Luckily we are in the early, albeit embryonic, stages of a full-on cultural revolution when it comes to all things non-binary, gender fluid and trans. In other words, we're expanding the very definition of what it means to be a boy or a girl or neither.
Wouldn’t it be great if the dawning of this new age could, too, celebrate a major shift in how we raised our boys and girls?
I mean, there'd have to be a serious purging of all the gender-slanted products that we suffocate our baby girls and boys with from the moment they are born. We'd have to look a little more carefully at what society is saying to them, what we're saying to them.
Let's start with a list of what I'd like to see go first, immediately, like right now. I'm just so over it. Let's be done.
Starting with the girls:
1. Pink bedrooms, sheets, mobiles, slippers, onesies, curtains, nursing chairs, ottoman, bath towels, bedding. You get the point. Pink is not just for girls, your daughter will be no less a girl without it. But you are reinforcing the subtle clues of gender identity—the expectations society and, through purchasing/decorating decisions, you are expressing to your daughters. Enough!
2. Ballerinas as icons for girls everywhere. Do you even know a real live ballerina who is over the age of 12 and has any sort of healthy relationship to food? Let’s continue to promote a ridiculously unattainable career goal that will render you broke, starved and in a wheelchair by 35.
3. Add Princesses and mermaids to that list. I know a real princess, and she’s the coolest, butch lesbian who has probably never worn a lick of make up or a sparkly dress, ever. And we all know that mermaids are total assholes.
4. Smothering our girls with "girl toys" that hurdle them, from Day 1, into those good ol’ female roles, ones that require ovens, kitchens, stoves, baking kits, brooms, vacuums, baking toys and real-looking babies with bottles, tears and diapers. Let’s get our baby nicely primed for nurturing and cleaning another baby while she’s a baby. And then remark to ourselves how she was never really interested in math or science and, as a bonus, refer to her as a "girlie girl."
5. Let’s also abolish all dolls who sport hooker hair, makeup, big-ass perky tits, slutty clothes, have zero vaginas and walk around in high heels 24/7 because their feet are perma-arched.
People who tell little girls how "pretty" they are upon meeting them.
6. Unicorns are awesome, but let's also see them on boys' backpacks, too. So yeah, maybe bring on the backpacks with unicorns in the boy section of the Pottery Barn catalogue. Or eliminate the boy and girl sections altogether and just let kids play with what they want.
7. People who tell little girls how "pretty" they are upon meeting them. I have such a visceral reaction to this that I feel like tasering these idiots. So I think this should be illegal. It’s that kind of wrong.
8. Making girls curtsey and boys bow at the end of a children’s show. What are we in England? Let’s all bow.
9. Girl clothes co-opting the rainbow. Why do we only see rainbows on girl clothing, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc.? Is there something about light refracted in water droplets that only humans with vaginas can appreciate? Anyway, didn’t we give this one to the gays? Rainbows don't even belong to us anymore—not that it ever did.
Now, with the boys:
1. Guns, swords, weapons, army toys, war models and games that only reinforce what the psychosis of a testosterone imbalance looks like.
2. Bedding, pajamas, T-shirts, backpacks, etc., with nothing but tractors, fire engines and sports balls on them. As if these are the only things boys like to do or can do. Just hop on over to Pottery Barn if you plan to never see a robot on a girls lunchbox. Apparently, only boys like robots because you're hard-pressed to find tech clothing (or surfboards or sharks or just generally cool shit) over in the girl section.
3. Putting balls and bats in boys’ hands before they can stand up.
Making boys watch sports on TV before they have a choice to.
4. Onesies that say, “My daddy and I both like nice boobs,” “See my balls, I’m a boy,” “If you think I’m a stud, you should see my Uncle,” “I’m the proof that daddy doesn’t fish all the time,” “Don’t you wish your aunt was hot like mine?” “Future ladies man,” “My dad is jealous, I had boobs for breakfast” and on and on. Let’s start their douchebag training while they’re still on the boob.
5. Signing him up for karate and not dance.
6. Never dressing him in pink or purple.
7. Sloganizing him with off-the wall, bat-shit sayings like, "Toughen up, buck up, boys don’t cry."
8. Teaching boys to “Fight like man.”
9. Avoiding activities and sports because we associate them with girls, such as (non-competitive) cooking, dance and figure skating.
10. Teaching boys to open doors for girls only, and not teaching girls to hold open the door for girls and boys, too.
11. Making boys watch sports on TV before they have a choice to.
A lot of this seems like a major "duh" stuff (unless it outrages you and, if that's the case, you'll have to figure out why it does).
But even for progressive, artsy Los Angeles, I still see each and every one of the above on a daily basis. Maybe finding a more gender-neutral world, where children discovered their gender before it’s pushed upon them, isn’t as easy as we think. Then again, no one said any of this would be easy.