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Photograph Of Little Boy Wearing Pink Shoes To Preschool Sparks Heated Blogosphere Debate
December 11, 2012 11:55 AM   Subscribe

"A viral photograph of a young boy who opted to wear pink shoes on his first day of preschool has sparked intense debate in the blogosphere."*
"The boy in the photograph is identified only as 5-year-old Sam. A Facebook user identifying herself only as Sam's sister posted the photo to the 'Have a Gay Day' page, and wrote:
'Yesterday my mom posted a picture on Facebook of my 5-year-old brother Sam wearing a pair of shoes he picked out for his first day of preschool. She explained to him in the store that they were really made for girls. Sam then told her that he didn’t care and that "ninjas can wear pink shoes too."

However, my mom received about 20 comments on the photo from various family members saying how "wrong" it is and how 'things like this will affect him socially'"and, put most eloquently by my great aunt, "that sh*t will turn him gay."

My mom then deleted the photo and told Sam that he can wear whatever he wants to preschool, that it’s his decision. If he wants to wear pink shoes, he can wear pink shoes.

Sam then explained to her that he didn't like them because they were pink, he liked them because they were 'made out of zebras' and zebras are his favorite animal :)

What does it say about society when a group of adults could stand to take a lesson in humanity from a class of preschoolers?'"
posted by ericb (148 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"The photograph has since drawn over 120,000 likes and has been shared over 19,000 times.

Meanwhile, the photograph was the subject of a heated blog posted on The Stir. In the piece, blogger Mary Fischer disagreed with Sam's mother, saying she wouldn't let her own son wear pink shoes to school because it would 'subject him to being bullied or treated unfairly all because most people associate pink with girls and blue with boys.'"
posted by ericb at 11:56 AM on December 11, 2012


There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
posted by Drinky Die at 11:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [39 favorites]


Yeah, I don’t know who Mary Fischer is, but something tells me if she has children they a lot less happy than Sam is.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


More power to him, but I don't think it's actually a wise idea for a ninja to wear pink.
posted by Flunkie at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2012 [40 favorites]


How come the Internet doesn't get into an uproar when my preschooler/kindergartner wears fingernail polish to school, as he has done several times?
posted by DU at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think young men are wearing pink a lot nowadays. It is called #swag I believe. I guess those objecting just aren't as hip as I am. I think now I am supposed to say #YOLO.
posted by ND¢ at 12:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


What a cute kid!
posted by trip and a half at 12:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love the color of those! But man, those shoes offer no support for the active 5 year old. They look like they'd flip off his feet while running.

But adults freaking out over it is crazy. Where did this take place? Somewhere where "that shit will turn him gay" is the norm?
posted by mathowie at 12:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Look, people, is nobody thinking about the zebras here?
posted by bicyclefish at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


As a parent, all I can say is that if it was cold enough to wear a jacket, he should have been wearing socks as well.
posted by perhapses at 12:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


More power to him, but I don't think it's actually a wise idea for a ninja to wear pink.

Obviously you've never been assigned to kill someone who works in the Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum factory.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [52 favorites]


I had some dumb ideas as a kid too. I'm not saying parents should dictate but at that age some guidance is in order. Both Vans and Converse come in a similar pattern, those would be more reasonable shoes for an active child.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


But adults freaking out over it is crazy. Where did this take place? Somewhere where "that shit will turn him gay" is the norm?

I've got the line at -350 on the Bible Belt.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:08 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the piece, blogger Mary Fischer disagreed with Sam's mother, saying she wouldn't let her own son wear pink shoes to school because it would 'subject him to being bullied or treated unfairly all because most people associate pink with girls and blue with boys.'"

"Most people" can go pound sand.
posted by bondcliff at 12:08 PM on December 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


I've got the line at -350 on the Bible Belt.

There are dumb people everywhere.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:08 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Obama!

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:10 PM on December 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


She [Fischer] then adds, "Bullying is bad enough as it is without handing tormentors their material on a silver platter."

Yup, little boys, line up to receive your tiny Ed Hardy shirts and VHS copies of Zapped. FFS with this.

