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"And ... this little pinky went to ... "
April 15, 2011 4:15 PM   Subscribe

"J. Crew's president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting the toenails of her son Beckett in an ad was sent to customers last week in a feature, 'Saturday with Jenna.'* "'Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink,' says the caption. 'Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.'" Result: social conservatives go nuts.

This week psychiatrist and neoconservative television personality Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a FoxNews.com Health column about the ad:
"This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity."
"Media Research Center’s Erin Brown agreed, calling the ad 'blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.'"*
"'Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future,' Brown wrote. J. Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics.'"
posted by ericb (105 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jon Stewart: Toemageddon 2011 - This Little Piggy Went to Hell [video | 06:11].
posted by ericb at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]




You know what I call grown-ass adults who write entire articles about a little boy's feet?

Pretty goddamn creepy.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 4:17 PM on April 15, 2011 [65 favorites]


Oh ... and, by the way -- Pink was a boy's color until the 40's.
posted by ericb at 4:18 PM on April 15, 2011 [58 favorites]


High five, kiddo.
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:19 PM on April 15, 2011


Result: social conservatives go nuts.

We can haggle over the specifics, but generally speaking I am strongly in favor of any plan that concludes with this sentence.
posted by mhoye at 4:20 PM on April 15, 2011 [59 favorites]


The thing is, if I had to guess, Jenna probably doesn't care about gender roles as much as her discriminators do. Welcome to freedom of speech bitches (conservatives that is)
posted by straight_razor at 4:20 PM on April 15, 2011


If gender roles are so natural, why do people freak out so much in the face of the smallest deviation?

/preachingtothechoir
posted by defenestration at 4:21 PM on April 15, 2011 [44 favorites]




Dr. Ablow speaks of the "psychological turmoil" that children will be destined to for not conforming to their gender roles as defined by society. From what I have seen, it is far more damaging for a young boy to receive discouragement from his parents about his interests because they are "girly".
posted by hugandpint at 4:24 PM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


I wholeheartedly agree with the comment from the psych who says that for kids this age this is totally normal behavior. What might actually mess this kid up is a bunch of negative attention over harmless behavior and healthy curiosity and sense of fun.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:24 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


My uncle said that his father put some red polish on the end of his big toenail, but only after he had clipped it to a point so it would leave a mark when he kicked you in the ass.
posted by jonmc at 4:25 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tangentially knew Keith years ago, and while he always had a forceful personality, I recalled him as more subtle and thoughtful than that FoxNews piece demonstrates.
posted by orthogonality at 4:25 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future

it doesn't mean anything in which case no loss, or it does in which case evil liberals ruin child's life

maintaining a conservative worldview sounds like an awful lot of work
posted by LogicalDash at 4:26 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Oh ... and, by the way -- Pink was a boy's color until the 40's."

Social conservative = "the way things were when I was growing up"

Y'know, it'd be nice to let kids have their own childhoods instead of yours. We've seen how you turned out, and would like to give it a miss, thanks.
posted by Eideteker at 4:26 PM on April 15, 2011 [50 favorites]


It's like social conservatives don't even believe transgender kids exist.

I mean think about it, think about how much "forcing" that kid to have pink toenails pisses them off.

Somewhere there is a kid who really wants pink toenails and has parents who won't let it happen, even for one playful moment.

Now think about what it must be like to be a kid living your entire life having things like that forced on you because of the expectations of parents who refuse to accept you for who you are.

It doesn't sound pleasant. It should piss them off a bit more than some toenails to think about those kids.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:28 PM on April 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Anecdotally, my mother painting my toenails when I was a boy hasn't lead to any noticeable personality disorders (but give it time, I'm only 22). Perhaps this was countered by the fact that she also played sports with me.
posted by MetalFingerz at 4:28 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]




Fuckwitery aside, once in a while something comes along that reminds me that every generation gets a little closer to just not caring. Thanks, J. Crew.
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:30 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


I really doubt playing with gender identity is as dangerous as so many conservatives claim. I figure it's normal for mothers to treat their sons like the daughters they never had, then wonder later why they turned out gay. *cough*
posted by selenized at 4:31 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


something comes along that reminds me that every generation gets a little closer to just not caring.
posted by you're a kitty!


