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Dad in a dirndl
August 30, 2012 11:48 AM   Subscribe

German dad dons skirt to support his cross-dressing five-year-old son.

When Nils Pickert moved his family from open-minded West Berlin to a more conservative small southern German town, locals rolled their eyes at his dress-wearing son. His 5-year-old boy became too embarrassed to put on his favorite frocks.

Pickert decided to teach his son a lesson in self-confidence and started wearing skirts around town himself.

“I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts,” Pickert told the German feminist magazine EMMA. “He didn’t make friends in doing that in Berlin already and after a lot of contemplation I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.”
posted by Lexica (86 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome
posted by DU at 11:52 AM on August 30, 2012


To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy

Is this phrase a thing or just a quirk of translation? I've never heard things put that way before. If it's not a thing, I nominate it for thingness and hereby grant it my stamp of approval.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:52 AM on August 30, 2012 [34 favorites]


Good on German Dad.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Besides, them soft cotton dresses feel kinda nice. There's a whole… airflow.

Go, dad!
posted by tilde at 11:54 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why aren't they wearing shoes?
posted by resurrexit at 11:57 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this phrase a thing or just a quirk of translation? I've never heard things put that way before.

It's a direct translation from the German original. I don't know if it's a common German idiom or not.
posted by hoyland at 11:57 AM on August 30, 2012


Is this phrase a thing or just a quirk of translation? I've never heard things put that way before.

I read that as the US equivalent of sticking one's chest out, like Superman. But I like this phrase better because it kinda corresponds with broadening horizons and such. Nice!
posted by CancerMan at 11:59 AM on August 30, 2012


Die Schultern für meinen kleinen Kerl breit zu machen

"Kleinen Kerl" means "little buddy". The word "Kerl" is slang for friend, like "mate", "brother", "chum", etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:02 PM on August 30, 2012


"Kleinen Kerl" means "little buddy". The word "Kerl" is slang for friend, like "mate", "brother", "chum", etc.

Yeah, but the question is really about whether "die Schultern breit machen" is an idiom. (Which, if you stick in google gets you a lot of bodybuilding sites, which isn't helpful.)
posted by hoyland at 12:04 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why aren't they wearing shoes?

Because cobblestone is so expensive? I kid not.
posted by stbalbach at 12:04 PM on August 30, 2012


Who cares about the skirt? Can we please talk about the more important matters here, like his terrible color pairing? Yikes!
posted by phunniemee at 12:07 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Who cares about the skirt? Can we please talk about the more important matters here, like his terrible color pairing? Yikes!

He's colorblocking. He's actually very on trend. Well done, German Dad!
posted by padraigin at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2012 [26 favorites]


Flawless and adorable. So cool.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2012


Gut Elternschaft, Vater.
posted by grubi at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like wearing a skirt: the swishing is fun and I have nice calves. However, it isn't in any way transgressive because I'm Scottish, so it's magically Completely Not Gay because the skirt is called a Kilt and fastens the other way. Whatever.

So I'm not helping anyone. Oh, except the minor cause of Scots Who Have English Accents, that oppressed minority (at Scottish schools anyway...)

I worked in a call centre, that modern Satanic Mill. One of my colleagues - an ex-Royal Marine, no less - was incensed (in a laid-back, surfer-dude way) that women could wear trousers OR skirt, but men could only wear trousers. So he started turning up in a pretty sarong. At the time I said he was wrong, that the nature of the patriarchy meant that his concerns were invalid, and that the real sexism in the workplace was about pay, and childcare, and affected women: he was not himself adversely affected by the sexist dress code.

I now think I was wrong: sure, his was a minor and silly argument, given he was a white straight guy, but it wasn't a WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?!?!? argument - he was too good a person for that - and he was fundamentally on the side of Right. Maybe he didn't help women any, but maybe it was easier for a cross-dressing man to come in to work at that office in his preferred clothing after that.
posted by alasdair at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2012 [25 favorites]


No kid of mine is going to wear no dresses!

Well, unless I somehow manage to have kids and one wants to. I'd be a total pushover parent. "Hey, your kid is wearing a dress!" His life. "You do know that parachute made out of a sheet won't work, right?" Her life. "Hey, your kid is eating fried butter on a stick." This is Iowa.