Obviously you've never been assigned to kill someone who works in the Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum factory.

Those are 100% Fruit Stripe. And they are awesome.
posted by mintcake! at 12:10 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the piece, blogger Mary Fischer disagreed with Sam's mother,

Who's she when she's at home, and who the fuck asked for her opinion?
posted by Jimbob at 12:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


she wouldn't let her own son wear pink shoes to school because it would 'subject him to being bullied or treated unfairly all because most people associate pink with girls and blue with boys.

To be honest, I'd like to think I'd let my girls wear whatever they want. (Actually, no. My oldest has had to be told several times that she can't wear tights as pants outside the house.) But really, it would depend a lot on where we lived...

In Berkeley, she goes to school with boys who wear dresses. It would be just another kid here, not a viral story, imo.

Which is nice.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't have kids, but I spent many, many years babysitting, and my basic position about 2-5 year olds is, if you can successfully get the little fuckers dressed in any-damn-thing that will basically stave off pneumonia and get them to daycare/school on time, you have won the battle for that morning.

Plus, who wouldn't want shoes made of pink zebras?
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2012 [68 favorites]


Mary Fischer: "Bullying is bad enough as it is without handing tormentors their material on a silver platter."

On the one hand, I look at that kid and think, good for you, you're awesome, look at the smile on that face. But on the other hand, the cold practical truth is that Fischer is most likely right.

I think about my four-year-old, who is currently in pre-preschool, and he could get away with this, and the other kids would probably think it's cool. He's wanted to wear a dress before (so he can look like his sister, awwwww) and again, at 4, it would probably be a big hit. But there's a surprisingly big difference between 4 and 5 - an awful lot of the big bad mean world comes in around that time - and I do worry about how Sam will be treated.
posted by jbickers at 12:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Remember that little German boy that wore a skirt to school and got teased for it. And how his dad then started wearing skirts too, to help his son feel accepted?

Yeah...
posted by MartinWisse at 12:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


When I saw this picture the other day, I was like, "Boy, the ladies at TheStir.CafeMom.Com are gonna have a FIELD DAY with this!" Because I mean!!!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2012


My three year old son wants a dollhouse for Christmas, but I refuse to give him one.

He barely plays with the dollhouses I gave him for his birthday.
posted by ColdChef at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2012 [77 favorites]


"If you stand out, you might get bullied and made fun of."

Anybody who lives their lives by that mantra is sad and boring.
posted by Phreesh at 12:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [41 favorites]


In the piece, blogger Mary Fischer disagreed with Sam's mother, saying she wouldn't let her own son wear pink shoes to school because it would 'subject him to being bullied or treated unfairly all because most people associate pink with girls and blue with boys.

Similar arguments have been made by people who don't believe white people and black people should marry, claiming they aren't being racist, but because society won't accept interracial marriage.
posted by MegoSteve at 12:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [38 favorites]


#swag
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:17 PM on December 11, 2012


She let him to go school wearing pink shoes? My, my. Seems like there are a lot of parents haven't given any thought to the problems their children are going to have.
posted by koeselitz at 12:17 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


More power to him, but I don't think it's actually a wise idea for a ninja to wear pink

Why? because you expect them to wear black?

Think on that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:17 PM on December 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


I also worry about how kids get treated. But, as I've said before, I think the answer to bullying and ostracism is for parents to support all kids in expressing their weirdness, not for the weirdest kids to be stifled. Because most kids are pretty weird in one way or another; they just don't get the space to let those freak flags fly.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:18 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Is there a German word for agreeing with something, yet thinking that perhaps the parents are using their child to advance a political agenda without thinking about the cost to their childhood?

Palinenfreude or something similar?
posted by lattiboy at 12:19 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Okay, so my son says that kid is a fucking amateur.
posted by The Bellman at 12:19 PM on December 11, 2012 [140 favorites]


On the one hand, I look at that kid and think, good for you, you're awesome, look at the smile on that face. But on the other hand, the cold practical truth is that Fischer is most likely right.