Might seem that way to you now, but it's a pendulum that swings back and forth throughout history. You've seen things get slowly better, they will likely start getting worse again someday. Eternal vigilance and all that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:35 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


When did the phrase "Mind Your Own Fucking Business" go out of fashion? We should bring it back.
posted by facetious at 4:35 PM on April 15, 2011 [21 favorites]


Social conservative = "the way things were when I was growing up"

It's not even that simple. Social conservatives often base their ideas of the golden age on what their media portrayals were when they were growing up. So if you were in the 70's as a pre-teen, you identify the 50's "happy days" as the conservative ideal. If you were in the 60's as a pre-teen, you identify "leave it to beaver" as your conservative ideal. Worse yet, if you grew up in the 80's, you might identify with multiple contradictory portrayals of the "golden age."

That conservative ideal NEVER EXISTED.

um . . . cite.... of sorts.. if I had it, would be an "on the media" piece on NPR recently, I think, which pointed out quite nicely how everybody who idealizes a former time was born and raised after that time and can only have their image of that time formed by the fictional media portrayal of it.
posted by yesster at 4:39 PM on April 15, 2011 [30 favorites]


Result: social conservatives go nuts.

Yep. Right on cue, so that means the calculated social liberal reaction should also be arriving...

/looks at watch
/reads thread

... huh, I'm late. About an hour and a half ago, at least.

Anyway, if everything goes well for the planners, we'll see a good volley over a couple of days to a week and be left with a useful* impression.

* Not useful to you.
posted by namespan at 4:40 PM on April 15, 2011


When did the phrase "Mind Your Own Fucking Business" go out of fashion? We should bring it back.

But facetious: in business, the customer is always right-wing and an asshole whose supposedly bedrock values are faulty and falling apart and holy shit I just accidentally had gay sex.
posted by defenestration at 4:43 PM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


What might actually mess this kid up is a bunch of negative attention over harmless behavior and healthy curiosity and sense of fun.

Sounds like a good origin story for the next series of Halloween/Friday the 13th type movies.
posted by marxchivist at 4:44 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


namespan: as xkcd once said, I'm just glad you found a way to be superior to both "sides."
posted by defenestration at 4:44 PM on April 15, 2011


Fools! They are distracted by the pink toenails when naming a child after SAMUEL BECKETT IS CLEARLY ATHEISTIC PROPAGANDA DESIGNED TO MAKE THEATER OF THE ABSURD MORE PALATABLE TO CHILDREN!
posted by scody at 4:46 PM on April 15, 2011 [45 favorites]


well, at least all this manufactured controversy will help J.Crew sell their boring-ass clothes.
posted by jonmc at 4:47 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity."

It's like the quotes make fun of themselves.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:49 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


transgendered identity politics

Well, if you'd just let me change my gender marker on my birth certificate and driver's license without jumping through a bajillion Catch-22 hoops, my politics' paperwork wouldn't be such a mess.
posted by Wossname at 4:51 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


liberal, transgendered identity politics.

This is a really mean way to say "liberals stand up for oppressed minorities."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


Reproduction of my thoughts on friend's post of Dr. Keith's response on Facebook (which he, as a gay person, was offended by):
Social conservatives are really married to the idea of gender roles. They believe that heterosexual relationships are asymmetrical, with the woman serving as the caretaker and the man serving as the producer.

It's become particularly valuable with their war on non-traditional families. They can use this to argue that single parents can't satisfy everything their children need. They can use this to argue women shouldn't work, or that dads shouldn't stay at home and raise the kids. And they can use it especially with gay couples.

An offshoot of their insistance that marriage is all about fulfilling roles leads to the moronic idea that gay marriages have to be as asymmetric as a 1950's household. Namely, the idea that one person has to be "butch," and the other person has to be "effeminate" for the relationship to work out.

The idea of equality in straight or gay marriage just does not compute with these people.

It's best revealed in this bit: "And while that may seem like no big deal, 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."

First off, women and gays have been fighting for the right to volunteer in our armed forces. And is he saying we need to indoctrinate boys into a militaristic philosophy for natural defense?

And I know there are a lot of gay male couples who are glad to nurture and raise children. In fact, why would we have gay adoption in the first place if gay couples didn't want to nurture children?