Good on you, dad!
posted by cjorgensen at 12:14 PM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I now think I was wrong: sure, his was a minor and silly argument, given he was a white straight guy, but it wasn't a WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?!?!? argument - he was too good a person for that - and he was fundamentally on the side of Right. Maybe he didn't help women any, but maybe it was easier for a cross-dressing man to come in to work at that office in his preferred clothing after that.

Actually anything that questions harsh and biased gender rules helps women and men, so go Sarong Dude.

And German Dad. That's an awesome dad right there.
posted by emjaybee at 12:18 PM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


That's lovely.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:19 PM on August 30, 2012


"to square my shoulders" rather. Not difficult. To understand.
posted by Namlit at 12:19 PM on August 30, 2012


The older I get and the more time I spend in the American South, I think wearing skirts should be the default for anyone in a hot and humid environment. Seriously, it's starting to seem utterly ridiculous not have that the norm.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:20 PM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


words cannot express how awesome that is.
posted by facetious at 12:21 PM on August 30, 2012


perhaps that's why they are barefooted: it's hot and humid..
posted by Namlit at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2012


I wear big, flowy sports shorts (like basketball players wear). It's essentially a skirt. Same basic effect, flow-wise.
posted by grubi at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2012


I wear big, flowy sports shorts (like basketball players wear). It's essentially a skirt. Same basic effect, flow-wise.

HBS

(intro starts a little slow, song awesomeness kicks in about 1:40)
posted by stifford at 12:27 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


padraigin: "Who cares about the skirt? Can we please talk about the more important matters here, like his terrible color pairing? Yikes!

He's colorblocking. He's actually very on trend. Well done, German Dad!
"

So one time in college, this cool senior woman I never quite felt cool enough to know, let alone sit with, who was typically one of nicest person you ever wanted to know but was having a very bad day walked into the cafeteria wearing some outfit with red and green in it, and some goony guy said something to her about looking like a Christmas tree. She turned and glared and said, "Red and green are opposites on the color wheel. Complementary color theory, mother fucker!" and went to get her food.

Perhaps needless to say, "Complementary color theory, mother fucker" eventually became a retort that was said so often that it lost all meaning.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:28 PM on August 30, 2012 [86 favorites]


MetaFilter: Complementary color theory, mother fucker
posted by Madamina at 12:31 PM on August 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


The little guy hasn’t only learned to laugh at his critics. He’s also learned to speak up to them. When kids taunt and tease him, he says, ““You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either.”

There's something liberating about middle age. I have a pink iPhone case because it's easy to find. I have a My Little Pony (Cheerilee!) hanging from my car's mirror because it makes it easier to distinguish in a parking lot full of blue Toyotas. I would have zero problems with wearing a skirt in solidarity with my crossdressing son.

And now I totally get the old guys with their high waisted pants. Because Fuck You is why.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:33 PM on August 30, 2012 [82 favorites]


Wow, how lucky that little dude is to have such an understanding, brave and supportive father. I love how 'happy' the boy's body language appears in the photo. Dad appears relaxed and maybe it was for the benefit of the photographer (although I kind of doubt it) but that picture is clearly a 5 year old 'in his element'. Awesome.

Also, the kid telling other kids who tease him, "You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either." is wonderful.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:33 PM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


This makes my eyes sting. Father of the Frickin' Year.
posted by Palquito at 12:34 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]




I'll be so happy when these stories, no matter how heartwarming, are completely unnecessary.

So go dad and go little dude, because life is too short to live it any way other than how you want to live.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:35 PM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


0. Be the father of a boy who wears a skirt.
1. Move to a small conservative town.
2. Wear a skirt.
3. Wait for the journalists.
4. …
5. PROFIT!
posted by floatboth at 12:40 PM on August 30, 2012


I guess they are carrying their pumps because of the cobble stones.

Can never beat a story where a parent stands up for his kid's self expression!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:41 PM on August 30, 2012


It's actually spelled PROSIT and means "cheers". Or am I miffing somefing?
posted by Namlit at 12:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy

Suddenly, I'm reminded of the pilot Gilligan's Island episode when, following the shipwreck, Gilligan dries out Ginger's gown by wearing it for her.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:43 PM on August 30, 2012


Whoa floatboth - a little jaded there are we?