Protecting a kid from being bullied for his choice in footwear by bullying him for his choice in footwear is not really all that helpful, though. Nor does enforcing gender norms in a kid do anything to solve the problem with gender norms. This is how it starts, and by the time these kids are 30, they're posting shit like 'that'll make him gay' on Facebook, because that's what they've been taught by their parents, or what their parents have allowed the world to teach him.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


The Bellman, Jem is your son? Truly, truly outrageous.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


Sebastian is indeed awesome!

Nthing the idea that the answer to discrimination is to normalize everyone into conforming clones.
posted by DrMew at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're not really made out of zebras, you know!
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm almost 38 and male - I used to carry around a big gold lamé purse full of Hot Wheels and army men when I was 5. I'm pretty sure it still hasn't turned me gay yet, but I'll keep checking.
posted by phong3d at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


Even if I had no problems with the idea of making your kid live according to what won't get him made fun of, it won't work anyway.

Yes, there are little boys who want to wear shoes like this who will be made fun of for it.

I think the great majority of those same little boys are going to hit that same risk anyway, shoes or no shoes, skirts or no skirts, dolls or no dolls, what-the-hell-ever, because the bullies are not picking on the shoes, but on a little boy who has different ideas about what it means to be a little boy than they do, and they will figure that out about him sometime either way. Because he doesn't talk right, walk right, watch the right show, own the right toy, want to play the right game. Kids who stand out will stand out, no matter what you make them wear. It's what makes them great. It's what makes them vulnerable.

Does this lead logically to "don't jump rope with girls"? "Don't talk like that"? Doesn't it kind of, if you're going to try to completely avoid standing out to bullies, lead to, "Don't be you; be somebody less likely to get picked on"?
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2012 [37 favorites]


I wore pink a lot when I was in school. I even had a pair of pink-and-grey snakeskin pants in high school. No pink shoes, though. Couldn't find any in a size 13.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:22 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe real ninjas do wear pink. Masters of stealth and infiltration and all that.

I've certainly never seen one.
posted by CancerMan at 12:24 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was foolishly hoping the [more inside] for this post was:

Haha just kidding, who the fuck cares what color shoes someone wears.
posted by odinsdream at 12:25 PM on December 11, 2012 [31 favorites]


People, in general, are just ignorant when it comes to gender. My son (who is 3) has long, curly blonde hair and is mistaken for a girl (by strangers, usually older men) almost every time he and I are out in public. He can be wearing a Toy Story shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. Nope, they still think he's a girl.

He also wanted Tinkerbell fruit snacks at the grocery store. Hear that Sam's family/friends, TINKERBELL!

Shorter form, let the kid wear what he wants
posted by stltony at 12:25 PM on December 11, 2012


People are insecure about their gender/sexual identities these days (and every other facet of identity), so they rely on empty, superficial signs/stereotypes to codify and reinforce their (shallow) ideas about identity more than ever. Sadly, commonsense and little kids having any fun or using any imagination at all are always among the first casualties in the "Identity Wars" these days.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:27 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm having a kid in 1.3 months and my wife and I have chosen not to disclose the kid's sex until then and I cannot believe how big a deal this is to people. Who cares?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:27 PM on December 11, 2012 [36 favorites]


[Holy shit, congrats, shakespeherian!]
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


Looking through the kids' shoes section is freaking depressing as shit. It's either pink sparkly fairy wings, or else big manly dinosaurs, and heaven help you if you tell the salesperson that you don't care if your son/daughter wears shoes meant for the opposite sex. Our daughter gets to choose her own at this point, and what she really, really wanted was pink crocs. So that's what she got. But the time before, she wanted blue dinosaurs, and she got those too. Who cares?
posted by 1adam12 at 12:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since it's chilly enough to wear a sweatjacket, I would put some socks on him as well. I wouldnt be surprised if it turns out that he put on his sister's shoes on a lark, and somebody got a hold of the picture and invented this story to go along with it. Something about posting a picture of your kid's first day of school 3 months after the fact...I dunno I just think this is manufactured.

Of course I dont have kids and who knows maybe preschool starts up in December.
posted by I_Zimbra at 12:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm having a kid in 1.3 months and my wife and I have chosen not to disclose the kid's sex until then and I cannot believe how big a deal this is to people. Who cares?