This whole thing seems to imply that humans need a bunch of societal rules to reproduce and survive. This really makes me wonder how the hell we survived our hunter-gatherer days.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


I NEVER painted my fingernails...pink.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2011


When I saw this story, I thought: see, this is where it starts. After I wrote this comment a few weeks ago, I was discussing it with my husband. I said, it feels like progress that women/girls can do things previously societally reserved for men/boys, but how much progress have we made when men/boys still cannot have anything to do with "feminine" things? How equal do we really have a chance to be when these gender norms are still so rigidly enforced from the time we are tiny?

So many of the narratives (books, films, TV, cartoons) out there are male-driven with male main characters, and as girls we learn to adapt to this, because it's societally accepted that men are the standard, and women are lesser, not as interesting - boys don't want to watch "girl stuff", so we all have to watch boy stuff. We learn to absorb both the masculine and the feminine POVs presented, and integrate them into ourselves, but since boys are the standard, they don't have to, and what's more are actively discouraged from doing so, so how do they learn to identify with girls/women as people?

What does it do to an average boy to grow up being told over and over that girl stuff is yucky and girl stuff is wrong for boys and "don't be such a girl" and "what are you, a girl?" Then all of a sudden he hits the teenage years and the hormone rush, and now girls are good for something... one thing... they're still this mysterious, not-as-good, "other" but hot damn, do they got what men want, amirite?

What does it do to how many men learn to relate to women if the only ways they're shown are "is she fuckable?" or "is she your mother?" You end up with guys who can only pay attention to women who are attractive; "friends" means "I want to hook up if the opportunity arises"; your wife or your boss is a nag and wants to control you, just like your mother. Even though many men aren't this way, or try not to be this way, it's still so pervasive in our society; these are still the most common tropes.

I thought about this again when I watched this video I linked a couple days ago. Here is the quote that really spoke to me because it was so close to what I originally wrote earlier, and what I'd been thinking about since:

"I come to also look at this as this fear that we have as men, this fear that just has us paralyzed, holding us hostage to this man box. I can remember speaking to a 12 year-old boy, a football player, and I asked him, I said, “How would you feel if, in front of all the players, your coach told you you were playing like a girl?” Now I expected him to say something like, I’d be sad, I’d be mad, I’d be angry, or something like that. No, the boy said to me — the boy said to me, “It would destroy me.” And I said to myself, “God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?”
posted by flex at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [103 favorites]


defenestration: Heh. I don't care much about having a psuedonymous metafilter account/persona look superior to... well, anything, really, even if I did think noticing the dynamic meant I was above it, which I don't, since there are indeed times when I get as caught up in a reaction as anybody else and end up dancing my own jig to the piper's tune.

Mostly just pointing it out for the benefit of anybody who might not have noticed yet.
posted by namespan at 4:58 PM on April 15, 2011


Man, can't a guy just buy some docksiders without it turning into a culture war?
posted by madajb at 5:00 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Related: The Dicks - Little Boys Feet
posted by wcfields at 5:01 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Keith Ablow!? He's the guy who is standing creepily in the background of this hilarious book cover! Finally, some actions to put with the face.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 5:03 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I feel it's high time social conservatives speak out on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "bronies." Teenage to adult males liking a show about pastel ponies would almost certainly make Reagan cry a cartoonishly huge tear.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:04 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


What fucking pisses me off is how the neocon's spit out the words "gay" and "transgendered" like they were intrisinctly evil and ugly. Well fuck you and fuck your hate. If that kid turns out gay or transgendered or whatever - who fucking cares?! Jesus - let's celebrate that he is a happy little guy who gets to express his imagination.
posted by helmutdog at 5:07 PM on April 15, 2011 [31 favorites]


Not only did Roosevelt wear a dress when he was a kid, so did my grandpa. With a big fancy pearl belt. I remember seeing that picture as a kid and thinking it was hilarious. Now I wish it was the norm again and we could all be dressing our kids in easily bleachable, easily re-purposed white dresses.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:07 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


True story: In the neighborhood where we used to live, almost every house had kids, and there were a lot of "garage sales" where stuff just sort of changed hands between houses as kids outgrew things and new kids were born, etc.

So one day, when Boy was about 2, we were taking a walk, and one of the neighbors who had all girls was having a garage sale. In the sale was a kickass kiddie corvette. Hot pink. Big ol Barbie branding. Boy LOVED it. Wanted it. Had to have it. Gave me sad puppy eyes. So I bought it.

