Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Danger: Sparkly Toes Ahead

Careful. These sparkly toes may end society as we know it.

I had a couple of other posts almost ready to toss up today...one describing a workshop I attended at the inspirational CLPP conference this past weekend, and yet another post expressing (more) outrage at the attacks against Planned Parenthood. However, those two got pushed aside when I read this article.

A week ago I posted about J. Crew and how they included a picture of a Jenna Lyons (who I've come to learn is an executive director of J. Crew!) painting her son's toenails. I mentioned how a few people on J. Crew's Facebook wall had some snarky comments, but that overall, the picture was well received.

I apparently spoke too soon.

While I'm almost hesitant to link to the Fox News article that vilifies J. Crew, Jenna, and these photos for fear of spreading these ugly untruths, I have to believe that if you're reading this blog to begin with, you're aware enough to know what is fact and what is not.

The most disheartening aspect for me is that the author of the Fox News article is a psychiatrist, and so the fear that some people might take his word as gospel is very real. The author of the article, Dr. Keith Ablow, insinuates that by allowing her son to paint his toe nails pink that Jenna Lyons is planting the seeds of gender identity confusion in her child.

That line of thinking is completely mystifying in my mind. How is allowing a boy to paint his toe nails any more confusing than allowing a girl to play with toy tools? Both actions buck the stereotypical gender norms society has become overly comfortable with, but do either really jeopardize young children's gender identity?

There were many parts of Ablow's article that caused my blood pressure to rise and see red. While many of his points incited anger, some just left me scratching my head.

The fallout is already being seen. Increasingly, girls show none of the reticence they once did to engage in early sexual relationships with boys. 

If anybody can explain to me how allowing young boys to paint their toe nails or dress up in princess costumes relates to young girls engaging in sexual relationships with boys at an earlier age, I am all ears. Ablow continues with his rhetoric, confusing me even further...

...it will be a very big deal if it turns out that neither gender is very comfortable anymore nurturing children above all else, and neither gender is motivated to rank creating a family above having great sex forever and neither gender is motivated to protect the nation by marching into combat against other men and risking their lives.

The fact that my son plays "family" and lovingly cuddles his dolls (as well as paints his nails and dresses up on occasion) actually gives me hope that he will be a loving, caring and nurturing father (if he so chooses to be one). I don't think that by allowing young children the freedom to express their creativity and imagination is going to risk the breakdown of the "great American family," nor will it diminish the numbers in our armed forces. To connect to blurring of gender lines to these issues is jumping a huge gap with very shaky support.

What pains me the most is that here is a person with a voice that reaches many and he's essentially using it to preach that "different is bad." This sentiment is incredibly scary in a time where we've seen a rash of attempted (and sadly, successful) suicides amongst teenagers because they've felt bullied for being different. While it may not be blatant, the undercurrent of bullying in the Fox News article is certainly present, and I found myself unable to stay quiet about it.

Hopefully there are those of you out there who feel the same way...that allowing a boy to paint his nails or wear a dress won't actually be the end of the world. In fact, it just might be the beginning of a better one, filled with compassion, understanding and acceptance.

1 comment:

naelany said...

amen and hallelujah. You know I'm not a parent. You also know how I feel about this, since this has been the topic of discussion a few times for us ;-)

I couldn't agree with you more :-)