People are excited and there's very very little information about the kid at first so that's sort of the big one. Why do parents do that withholding-information thing anyway? I've never understood that.

And congrats!
posted by Navelgazer at 12:30 PM on December 11, 2012


I'm having a hard time even believing this story. His sister, how old is she? She writes pretty damn well. She also posted this on Have A Gay Day? That just seems odd to me in a "one of those chain letters" kind of ways.

We're having a child in the spring and, honestly, he or she can wear whatever they want as long as it's practical. I'm sure they'll see daddy in one of his skirts one day, too.
posted by melt away at 12:31 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wearing clothes and footwear? Woah.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:31 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why do parents do that withholding-information thing anyway? I've never understood that.

Mostly because I'd like to minimize the receiving of Miniature Stuffed Footballs Because Boys Love Violent Sports And Must Associate With Them Immediately or Pink Frilly Princess Wand Because Girls Are Basically Useless gifts.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [41 favorites]


My first Ask MeFi was on this subject (will it look ostentatious if I as a mid-30s man), and I'm pleased to say that 8 months later, it's been no problem at all, and the only real style policing I've had on this issue has been from undergraduate age women, who find it a little hard to deal with. Adolescent boys are totally fine with it. It's been reassuring for me. Also, the pink makes me smile every time I use it (so, for like 6 hours a day).
posted by ambrosen at 12:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I spend a fair bit of time in kindergartens, and I gotta tell you, how this kid will be treated has a great deal to do with his teachers and the particular classroom, and there's no way you know in advance how that's going to be. (And those critics are projecting like cray cray.)

Last week, I was in a kindergarten class full of disadvantaged kids--probably a portion were homeless and the rest definitely from impoverished households. A couple of them obviously had been treated poorly by their parents or someone at home (based on behavioral cues and words used). They were a tough crowd, and behavioral problems were all over the place.

Playing with dolls was by *far* the favorite play station in that group, boys and girls alike. I mean, like, the lego and cars station was *lonely,* I'm tellin' you. It was veeeerrrry interesting. Kid culture is different. Microcosms of microcosms. They haven't yet really solidified their gender norms, and I've seen all sorts of things in a kindergarten classroom that first graders won't tolerate--like boys holding hands all day, and calling each other "partner." It definitely doesn't happen only in privileged and hipsteresque schools.
posted by RedEmma at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


I wouldn't buy those shoes for my 5 year old son or daughter as school shoes. It looks like they would develop holes or (simply fall apart) within a month. They don't look very supportive, and as mentioned, he looks cold.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's sort of depressing how low our standards for what merits "going viral" are any more. This makes LOLcats look like something worthy of a bumblingly penetrating 60 Minutes spot.
posted by Skot at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mostly because I'd like to minimize the receiving of Miniature Stuffed Footballs Because Boys Love Violent Sports And Must Associate With Them Immediately or Pink Frilly Princess Wand Because Girls Are Basically Useless gifts.

Alright. That makes sense. Sorry if I came off as haughty or anything above.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:34 PM on December 11, 2012


The linked article on pink/blue for girls/boys was interesting. Used to be the other way round. And, anecdotally, in 1957 I was proud to wear a pink shirt with my charcoal pants and pointy Italian slip-ons ("dago daggers" as they were then called). Pink was quite the color for adolescent boys then.
posted by CCBC at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is bullying a pre-school problem? I thought it didn't really gear up until 2nd or 3rd grade.
posted by bukvich at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Things my daughter got crap for in school:
Spider-Man lunchbox
Cars T-shirt
David Ortiz T-shirt
etc.

She used to be very into dinosaurs, still has nothing but disdain for princess stuff, but they seem to have won on the clothing front. Most of her clothes now are pink.

I think they've failed at the religious proselytizing, but I remain vigilant.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


In related news ...

Gender-Neutral Easy-Bake Oven Gains Support From Several Chefs (VIDEO).
posted by ericb at 12:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alright. That makes sense. Sorry if I came off as haughty or anything above.