Boy is happily playing with car when another neighbor walks up and says, "You gonna paint that?" I said no. "You're gonna make that boy gay." Me: "Er? Not so much. And if he happens to be gay when he grows up...I'm ok with that." Her: "None of my kids better try and be gay, I'd throw them out of the house." Me: "Wow. Ok, then. Wouldja look at the time..."

You could visibly see her cringe when she saw Boy and Corvette out front. I was kinda sad when he outgrew it and we passed it on to the next kid in line.

Point is...Gay and Fat...the two socially allowable discriminations. What this boils down to is the Right Wing saying 1.) It's BAD to be gay. 2.) This woman is trying to make her son gay. 3.) This woman hates America, and the proof is in the pink little piggies.

They are insane, and you cannot argue with insane. You can only make fun of it.
posted by dejah420 at 5:08 PM on April 15, 2011 [26 favorites]


No one is paying attention to the real point here, which is that this is the first instance we've ever heard of people actually reading company email newsletters.
posted by NoraReed at 5:09 PM on April 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


It's to match the lesbians pink guns.
posted by telstar at 5:11 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel kind of sorry for Ablow. What a fearful, mean, little man.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:11 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I feel it's high time social conservatives speak out on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "bronies." Teenage to adult males liking a show about pastel ponies would almost certainly make Reagan cry a cartoonishly huge tear.

They've been trying, but everyone the Media Research Center throws at the show to do research ends up like this.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:12 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is acceptable to not care one bit if a kid likes his toenails painted pink, yet think this is weird thing to put in a catalog?

PS What a cute girl! boy?
posted by Jehan at 5:15 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Keith Ablow cannot be real. He did an interview on national news saying that pink toes destroy gender distinctions... while wearing a pink tie.
posted by Hargrimm at 5:16 PM on April 15, 2011 [24 favorites]


Also, there are like a billion dog whistles in the Dr. Keith article. I like the part where he claims a loss of arbitrary gender roles means that hospitals will be clogged by people who aren't happy with their gender and seek gender reassignment surgury. Taking the old "NOBAMACARE" arguments out for a spin, eh? Clearly, hospitals will prioritize gender reassignments, a procedure usually done by smaller clinics, over lifesaving medical procedures.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:21 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it just me or are "social conservatives" about the most insecure, easily frightened, and self-destructingly hysterical demographic group?

It seems like the only way you could think that gender identity is so fragile that being in contact with the color pink will make a boy girlie is if your own gender identity is that fragile.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:24 PM on April 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


Well, come on. Who should really decide what color the kid's toes should be? A rich liberal? Or a doctor?
posted by whir at 5:27 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm a United Methodist pastor and I let my little girl paint all ten of my toes pink and green with glitter, because I'm that kind of dad. Take that, Fox news.

Of course, I'm not a social conservative, but still.
posted by 4ster at 5:28 PM on April 15, 2011 [22 favorites]


So apparently Ablow's also the guy that claims that teachers are lazy based on his mom (who was a teacher), taking him shopping at 3 o'clock when Real Americans are working. Holy fucking shit. How much toxic bullshit can one person spew?
posted by gamera at 5:31 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh man, Lyons is totally trolling the fundies. Thumbs up.
posted by dry white toast at 5:32 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also...fact: I'm a boy who wore a pink nightgown to bed for a significant portion of my childhood. Anyone want to ask my wife what she thinks of my gender identity?
posted by dry white toast at 5:34 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a few months old, but I suppose now is as good a time as any to post this:

My son is gay
posted by triggerfinger at 5:36 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


What does it do to an average boy to grow up being told over and over that girl stuff is yucky and girl stuff is wrong for boys and "don't be such a girl" and "what are you, a girl?"

My kid is in preschool; he told me yesterday "boy stuff is cool. Not girl stuff."

I said, "That's not fair. Girls like to be cool too!"

He said, "But girls can be pretty!"

So I asked him "What if I said only girls could eat donuts (he loves donuts) but not boys, because donuts were only for girls? Wouldn't that be unfair?"

"Yeah."

"Well, then it's not fair to tell girls they can't be cool."

