The title is a bit misleading. The answer to the question, “Why is Santa bringing my son a pink suitcase for Christmas” is very, very simple: Because it’s what he asked for. And that would make for a very short blog entry.
What this entry is really about is why I think it’s totally cool that my son wants a pink Trunki for Christmas and how I wish he would always ask for sweet pink things for Christmas. Well, for as long as he wants to anyway.
This morning I read an excellent, slightly tongue-in-cheek article calling for a National “Let Your Boy Be a Girl” Day. And I thought YES. I’m so glad someone else is saying this.
I have watched all three of my sons begin life with a refreshing, joyful openness to all experience. Yes, my boys started loving engines and trucks and airplanes from an early age in a manner that seemed clearly biologically programmed. But at the same time… all three of them adored the color pink, they all loved to dress up in fancy clothes (one threw the largest fit of his life when he found out he wouldn’t be allowed to wear a dress to his great-grandfather’s funeral), all loved to paint their nails, all three were attracted to toys in both the boy’s and girl’s sections of the stores.
Everett (age 3) proudly pulls a pink princess rolling backpack behind him whenever we leave the house, and announces that: “If it’s pink, it’s mine. If it’s not pink… it’s still mine.”
Sadly, I know his pink time is limited. Because I’ve watched the world constrict for my older two as they’ve grown, even from the haven of our open-minded unschooling homeschool. I’ve watched how at a certain age, my children start noticing sideways glances and embarrassed giggles from relatives and friends when they announce their favorite color, or show off the lipstick they’ve happily applied to their lips. They start to see the raised eyebrows from store employees when they run joyfully down the pink toy aisle. They start to hear the whispered comments. And so, when some other, slightly older and significantly more jaded male child looks down his nose at them and sniffs with utter contempt, “You don’t like PINK, do you? PINK is for GIRLS…” Well, when that happens, they are primed and that is the moment when their world shrinks.
Eli (age 7) now peers down the pink aisle of the toy store with disdain… but, as his mother, I can feel its draw for him, under the surface of his carefully cultured contempt. I can feel the longing. Not necessarily longing to BE a girl–in fact, I know he doesn’t want to BE a girl. He just wants the freedom to be what he is, to be interested in whatever interests him, to not have to worry that he will call down shame upon himself for wondering if there might be cool toys down *that* aisle as well.
Monty (age 10)… well, he’s pretty thoroughly into guns and video games and legoes (favorite colors: yellow and black), and I don’t think he even looks down the pink aisle any more. I wonder. Would he? If he hadn’t heard the societal taboo so early? Who knows. How could we ever know?
Does it matter? I think it does. I can’t really say it any better than Soraya Chemaly does: “Boys will discover their own interpretations of their gender if they’re given the freedom to explore masculinity–and femininity–on their own.” I believe my children will become better men if they have the freedom to explore the world without fear of shame or disgrace for being interested in a category of things named “feminine.”
And that’s without even going into the depths of what it says about women when we tell boys that being “girly” is “shameful.” Really? What does that make girls? What does it tell our little boys about the value of femininity?
I kind of like the idea of a National “Let Your Boy Be a Girl Day.” Better yet, maybe we can just have a National “Leave Kids Alone and Let Them Be What They Want to Be” Day. We could start a movement. We could call it “Occupy Pink.” Who’s in?