Not at all.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:39 PM on December 11, 2012


Oh, I just remembered: my son had a favorite pair of denim shorts that were camouflage. He wore them a lot until he was razzed because the camo pattern was made of flower shapes. Then he never wore them again.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:40 PM on December 11, 2012


Are you going to reveal the child's gender at "some point," though? Won't the flood of gender-based gifts simply arrive later?
posted by ShutterBun at 12:41 PM on December 11, 2012


Pink and blue

It's the first article I could find about it, but quite frankly, I think anyone who uses codified color associations for gender are rather blind to the cultural shifts through out recorded history. It wasn't until the early 20th century that children under the age of 6 or 7 wore anything other than dresses, and a dress was a gender neutral piece of clothing for children. Similarly, the codification of colors was actually reversed in the late 19th century, with blue being a feminine color and pink being associated with manliness (probably because just about all red garments probably faded to a lovely shade of pink after a few years of wear and sun exposure, just to push my own theory. My grandfather had a very pink jacket that he kept from his youth, but he said that originally it had been a quite lovely dark blood red, but after years of wearing it out in the sun while working in fields, it had faded to a quite lovely salmon tint). Anyway.

Gendered coloration is a cultural construct, and before the age of modern media and advertising, was never really set out as a strict rule, because there was no means of wide spread dissemination of some form of authoritarian stricture. I would mark this as another destruction of culture by consumerism and advertising.

Also, pink shoes for ninjas, all the way. Hide by being the most conspicuous thing in the environment, so your enemy is distracted by staring at your feet instead of your face. They'll remember the shoes, but nothing else.

Also, also, A Boy Named Sue. Let the bullies come. They shall learn the wrath of a Pink Shod Clan.
posted by daq at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of the many reasons I'm glad to have a girl is stuff like this.

There's a whole lot more acceptance for a girl wearing 'boy' clothes than there is for a boy wearing 'girl' clothes.

I'm also glad my family aren't jerks.
posted by madajb at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like there is an age where the pink thing stops being an issue for men. I remember a little bit of laughter when a guy at my high school wore a pink polo shirt, but that was as much about disdaining preppiness as it was about gender, and I wear pink shirts to work probably once a week without anyone raising an eyebrow. If anything, my pink shirt/green tie combo gets more compliments than others.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2012


I'm having a kid in 1.3 months and my wife and I have chosen not to disclose the kid's sex until then and I cannot believe how big a deal this is to people. Who cares?

'twould be easier just to go with a white lie and just say 'We're not finding out', I'd think.
posted by madajb at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


We specifically asked for gender-neutral gifts and mostly got them, but the DADDY'S LITTLE SPORTS CHAMPION CONSTRUCTION DINOSAUR stuff is hard and sometimes expensive to avoid.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Are you going to reveal the child's gender at "some point," though? Won't the flood of gender-based gifts simply arrive later?

My wife's family already tried the 'We'll just have the shower after the baby's born, that way we'll know whether to get boy gifts or girl gifts!' which
posted by shakespeherian at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2012


Things my daughter got crap for in school:
Spider-Man lunchbox
Cars T-shirt
David Ortiz T-shirt
etc.


I choose to read "Cars" there as referring to Ric Ocasek rather than Pixar, and that her peers have a surprisingly nuanced take on the New Wave scene for their age group.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


Correct answer?

"Ha Ha, those are girl's shoes!"

"No, they're MY shoes!"
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are we sure the kid's real name isn't Emanuel or something? Because obviously Pink Zebra = VALIS.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2012


It's the first article I could find about it, but quite frankly, I think anyone who uses codified color associations for gender are rather blind to the cultural shifts through out recorded history.

You're probably talking about 90-95% of the population.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 PM on December 11, 2012


In the piece, blogger Mary Fischer disagreed with Sam's mother, saying she wouldn't let her own son wear pink shoes to school because it would 'subject him to being bullied or treated unfairly all because most people associate pink with girls and blue with boys.

So she doesn't 'support bullies', but she does tell kids that if they get bullied it is really all their own fault. Great person.
posted by Garm at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Kids will find any excuse to bully.