(thoughtful silence)

Did I reach him? I hope so. I know I can't protect him from the bullshit programming, and that we're going to have to have some version of this conversation many many times. Because it's everywhere.
posted by emjaybee at 5:41 PM on April 15, 2011 [28 favorites]


triggerfinger, previously.
posted by liketitanic at 5:41 PM on April 15, 2011


I remember last summer my toes were painted by some very attractive women (they did my eyes too, but it came off) but it was in the context of doing what I'm pretty sure social conservatives would describe as "manly business" after I "manned-up" to fulfill a common masculine trope/role. Well, whatever nail polish they used was industrial-grade and designed to coat battleships and my toes were black and red the rest of the summer. People's reactions were very interesting, "you let someone do that to you?... aren't you worried about what people will think?... and from the kids I worked with, "ewwwwww." It's as if painted toenails can only mean one thing and there's only one context it can happen in. I get the distinct impression that it caused some people some real cognitive dissonance.

Sometimes it boggles the mind how much importance is put on something that is so insignificant.

Also: when are kilts going to come into fashion as professional office-wear?
posted by fuq at 5:49 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Result: social conservatives go nuts.

And then Metafilter does too. It's a perpetual emotion machine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:59 PM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Shit, pink was my favorite color when I was four up until I was ten, when I decided I found orange to be a more a visually pleasing color. I watched cartoons that were intended for female audiences and occasionally played with my sister's Barbie dolls. I didn't turn out to be some gender-confused sexual deviant or anything. People look way too fucking deeply into the most trivial of things. Why give a shit what other people do? Perhaps they should learn to mind their own fucking business.
posted by Redfield at 6:11 PM on April 15, 2011


Now I want to paint my nails pink. Just have to decide which of my wife's shades of pink to use. All of them maybe?
posted by eyeballkid at 6:11 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm reminded of the heartwarming (not sarcasm!) Moth piece, Oliver's Pink Bicycle (go to end of page, second from bottom).

Meanwhile, I remember a lot of black nail polish on boys when I was in high school. They weren't really the J. Crew crowd.
posted by maryr at 6:14 PM on April 15, 2011


I too am a bit disturbed. I see these so called conservatives, with their little hen party, when they should be out crushing their enemies, watching as they are driven before them, and listening to the lamentations of their women.

WWCT?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:21 PM on April 15, 2011


Keith Ablow!? He's the guy who is standing creepily in the background of this hilarious book cover!

I think it's wonderful that those two men are raising their own child.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:22 PM on April 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


Pink toenails ? Who cares.

The freaking hipster glasses on the kid ?

SHOOT THEM BOTH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
posted by k5.user at 6:25 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I shouldn't mention the Halloween I answered the door at my Mom's house in her Carmen Miranda costume (frilly skirt, chunky sandals, unshaven legs and all) at the age of 16, or being part of The Supremes in an air band contest (a year later). BTW, we rocked "Stop In The Name of Love." And then there was the finger nail polish and eye liner in my New Romantic days in the 80's.

Oh, well.
posted by Samizdata at 6:26 PM on April 15, 2011


Now I want to paint my nails pink. Just have to decide which of my wife's shades of pink to use. All of them maybe?
posted by eyeballkid


I'm kind of tired, so I initially read this as "Now I want to paint my eyeballs pink", which I have to admit would be pretty cool.
posted by jonmc at 6:26 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought this was a joke when I first heard about it. Poe's Law in action.
posted by brundlefly at 6:32 PM on April 15, 2011


Every little kid I've ever known, including my own son and daughter, loved to have their nails painted when the opportunity presented itself (usually prompted by observing mom, or aunt, or babysitter, or neighbor painting their own nails).

Kids with painted nails have nothing to do with "OMG GENDER CONFUSION!" and everything to do with "OMG BRIGHT COLORS ON MY NAILS = FUN!"
posted by amyms at 6:33 PM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


There may be a huge marketing opportunity here. Axe Nail Defense System now in ADRENALINE BLUE.

Make a commercial with a bunch of women mobbing some average looking dude, bathe in money.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:38 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


dejah - that's pretty intense. I'd've been hard pressed not to say "seriously? You're a monstrously fucked up piece of work, then. No child deserves the punishment of having you as a parent."

But I'm in a particularly tooth-grindingly mood today due to an earlier encounter. Really must learn to keep a better grip on my equilibrium.

The Jon Stewart take on this was hilarious. The bit with Liddel got a belly laugh from me.

