There is a recent article on Yahoo that discusses a J. Crew ad that shows J. Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting her son’s toenails pink. Apparently there was a large uproar from what the article describes as “culture warriors.”
While, I don’t describe myself as a “culture warrior,” I do consider myself someone who believes that children soak up messages as quickly as their clothes get dirty. Impressions are made, lessons are learned, examples are set. I am one of those people that believes that if you teach a child at a young age that something is OK, then that will influence his/her childhood and beliefs as an adult.
Now, I’m not at all suggesting that painting a little boy’s toenails will “turn him gay” or that letting your daughter play with a truck will cause her to start liking girls – not at all. What I am suggesting is that by allowing children to participate in activities that are innately tapping into the other gender’s nature, it will make them MORE open to doing similar activities, which could put them in circumstances that might not be ideal for the character traits you’re trying to instill in your son or daughter.
For example – if it’s OK for a girl to start playing with trucks, maybe she starts becoming interested in cars, and starts working with machinery and doing auto repair, and then starts working at a mechanic shop. Again, each of those things is not BAD. But now we have a situation where a woman is working in an environment surrounded by men. In reality, for a woman to even hold her own around men, she has to start acting tougher, more macho, essentially – more manly. To me, that isn’t ideal (or safe.)
As another example, let’s take a mother painting her son’s toes bright pink. Maybe then the son starts thinking it’s fun to put on mommy’s clothes and jewelry, and starts to really like clothes and wants to get into women’s fashion design. Something that “seemed cute” for a little boy is now budding into a career for a young man. But now, he has to be around women all the time, and in order to stay professional, he has to “turn-off” the normal manly instincts to look at or be attracted to women. To do well at his job, he has to think what a woman wants to look like, imagine how the woman would feel in the clothing item, picture what women would be looking for in a woman’s outfit. He starts to think like a woman.
In both of those examples, you have one gender starting to act or think more like the opposite gender. And while many wives sometimes wish their husbands could read our minds, I don’t think any of us wants them to start acting like one of our girl friends. And while we’re speaking of husbands – if we wouldn’t want our husbands to walk around wearing nail polish, why would we put it on our sons?
Before anyone get’s too excited, let me clearly say that there is NOTHING WRONG with a female mechanic or a male fashion designer IF they have chosen those professions based own their OWN preferences, built from their OWN experiences, and not from parental influence to sway them by encouraging behavior towards the opposite gender. If a girl was raised in an environment where she could be a princess and chooses to be a mechanic – that is her choice. But if a girl was raised by her parents to act like a boy, then her choice is taken away, and she is living the repercussions of how she was raised – not necessarily what she would have wanted. Likewise, if a boy was raised in a manner where he could play football or hockey, for example, and then chooses to be a fashion designer – that is still HIS choice. He was raised with a manly foundation and has that to stand on in the fashion industry. If during his childhood, his mom painted his toenails pink, she is influencing him towards a more womanly nature – not HIS choice, hers.
Again, I am not saying that any of these actions will turn a child gay. I am saying that these actions could make it more acceptable for boys to start acting like girls and for girls to start acting like boys. I’m also not saying that doing any ONE thing will send a child permanently down a path towards being like the opposite gender. But EVERY thing leaves a mark. EVERY thing has an impact on our children’s lives.
So am I a “culture warrior”? No. Am I someone who wants my sons to act like sons and not daughters? Yes.