Loved this story for so many reasons.
posted by cdalight at 12:44 PM on August 30, 2012


also: awesome story, as others said.
posted by Namlit at 12:48 PM on August 30, 2012


Awesome. Yay for Mr. Pickert!
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on August 30, 2012


Bring in the love, push out the jive!
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My three-year-old sons favourite shirt right now is bubblegum pink with a leopard kitten on the front and a bell and bow sewn on to it's collar. We were at the grocery store last night and the checker gave me such a look when I called him 'Buddy'.

It's like people have never seen kids being kids before.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:14 PM on August 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


floatboth: "0. Be the father of a boy who wears a skirt.
1. Move to a small conservative town.
2. Wear a skirt.
3. Wait for the journalists.
4. …
5. PROFIT!
"

1. shut up.
2. get out.


Oh, ok, not really. Maybe dot a fewer slashes though, ok, buddy?
posted by boo_radley at 1:22 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


What this guy is doing here is great, and seriously rah rah for that, but if I'm reading the article right he knew his son liked to wear dresses before he moved to a conservative small town. I don't know his circumstances, and I know there may be Reasons, but I can't help thinking this was a grave disservice to his son.
posted by darksasami at 1:25 PM on August 30, 2012


guys can wear necklaces and feathers and skirts and still look like they can rough you up

He's rugby player Leonard Peters, in case you want to do more, uh, research.
posted by desjardins at 1:29 PM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


And now I totally get the old guys with their high waisted pants. Because Fuck You is why.

Yes! Reminds me of this great comment.
posted by lalex at 1:36 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafiler: Because Fuck You is why.
posted by Malice at 1:46 PM on August 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


The older I get and the more time I spend in the American South, I think wearing skirts should be the default for anyone in a hot and humid environment. Seriously, it's starting to seem utterly ridiculous not have that the norm.

I'm in Ohio and I do not wear anything but short-ish skirts in summer, full-stop. Because fuck that noise. People walking around in jeans? People walking around with their hair down? What is wrong with you? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


but if I'm reading the article right he knew his son liked to wear dresses before he moved to a conservative small town. I don't know his circumstances, and I know there may be Reasons, but I can't help thinking this was a grave disservice to his son.

Maybe Germany is an epicenter of gender non-conformity, but my experience is that even in open-minded big cities, school-age children are taught to dress conformatively, sometimes by school administrators but usually by peers. It seems likely that in any place, if a non-conforming kid is allowed to just 'be' while integrating into the community, his/her non-conformity becomes more accepted. I wonder if this story is more 'non-conforming kid moves to any new social group' vs. 'small town and those typical close-minded bigots.'
posted by muddgirl at 1:59 PM on August 30, 2012


0. Be the father of a boy who wears a skirt.
1. Move to a small conservative town.
2. Wear a skirt.
3. Wait for the journalists.
4. …
5. PROFIT!
posted by floatboth


I'd have liked to comment "whatever floath our boat," but what you so wittily suggest here is not even likely. A column and a pic is unlikely to generate any profit, not even in any noticeable way for the ladies and gentlemen at Emma.
posted by Namlit at 2:07 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh but there is a vast difference between the myriads of facets of a large-town culture of a city with a history like Berlin, and the way moral and local self-righteousness is brought in practice in some or other Bavarian Marktflecken!
"Germany is" is never true and if it's only because of the difference between mainly lutheran in the north versus mainly catholic in the south.
posted by Namlit at 2:12 PM on August 30, 2012


"Germany is" is never true

Exactly, which is why I have a hard time ascribing this story to be purely "liberal big town vs. conservative small town." If this family had moved from Berlin to Munich, would the son feel automatically comfortable in his new surroundings? Or would there be a similar adjustment period?
posted by muddgirl at 2:18 PM on August 30, 2012


At the time I said he was wrong, that the nature of the patriarchy meant that his concerns were invalid, and that the real sexism in the workplace was about pay, and childcare, and affected women: he was not himself adversely affected by the sexist dress code.

But he was quite right. We'll never achieve gender equality until men can happily dress up and express themselves like this. I'd like to think that if cross-dressing were universally acceptable, and men could easily slip into something more comfortable (so to speak) what we now consider to be 'feminine' identity might cease to be a signifier of second-class citizenship, and could become just another aspect of human culture.