Anyway, props to Jenna. She seems like a neat mom, from this teensy little squib.
posted by kavasa at 6:41 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always find myself totally bewildered by the argument 'but he grew up in a manly man household with normal gender roles' as an argument why the child should be a manly man too. Can't they see that telling a child that everything they love and want is the other gender's 'thing' is much more likely to make them think that they are wrong for liking it? As if gender is tied to what you like and want?
posted by geek anachronism at 6:56 PM on April 15, 2011


Heh. I don't care much about having a psuedonymous metafilter account/persona look superior to... super cool lone wolf individual not sheeple me.
posted by y2karl at 6:58 PM on April 15, 2011


When I saw this, all I could think about was how gender-obsessionists such as these made a point of hurting me as a child.

Yes, I was born, physiologically a boy. But a beautiful boy, one my elders would routinely mistake for a girl. (Holding doors open, I would routinely hear the compliment, "What a polite little girl. Everytime it gave me a tiny thrill of secret delight.)

Inevitably boorish figures—my step-father, neighbors, teachers—came forth to my "defense", until I got old enough to "correct".

Watching butterflies instead of baseballs, I got "girl" and "pansy" from my step-dad in front of everyone. The idea was not apparently but certainly to mortify me by anguish into masculinity. However all it did was hurt my feelings and concrete a despise of team sports that took decades to overcome.

These people who go after loving parents and loving children are all victims of long-term abuse that they themselves suffered from and that they now conciously or unconsciously choose to perpetuate.

But good news! I made it through the gauntlet and at 46 I just yesterday got to explain to an 11-year old boy that he is beautiful. When he gave me that I-can't-be-beautiful-I'm-a-boy look, I explained compassionately but firmly: "You. Are. Beautiful. No one told me when I was 11 and you should know. It starts in the inside and works its way out. You remember that and never let anyone tell you otherwise." And then he smiled.

So, thhppppppppppppppppt!
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:33 PM on April 15, 2011 [45 favorites]


There's this guy in my karate class- 6'4", about 220 pounds. Roofer by trade. Silver hair, scraggly beard, tar in the cracks on his hands. Picks people up like they're nothing, has a graduate degree in (I think) some sort of biology. Real nice guy, and a serious badass.

He paints his toenails pink.

I'd like to see those Fox News culture warriors look him in the eye and tell him that he represents a dire threat to this nation's (oh so imperiled) masculinity.

For one, they'd need a step-stool.
posted by fifthrider at 8:22 PM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Also: when are kilts going to come into fashion as professional office-wear?

This is probably the only thing that would get me back into an office job, BTW.
posted by theredpen at 8:55 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Ablow article reminds me of all the creepy articles about Brangelina are turning their daughter Shiloh into a little boy because she has short hair and doesn't wear a dress. Gender (and particularly masculinity) must be weak conceptually because it seems to need an awful lot of defending according to some people.
posted by immlass at 8:59 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ask yourself a question with a very obvious answer: do you think that photo is real?

People are arguing over it like it's hidden camera footage of this woman's house. Do you think this scene wasn't staged? Do you think it's actually Saturday? How many takes did it require?

There are three products there, but you can only acquire two. There's the shirt. Then there's the nail polish, which is why it is featured.

But the real product, unattainable, of the ad is the woman: don't you want to be as natural, as comfortable, as happy as her? Sure you do.

What's going on in the ad? Now it's 11:30 (Beckett sleeps in on the weekends, of course) and the art project is done and the coffee (french press) is so good it doesn't need milk or sugar. Giggle. Lighthearted fun ensues, and the boy gets his toenails painted. Now, obviously, he's a boy and he's not the kind of boy to get his nails painted pink, it was all in spontaneous fun. But it's not like anyone's watching, it's in a safe environment, where you can do whatever you want and no one makes assumptions. Dad's not there.