If wearing pink shoes to school is handing material on a "silver platter" to bullies, so is wearing glasses, having braces, being overweight, having short hair if you're a girl...

Heck, by that argument, why don't we just subject our children to heavy plastic surgery before we enroll them into kindergarten to make them all look perfect and the same?

Because, oh, wait, they'll STILL find excuses to bully.
posted by Conspire at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


> You're probably talking about 90-95% of the population.

He's not wrong, though: those people are indeed ignorant of cultural shifts in color meaning throughout history. For instance, not long ago pink was explicitly a boy color. Like, up to around the 1940s.
posted by gilrain at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I’ve encountered some parents who get VERY snippy if you call their child by the wrong gender. Listen, I’m sorry that I assumed your newborn in pink and purple was a girl, but really, what is there to be offended about in that situation?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2012


I dunno, I’ve encountered some parents who get VERY snippy if you call their child by the wrong gender. Listen, I’m sorry that I assumed your newborn in pink and purple was a girl, but really, what is there to be offended about in that situation?

Being generous? Probably just a lack of sleep for several days, weeks or months leading up to that exchange.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Reading back over this thread, I find it fascinating that everyone is talking about the color of the shoes, and not the style. Little boys wear pink things all the time, but it's the shape of the shoe that makes it jump out to me.
posted by jbickers at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


He's not wrong, though: those people are indeed ignorant of cultural shifts in color meaning throughout history.

Oh totally, I'm just noting that's probably most of society though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2012


People are excited and there's very very little information about the kid at first so that's sort of the big one. Why do parents do that withholding-information thing anyway?

To try to get gender-neutral toys and clothes. Which frustrates potential gift givers cause there ain't hardly any out there any more. :(

Also to avoid stupid advice, though sadly, what you get is stupid "I can tell it's a girl because it's high/low!" stuff.

We decided to find out but asked for no sports stuff for our kid. Ended up with a lot jungle/animal/travel-themed clothes. THose are For Boys, apparently.
posted by emjaybee at 1:00 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


My son is four years old. He hasn't made any wardrobe choices (as far as I can tell) that would land him in the gender policebox, but hey it could happen. After all, the "his" and "hers" towels in mommy-and-daddy's bathroom are switched: my wife has the green one and I have the pink one, same as our toothbrushes. And our wedding colors were pink and green too (which most of my family don't realize that the pink always symbolized me and the green always symbolized Mrs. Creature, heh). It's not a gender thing, though. They're just colors, man! You like what you like.

Also, the answer to bullies is to stand up to them. I know that sometimes that's incredibly difficult to do, but I also know for damn sure that it starts with the parents. If your parents have confidence in you and in your choices it's going to be a lot easier to stick to your guns. On the other hand if parents are teaching kids that it's their own fault for being bullied...well...they never had a chance to begin with.

and not the style. Little boys wear pink things all the time, but it's the shape of the shoe that makes it jump out to me.

Remembering back to my own little boytimes, I too would have been drawn to the shape of these shoes. They look exactly like what a ninja would wear, all sleek and soft, perfect for sneaking around silently.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:01 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


It might have been already mentioned, but i might have missed it, that pink used to be the color for boys until relatively recently, so this is all loads of BS. I'm a little out of it from cold medicine, so i don't have links handy, sorry.
posted by usagizero at 1:01 PM on December 11, 2012


As a kid in the seventies, I was fortunate that everyone dressed like a ridiculous flared-leg fool, because the only one in my family near enough to my age to pass along hand-me-downs was my cousin Betty, and she was developed, so I had a lot of t-shirts that sagged oddly in the middle, and the pants that I got were awkwardly roomy in the hips and occasionally had brightly-colored stylized insects embroidered onto the pockets.

At the time, though, my mother was making my shoes from kits, and homemade shoes trumped girl clothes for the projection of uncoolness. The hip kids had Jox from Thom McAn, ten speed bikes, and foil-wrapped Ho-Hos in their lunches, and I had kit moccasins from Tandy, a three speed Western Flyer, and carrot sticks from our garden.