More power to cross dressing kiddies and German Dads in skirts. They should all get medals.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 2:26 PM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Or would there be a similar adjustment period?

I'm not even sure - who knows these things?

[a carefully half un-closeted trans friend of mine has not, and will not likely ever come out to his elderly parents. He's from a north German city. It's a generation thing, too. And very sad]
posted by Namlit at 2:31 PM on August 30, 2012


I'm not even sure - who knows these things?

Yeah, I agree, which is why I objected to the comment which implied that the dad should feel guilty for moving his son to a small, conservative town.
posted by muddgirl at 2:32 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some apropos street sign modification.
posted by hoyland at 2:57 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was in the lift yesterday, when a mom popped in with her months-old baby on the pram (I know she was months-old because the mom talked about her age to her friend). The baby, who was lying down on the pram ,spread her legs a bit, and the mom swoops down on her and exclaims, You're a GIRL, sweetie! You shouldn't kick your legs like that!

When I have kids, I'd like to be like this guy here, not that parent yesterday.
posted by the cydonian at 3:13 PM on August 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm curious as to where the child gets his size-appropriate skirts and dresses. It's not mentioned in the article that he has an older sister. The father does mention in a Daily Mail article that he used to wear skirts "during mild weather anyway." So I'm just wondering if Dad is subtly encouraging his son to wear dresses by purchasing them for him so that he can dress like Dad. I dunno....when I was five years old, I wore whatever Mom set out for me for school, whether I liked it or not.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:25 PM on August 30, 2012


Five year olds are, generally, able and demanding to choose what they want to wear. Of course children are influenced by their parents - more than subtly. Why is it important to note that in this case?
posted by muddgirl at 3:29 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems likely that in any place, if a non-conforming kid is allowed to just 'be' while integrating into the community, his/her non-conformity becomes more accepted.

I guess this is true as a big picture thing, but as far as a single isolated case goes, he could easily become a pariah, be abused physically or emotionally, or worse. Whatever this dad does, the community's average position is still going to largely dictate how crazy its craziest outliers will be, and the outliers represent the worst of the threat. The size of the community also dictates the statistical likelihood that the kid will be able to find support among the people he interacts with.

I don't know, maybe I've just lived in the US too long and am used to a more hateful, violent sort of bigot.
posted by darksasami at 3:43 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm curious as to where the child gets his size-appropriate skirts and dresses.

From a shop? It's not like it's hard to find a dress to fit a five year old. Nor is it exactly difficult for a small child who's never worn a dress to guess one could be fun and twirly.
posted by hoyland at 3:43 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess this is true as a big picture thing, but as far as a single isolated case goes, he could easily become a pariah, be abused physically or emotionally, or worse... the community's average position is still going to largely dictate how crazy its craziest outliers will be...The size of the community also dictates the statistical likelihood that the kid will be able to find support among the people he interacts with.

And in my experience, all this can as easily happen in a big town as in a small town. Statistically speaking, the crazy outliers will be even crazier in a big town than in a small town. Also, I will note that the kid is 5 years old. At most, he's interacting with the children in his classroom, and we've seen many examples here in the US of gender-nonconformance being proactively handled even in small-town classrooms.
posted by muddgirl at 3:46 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always thought skirts should be okay for guys. We get to wear pants or whatever the hell we want, guys should get the same liberty of expression. Go real equality!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:47 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Skirts are very very comfortable in hot weather.
posted by availablelight at 3:53 PM on August 30, 2012


All I know is I grew up as a non-cisgendered child in a small town in Arizona and I now live in a much larger city in Oregon, and I know where I wish I'd grown up.

(And oh, what I would've given to trade jeans and a t-shirt for a sundress in an Arizona summer...)
posted by darksasami at 4:01 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I'm just wondering if Dad is subtly encouraging his son to wear dresses by purchasing them for him so that he can dress like Dad. I dunno....when I was five years old, I wore whatever Mom set out for me for school, whether I liked it or not

Parents these days (add all kinds of caveats here--progressive middle-class parents anyway) are much less "wear this whether you like it or not!" and much more "support the child's self-expression." Also some kids are really strong-willed about this kind of thing.