&c. Meanwhile, some woman at some Fox News derivative says this is a terrible ad, which of course J Crew knew was going to happen, it's part of the branding. The judgmental woman sounds ugly and old. Jenna seems youthful and beautiful. J Crew asks, who do you want to be like?
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 9:06 PM on April 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


This just reminds me a lot of myself as a little kid, and makes me so thankful for my family. I even talked about my own similar experience in front of a camera for "I'm From Driftwood" - a site that collects personal stories from queer folks from all over.
posted by jph at 9:08 PM on April 15, 2011


About a year ago, I was dating a guy with the most amazing green eyes. I told him that they were pretty. He was offended and said they might be handsome but not pretty. I said that I thought they were beautiful and that made things even worse. He broke up with me a few days later. He had really pretty eyes for an asshole.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:29 PM on April 15, 2011 [44 favorites]


I wish I had a mom like Jenna. Her son seems happy and healthy. What more do you want?
posted by SPrintF at 9:44 PM on April 15, 2011


[Let us not call for the murder or suicide of anyone, please. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:58 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity."

They seem to think this is some dark secret agenda progressives are hiding. It's always openly been my goal!
posted by emmtee at 10:58 PM on April 15, 2011


When I hear some conservative commentator warble stuff like, "Boys raised like this will grow up to be psychologically disturbed!" I always hear a little echo of, "And if they don't, me and mine will make it happen!"

Calculated marketing stunt or not, this is one of those key moments for someone out there. Every time something like this happens, someone feels a little better about themselves or their kid.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:07 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Gender roles are funny. I like cartoons.

I have 4 older sisters, so when I was a kid at least a few of them liked Jem, so I would watch a lot of Jem. I actually enjoyed it, unlike most other shows of the era, it actually had a storyline (of sorts). I didn't like it as much as Transformers, say, but When the USA Network Cartoon Express was on, I generally watched everything. It's kind of one of those things where I never really thought I watched much more TV than most people growing up until I start talking about TV shows with people, like "I thought everyone watched Drexel's Class"

But I digress, like other kids would be like "You watch JEM!? That's a GIRLS show" etc. and I'm like "whatever, I like cartoons. Have fun watching LESS cartoons, dweebs."

Showtime, Synergy!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:45 PM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am always thankful that I never felt that sort of pressure as a kid (to an extent)

I was always a cook, a writer, a poet, a scientist and my widowed mom always taught me to be what I wanted to be. (Ok, so she discouraged me from playing football or being in JROTC, but that was more out of a fear of me blowing up a lung than anything else and she seemed perturbed by my willingness to experiment with Molotov cocktails.)

Here's the mantra I wish all parents could give their kids. I want you to be you with two rules in mind. You must be kind. You must not be lazy. If you want to be a girl butcher, then go forth and make better chops than anyone. If you want to be a scientist slaving away at some small nugget of information that may add to the overall picture, then go. If you want to be an artist, then work until the brush or your fingers are nubs. If you want nothing more than to be a homemaker, then do it with all the grace you can.

I guess it all boils down to: "if, then do until you find happiness"

It's sad that there are people who can't let others be happy. Happiness is so damn hard to find and the sheer weight of universal calamity seems destined to remove it too quickly, that to not seize it at the available moment is a crime.

Pink, Blue, we all end up dust with only the effect we have on our followers as our legacy.
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:30 AM on April 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Who is the confused child here?
posted by Legomancer at 5:19 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't look now. I stumbled across this old photo. It would suggest that Ronald Reagan was a communist supporter.
posted by Fizz at 5:50 AM on April 16, 2011


well, at least all this manufactured controversy will help J.Crew sell their boring-ass clothes.

Asserting Gender Roles: Not Cool
Asserting Your "Keeping It Real" Role: Mandatory
posted by yerfatma at 7:17 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


yerfatma: come on. you really don't think this isn't all manufactured to get J. Crew some publicity? Just like whenever A&F foments some tempest in a t-shirt. And like A&F their clothes are really just bland and unexciting, so they have to grab the public some other way.
posted by jonmc at 8:20 AM on April 16, 2011


Ronald Reagan at age two
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:44 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


drew, did you just point out that all we are is dust in the wind?
posted by maryr at 9:23 AM on April 16, 2011


I think i did.. damn. :)
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:43 AM on April 16, 2011


furiousxgeorge : There may be a huge marketing opportunity here.

There is- for Homocil.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2011


Challahtronix, wow, that is uncomfortable to watch, even as a straight young man who's never been challenged on his masculinity by his parents. And I've done plenty to encourage such a reaction. I cook, I knit, I preserve foods like Granny did, and so on. (Of course, the preservation and cooking lead to homebrewing, which is basically cooking and preservation with a big case of the notgays.) I feel so bad for kids whose parents feel like they have to shove them in a gender box.

