”
Great commentary – did you see the Salon article about the guy struggling to let his son wear pink? http://bit.ly/aHi0ep
Also, interestingly, Tim Gunn (one of the kings of what not to wear) has posted his ‘It Gets Better’ video in which he talks about a youthful suicide attempt.
No I hadnt seen either the Salon article or Tim Gunns video. Thanks for telling me about them!