I have a female-bodied five-year-old who is starting "Begindergarten" (a kindergarten-lite program for kids who are old enough for kindergarten but not ready for it in some way) next week. He will be attending as a boy. I wrote something on my blog the other day about his clothing choices and how we're adapting to his new name and pronouns.

People wonder if we have somehow encouraged our child in this. We have definitely encouraged him, but he is a very strong-willed little person and we certainly didn't make him trans. Nor is he trying to be like his two older brothers, which is another "explanation" people favor. If kids could be that easily influenced there would be a lot more boys like our Tiny Tornado.

I love this dad. I have a lot of lgbt friends and have seen it multiple times since the blog post first went up. I think he has made an awesome choice.
posted by not that girl at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm not arguing that (in the US at least) big cities aren't more liberal than small towns. I'm arguing that (in my cisgender but gender-expression-variant experience), proactive parental support goes a huge distance in bridging the gap to community, if not acceptance than tolerance. And parental ambivalence or lack of proactive support hurts no matter the environment.
posted by muddgirl at 4:23 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Adorable. Kudos to this dad.

It's a shame that this is so unusual. For a father to support his son on something as inconsequential as clothes - should be expected and we shouldn't have to stand up and applaud this young father. Which I do unreservedly.
posted by mikehipp at 4:25 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I went to nyu two decades ago (looks away), there were a couple of guys in my dorm who favored skirts. I didn't consider it cross dressing because there was nothing feminine about these guys. They just were as likely to wear skirts as pants or shorts. I was friends with two of them. During a late night conversation, they both confessed while they originally started doing it basically to celebrate being in NYC and dressing however they wanted without the sky falling, they immediately started enjoying it for other reasons, like the feel as well as making it easier to layer thermal underwear and thick socks during the winter while rocking a beautiful long skirt.

I discovered that men in skirts can be damn sexy.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:47 PM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the post. It's very heartwarming and also kind of reassuring for me. There's a pre-teen boy on my street who wears girls clothes while at home and has for years dressed as a princess for Halloween. I've known him since he was a toddler so I was a little taken aback when he started wearing different (girls) clothes. I have no idea how he identifies sexually and I don't care. I wouldn't say that he's cross-dressing or in drag. I don't know, but maybe one day we'll talk about it.

All I know is that last year when he rang my bell on Halloween, I was being very honest when I told him that he was the prettiest princess I'd seen all night. His face lit up like a little beacon of joy.

I hope I live long enough to see when everyone is accepted and included just as they are and were meant to be.
posted by snsranch at 5:51 PM on August 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


And in my experience, all this can as easily happen in a big town as in a small town. Statistically speaking, the crazy outliers will be even crazier in a big town than in a small town.

Yeah, small towns can be either very bad or very good and handling their eccentrics.

Dad 'squaring his shoulders' here is likely helping a hell of a lot. Word gets around that "they're the family where everyone wears skirts." Oh well, what can you do?

In a larger community, they'll be more frequently exposed to people who have no idea who they are, or what their reputation is.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:30 PM on August 30, 2012


I now think I was wrong: sure, his was a minor and silly argument, given he was a white straight guy, but it wasn't a WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?!?!? argument - he was too good a person for that - and he was fundamentally on the side of Right. Maybe he didn't help women any, but maybe it was easier for a cross-dressing man to come in to work at that office in his preferred clothing after that.

I would even venture that male cross-dressing could be a little helpful to women. There's a sort of cultural script that goes something like, women in male dress are tough and edgy and self-actualized, but men in female dress are buffoons and/or pervs. And I think part of this has to do with general, entrenched misogyny, the idea that to be a woman is weak and frivolous and ridiculous, and that to be a man is strong and admirable, so why would you ever want to look like a giiiiirl? Anyway, good for your friend and for this dad and his kid for saying "fuck that noise."
posted by en forme de poire at 6:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I think part of this has to do with general, entrenched misogyny, the idea that to be a woman is weak and frivolous and ridiculous, and that to be a man is strong and admirable, so why would you ever want to look like a giiiiirl?