Here's something else painful to watch.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2011


Also from J. Crew: The "Borrowed From My Brother" collection for girls.
posted by iviken at 11:08 AM on April 16, 2011


I'm a man who wore full drag for Halloween at the age of eleven. A GAY man. If only someone had stopped me. I don't crossdress at all and never did other than that, but if I had the cash I would own a massive collection of designer womens handbags. Oh, you don't know.

(full disclosure: I used colored markers to do my toes once but Mom was downstairs drinking gin and tonics and watching Merv Griffin.)
posted by longsleeves at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Conservatives must have a sort of willful blindness to create this syllogism:

1. Born This Way shows kids violating gender roles.
2. These kids grew up queer.
3. Gender roles must be the only thing keeping kids from teh gay
posted by Monochrome at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2011


At one point, my only reference point for Keith Ablow was as an author of mediocre novels which were sort of ok if you were stuck at the airport. Then I read this op-ed, and began to regard him with faint distaste.
Now, I find that he thinks the world will end if little boys paint their toenails. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by maryrussell at 1:27 PM on April 16, 2011


What's really depressing is that there's a profitable market for that asshole. In other words, there are enough people who want to think like him that he can finance a lavish lifestyle on taking their money in return for ... validating? their retrograde and largely uninformed opinions. Sorry, personal opinion creeping in there.

I'm quite alarmed at how many people do not appear to want the same culture and society as I want. I can't understand how they can desire an inequitable, unjust, rights-limited society. Makes no sense to me.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:53 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The issue is, perhaps, that none of our members [perhaps due to the continuous blue back-ground infusing eahc metafilter member with PURE-Testosterone-injections by proxy of asserted color idealization and influence-impact of non-connected events/phenomena/topics?] is sufficiently fluent in the difficult to decipher hyper-invented-reality of fox news contributions. I used googNews-Trans, the new awesome automatic translating service from google, it translates some of the Parallel Reality speak, into something more generally understandable to people around the world. With the original suggestion, and implied inflected invective message intended in the URL choice hopefully kept intact (are there awards for most ignorant moral outrage on air?)
"In our technology-driven world—fueled by Facebook, split-second Prozac prescriptions and lots of other assaults on genuine emotion and genuine relationships and actual consequences for behavior—almost nothing is now honored as real and true."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/04/11/j-crew-plants-seeds-gender-identity/#ixzz1Jl2lmD9R

=
BUZZWORD CATCHPHRASE FOUR SQUARE MORAL PANICTACTOE!! (With a hidden obsession with Sartre buried in an ironic question amidst his flurry of 'facts about the end of humanity'; [yes, Dr.Keith is a secret Lefty-Sartre-ist]I can prove it)posted by infinite intimation at 11:26 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


maryrussell: "At one point, my only reference point for Keith Ablow was as an author of mediocre novels which were sort of ok if you were stuck at the airport. Then I read this op-ed, and began to regard him with faint distaste.
Now, I find that he thinks the world will end if little boys paint their toenails. Christ, what an asshole
"

Holy camoley, that is an op-ed for the ages. I had never heard of Ablow until this last week when I was introduced to him by Jon Stewart and the gang. Based on that introduction, my opinion of him was already established by the time I got to this point in the thread, but having just attended (four weeks ago this morning) the second birth of a child from my wife's body, I now find him to be even more full of shit than before. Remarkable.

Now pardon me while I go snuggle up to my beautiful wife in bed.
posted by yiftach at 12:04 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


but how much progress have we made when men/boys still cannot have anything to do with "feminine" things? flex

This is a result of what we call (in sociology and anthropology) status contamination. In short, it's sometimes ok for girls and women to adopt higher status markers (masculinity - haircuts, clothes, activities though God help you if you're female and have a male attitude or motive), but it is definitively not ok for boys or men to take on identifications of lower status (nail polish, haircuts, dress, profession).

Men who join "feminine" professions, oddly, generally make up a disproportionately large portion of the higher ranks (school principals, heads of nursing departments).

I'm late for work, otherwise I'd add some links on the concept, but nothing is coming up in wikipedia. I'm pretty sure it comes from the work of Irving Goffman, but not 100% certain.
posted by bilabial at 8:34 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


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