When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie started letting their daughter walk around in clothing that was more traditionally seen on “boys,” a few people gasped, but most saw it as cute. When a fellow blogger let her son dress as one of his favorite characters, Daphne from Scooby Doo, she was ridiculed by many and it was implied by some that her son was gay! All of this raises the question. How important are gender boundaries and why exactly are they so important?
When my 7 year old son was five, he asked me for a baby doll while we were at a garage sale. It came with a backpack full of fun accessories and he really wanted it, so I bought it for him. He played with that baby doll and took care of it for weeks and I never thought anything of it. Eventually, it is something that he outgrew and it went on to join a new family. Throughout the years, my boys have played with my old Barbies at my mom’s house, the same son has a love of Disney Princesses and occasionally Hello Kitty, but do I think anything of it? No. Why not? Simply because anyone should be free to like, wear, participate in or speak about whatever they like, regardless of gender.
Was I supposed to think my son was gay because he had a need to nurture and care for a baby doll? No, I personally feel that makes him sympathetic to other’s needs and that is a lesson I would not want to stop him from learning. Why is it that society tends to take less offense to a girl who plays with trucks than a boy who plays with dolls? What’s the difference?
Personally, I don’t think gender boundaries are necessary. If any of my boys came to me tomorrow and said that they would feel more comfortable wearing dresses each day, I would let them. Not because I am encouraging them to be a certain way, but because I want them to grow up with a strong sense of self and truly know and believe in who they are.
I think many people encourage clear gender boundaries because they are afraid of what the alternative may lead to. Letting your son play with a doll or dress as a girl is not going to turn him into a homosexual, that is a decision he will come to in his own time despite what you dressed him in or allowed him to play with and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not saying you have to encourage your son to put on a dress, but if he wants to do it once to see what it is like or to wear as a costume, do you really think it is going to turn him gay?
Perhaps by allowing our children to bend the gender boundaries a bit, they will all learn valuable skills and characteristics from the other side of the fence. What are your thoughts on gender boundaries, are they important and why?