The thing was—I knew I was the lucky one. The only days that wearing those moccasins didn't completely kick ass in the comfort department was on rainy days, because they were leather all around and would turn into heavy, wet, cold foot-potatoes after failing to dodge a puddle or two. The rest of the time, it was like wearing slippers to school. At school, I was marked as the weird kid anyway, so there wasn't much value in trying to somehow sneak under the bully radar in disguise. I had an open mind, an inexhaustible curiosity, and a big heart, and that will always get you socked in the head in a school system that works like a factory built to churn out consumers.

My predilection for wearing one orange sock and one turquoise sock, however, was eventually made the subject of a ban and a mandatory morning inspection, though that was mainly because my mother was a successful commercial artist and she said the contrast offended her sensibilities. Few kids ever had to consult the color wheel in the process of sock selection, but again, I was lucky.
posted by sonascope at 1:03 PM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I dunno, I’ve encountered some parents who get VERY snippy if you call their child by the wrong gender. Listen, I’m sorry that I assumed your newborn in pink and purple was a girl, but really, what is there to be offended about in that situation?

As with pets, I call all babies 'it' unless informed otherwise.
You'd be surprised as how many parents don't notice.
posted by madajb at 1:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


blogger Mary Fischer disagreed with Sam's mother, saying she wouldn't let her own son wear pink shoes to school because it would 'subject him to being bullied or treated unfairly

So I wonder about people like this. I've been subjected to rude and threatening gender policing as an adult, by other adults. Do people like Mary Fischer think I should just grow my hair long and wear dresses so that other people won't give me shit?

Why am I even asking. Yes, they probably do.
posted by rtha at 1:05 PM on December 11, 2012


I believe Fischer's idea is that if you force arbitrary societal conformity at home, you save your kids from that exact same thing at school.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I choose to read "Cars" there as referring to Ric Ocasek rather than Pixar

I chose to read 'David Ortiz' as Tito Ortiz, and thought, that is one awesome little girl.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:08 PM on December 11, 2012


shakespeherian: "I'm having a kid in 1.3 months and my wife and I have chosen not to disclose the kid's sex until then and I cannot believe how big a deal this is to people. Who cares?

First, CONGRATULATIONS.

Second, we did this with all three kids. It drove people UP THE WALL. It was completely ridiculous. "How will you know what to BUY?" "How will you decorate the NURSERY?" "How will you pick a NAME?" Jesus, people. We bought baby clothes - though it got harder to find non-gendered newborn clothes between when we had our first in 2003 and our third in 2011. We had a yellow nursery for the first, and none at all for the others. And we PICKED TWO NAMES. My husband had wanted to know what we were having with the first two, but by the time the third one came around, he was enjoying tormenting people too much.

And it's not withholding information so much as "we chose to not find out. You can suck it up, Nosy Rosy."

As for shoes, in our house, the rule is: wear some. Ideally, some that fit and are vaguely weather-appropriate. Other than that, not one shit is given. My kids have never done much - I don't even know what to call it, gender-bending dressing? But the preschool we've been part of for years has no boundaries; boys wear dresses on the regular. Anyone who wants face paint of any kind gets it. My older son has a friend, now in first grade, who regularly has a nicer pedicure than I do. It's all good.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 1:23 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have an older sister, and when I was a kid I wanted a tutu because she was taking ballet lessons and had one. My parents, a Presbyterian minister and his homemaker wife, got me a tutu and let me wear it wherever I wanted. I used to roam the neighborhood in cowboy boots, cowboy hat, pair of six-shot cap-guns in my holsters, and a tutu, just looking for trouble. And hey, look - I'm not gay OR a serial murderer.

Good on this kid and his mom. He looks like a happy guy. The world will have plenty of time yet to try to beat the weird out of him; I just hope he continues to not give a shit what a bunch of uptight goons have to say, and stays the awesome kid he seems to be.
posted by Pecinpah at 1:24 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


(not that it actually would, but who the hell cares if it would turn him gay? Oh wait... I guess some people do.

fwiw, When I was ~5 we spent some time in Tennessee with my mom's relatives. The only toys around where Barbies, n stuff. left over from who knows from whom or when, which I played with and never really thought about. My cousin (nephew...?) around the same age teased me a lot about it... Funny thing is, when he went home after visiting for a few days, all those barbies and accessories kind of, disappeared with him.