Me and a bunch of my housemates, back in the day, decided that we should crossdress and go out on the town (We were bored.) The thing I took away from that was that being girly was a royal pain. Seriously, we took more time getting ready than being out (heh) and about.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:54 PM on August 30, 2012


I live in the South Pacific. Men here wear skirts as often as they do trousers. They're called lavalava in Vanuatu, sulu in Fiji, and sarong in Samoa. It's quite sensible given the climate and hardly unmasculine. It's isn't even worthy of comment.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:36 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I'm curious as to where the child gets his size-appropriate skirts and dresses.

In case you don't know -- and I don't mean to sound condescending but if you don't have kids I suppose you might not remember this -- five-year-old boys and girls have pretty much the same body shape and can wear each other's clothing just fine. They wouldn't have to find special trans-clothes for him.

If it's a more general question about clothes shopping: I let my kids pick out their own clothes, within reason, both for on-line shopping and in stores, and I don't think that's unusual.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:11 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: "Of course children are influenced by their parents - more than subtly."

We're already slowly incubating our little one into the holy fashion religion of indy hoodieism.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:29 PM on August 30, 2012


Yeah, but the question is really about whether "die Schultern breit machen" is an idiom.

My cohort always used it to mean, essentially, "suck it up".
posted by MissySedai at 10:25 PM on August 30, 2012


Rah for dad!!!

...he knew his son liked to wear dresses before he moved to a conservative small town. ...but I can't help thinking this was a grave disservice to his son.

He's teaching his son that you can stand up in the face of conservatives and ignore their prejudice. That's a good thing for any kid to know. Between the two of them, they're doing their part to change the world, little by little. Maybe one more kid (or adult) in that town will decide to dress the way they want. Things can change, one slow step at a time.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry to continue the slight derail from earlier, but after being remoinded enough to tell the story here, I mentioned the tale to my college friends, who reminded me I'd botched the punchline:

The woman who was wearing the Christmas colors actually said: "Complementary color theory, Feliz Navidad up your ass, mother fucker!" which, is why the story was funnier at the time (and much repeated) than the one I told earlier.

Again apologies, I realize this was already bordering on 'cool story bro' territory, but Holly deserved better. (Yes, the Christmas color wearing woman was named Holly - a fact I'd never quite put together.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:11 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


In case you don't know -- and I don't mean to sound condescending but if you don't have kids I suppose you might not remember this -- five-year-old boys and girls have pretty much the same body shape and can wear each other's clothing just fine. They wouldn't have to find special trans-clothes for him.

What I meant was, if this boy is an only child, how did he happen to have a toddler-sized handy dress to try on in the first place when he was younger? I could see if he had an older sister and played dress-up with her discards or something and discovered he liked wearing those types of clothes, but otherwise how did he decide he liked "girls" clothes? After seeing them on TV or in magazines maybe?
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:52 AM on August 31, 2012


It's quite sensible given the climate and hardly unmasculine. It's isn't even worthy of comment.

I should have mentioned this in to my previous comment, but this is exactly my viewpoint too. Sarongs, or lungi's/ veshti's etc can be quite formal, masculine and extremely comfortable.
posted by the cydonian at 2:35 AM on August 31, 2012


Hmmm, like the “princess boy”, the dad puts photos of his 5-year old son wearing a dress on internet. “I’m a great dad, yeah, look how accepting I am of my son wearing a dress!” Those photos stay on internet for ever with the kids name linked to it. Years later when the dress/princess phase has long passed, high school jocks might tape this kids but cheeks together in the locker room (à la breakfast club) when this photo starts circulating. The kid might get the “Haha” taunt and yes, it may toughen him up or broaden his shoulders having to defend himself but "You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either" only goes so far when you’re a bigger kid. Dammit dad, why did you post that photo?

My issue is not with the kid’s choice at all - peers will have whatever influence they will have – he’ll work it out. My issue is with the dad, trying to prove he’s a “great dad” by posting this photo to the internet. So I’m sort of inclined to agree with floatboth’s point no. 5. PROFIT! (for the dad). Basically, keep your kid’s life private until they can choose themselves what to post.

BTW, the “what to expect when you’re expecting” books warn mothers that certain poses a toddler makes (they mentioned hands down skirts, I think) can trigger the wrong response in the wrong type of person. I’m sure that’s what prompted the mum in the lift, which the cydonian mentioned, to swoop and stop that “leg kick”.
posted by guy72277 at 2:41 AM on August 31, 2012


Regarding "Die Schultern für meinen kleinen Kerl breit zu machen": I have never heard that idiom before, and I hardly think it exists (yes, I am a native speaker). It also sounds grammatically weird, but well, it is from an interview, people just don't talk perfect sentences in real life.

But I agree with guy72277: Putting this on the Internet forever isn't very thoughtful. Of course, in his defense, he was probably only interviewed for the print version of EMMA, without realizing that it would also end up online, I assume.
posted by SAnderka at 3:03 AM on August 31, 2012


+1 for totally empowering Dad. Mind you; he'll hate his Dad for it in 10 years or so when non-conformity becomes a real issue.

Being Scottish I am very lucky in having a kilt in my wardrobe. Not only because it is super comfortable in hot weather, but also because, during gender identity discussions with my two kids;
"but men dont wear skirts, silly daddy!"
I can say "well..."
Followed my a long silence as preconceptions and attempts to make sense of this crazy world are turned upside down.

I wonder whether Scotland is a more lgbt tolerant place because a skirt is an essential part of a man's wardrobe?
posted by BadMiker at 5:01 AM on August 31, 2012


Those photos stay on internet for ever with the kids name linked to it.

For a start the kid's name isn't in the article. Nor is the town where they live. So let's try googling the dad's name. US Google turns up this story in any number of English-language media outlets, which, let's face it, isn't really the dad's fault. I write something for a German feminist magazine's website, I don't really expect it to be in the Daily Mail. German Google turns up a guy who appears to be a quasi-well-known author and a guy who is definitely somebody else (he's got a public Google+ profile). The story does not appear to have made the broader German media, or at least not with the dad's name. So maybe the dad's the author. But there's no real way of figuring it out. I guess one could check the phone book (and a map), but that would be getting rather more stalkerish than my four seconds with Google.

But on top of all that, the article isn't describing a huge town. There's a reasonable chance the a good number of the kids at the day care will go to school with this kid and they already know. Yeah, maybe they move in the next ten years. But, honestly, if some bully at school is googling the dad, they're probably already going to go after the kid.
posted by hoyland at 7:32 AM on August 31, 2012


I wonder whether Scotland is a more lgbt tolerant place because a skirt is an essential part of a man's wardrobe?

Well, if it's an indication of anything, Scotland didn't decriminalise homosexuality until 1981. Decriminalisation in England and Wales was in 1967. Northern Ireland took until 1982, after a trip to the European Court of Human Rights. I can't tell if this is because they actively didn't want decriminalisation or because they sort of never got round to it. On the other hand, Scotland dumped Section 28 first.
posted by hoyland at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2012


> What I meant was, if this boy is an only child, how did he happen to have a toddler-sized handy dress to try on in the first place when he was younger?

Oh, I see. Well, from my own experience: my kid's preschool had a big pile of dress-up clothes, which included "princess" dresses. There was one boy who always made a beeline right for one of them, and spent almost every day wearing a ball gown.

Playdates are not uncommon places for kids to try on other kid's clothes. Or he could've been shopping with his parents and passed through the girls' clothes section and asked for one. There's no shortage of ways for children to get their hands on outfits that aren't from their expected gender, that don't rely on parents pushing them on the kid.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:54 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if he has a sister, he might try on her clothes, too. My young son grabbed one of my daughter's bright yellow "princess" outfits a few weeks ago, complete with skirt, announced he was a "handsome prince" and wore it for hours.
posted by zarq at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was in the Housing Works Bookshop one day last week, and there was a guy browsing in a skirt. Nobody was even looking twice at him. I wish everywhere could be like the Housing Works Bookshop.

I was a prissy child and wore frilly dresses almost exclusively. I'm really glad my parents supported me in that rather than just laying out practical jeans and sweatshirts every day and telling me, "you'll wear this and like it, young lady!" I'm glad this family is doing the same for their son.

Huzzah dad! You and your son rock!

(Oh, and on the "small towns vs. big cities" thing -- we don't know why they moved to the smaller town. For all we know there are reasons much bigger than a son who enjoys dresses that caused them to move there. Maybe they had to move there for economic reasons or to care for an elderly relative, and it wasn't a choice. I agree that it's amazing when people make huge life choices based on the interests of their kids, but it isn't always possible.)
posted by Sara C. at 7:16 AM on September 2, 2012


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