I think I moved on to cinder blocks and rope.
posted by edgeways at 1:27 PM on December 11, 2012


"If you stand out, you might get bullied and made fun of."

Anybody who lives their lives by that mantra is sad and boring.


I guess that's true, but then who lives by this mantra? To deny that it is a valid consideration to be weighed among many others seems a bit morose as well.
posted by deo rei at 1:28 PM on December 11, 2012


Love the color of those! But man, those shoes offer no support for the active 5 year old. They look like they'd flip off his feet while running.

Of course no one worries about five year old girls running when designing ballet flats for them. :(
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:34 PM on December 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


I want to know given the number of assholes on the internet, why this parent thought it was a good idea to post the picture in the first place?
posted by prepmonkey at 1:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fischer is reinforcing that which she seeks to insulate from. Bullying is about power and people (even people who are kids) who lack power or feel as though they lack power using institutional power systems to gain an advantage or control over someone else. Wearing pink shoes when you're a "boy" doesn't cause bullying. What permits bullying to continue is the fact that people accept that violence may, will, or should occur because a "boy" is wearing pink, or a person is queer-identified, is Sikh-identified, or has a disability.

Interestingly in the use of homo- or trans-phobia arena, GLSEN recently reported on the value of having LGBT-inclusive curricula in schools and how homo/transphobic bullying have decreased as a result. I think it's important to also note that kids who are not LGBTQ-identified and who never will be are also on the receiving end of homo/transphobic violence.
posted by anya32 at 1:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


prepmonkey: “I want to know given the number of assholes on the internet, why this parent thought it was a good idea to post the picture in the first place?”

Read the post – sister. Or so it says, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 1:39 PM on December 11, 2012


I guess that's true, but then who lives by this mantra? To deny that it is a valid consideration to be weighed among many others seems a bit morose as well.

I don't really understand this statement. Do you believe that you should live your life prescribed by some impartial, unknowable, acceptable standard? So, pink, zebra-striped shoes aren't okay? Are pink shoes okay? Are zebra-striped shoes okay? What about purple zebra-striped shoes?

Man, live your life. If people don't 'get' you, if people really have a hard time with what you're wearing, fuck 'em. When you let the bullies decide what's okay, you've let them win.

This kid should be able to wear whatever he wants and if he gets bullied for it, the bullies should be punished. It really is that simple.
posted by Phreesh at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's also worth remembering that, as far as we know, the kid hasn't been made fun of for wearing the shoes. It's one thing to tell a kid who is being bullied for something silly that maybe it's worth changing that thing to avoid the bullying (not that I think this usually works, but I understand why people think it does). Making the assumption that he will be bullied before it even happens is just buying into the idea that the bullying is rational and normal.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:59 PM on December 11, 2012


If it were my kid I couldn't help worrying as well. I wouldn't forbid him from wearing these shoes but I would want to warn him what he might be up against.
Then again, that might be a good time to talk about bullying and gender roles in a child appropriate way.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:00 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those shoes aren't very practical for running. Poor choice for preschool. He might break a nail.
posted by banished at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


A few years ago I was getting my son dressed after a swimming lesson at a nearby pool. He was probably around two at the time and he had amazingly long hair. I think I had either put his nappy ("diaper") back on or he was still wearing his bathers, because I was being given the evil eye by this very fit guy who looked like a stereotypical swimmer - broad shoulders, thin waist, shaved head and so forth.

Swimmer dude says "Hey, is that a boy or a girl?"
Me: "It's a boy"
Swimmer: "Looks like a girl to me, man."
Me: "It's a boy. With long hair."
Swimmer: "Because I don't want no little girl looking at my penis."
Pause.
Me: "Because you want to have little boys looking at it instead?"
Pause. My comment trickles through his brain, flowing through the ventricles like golden syrup and pooling around his "someone has just insulted me" lobe.
Swimmer" "What you fscking say to me, man?!"

Now, this is why life is not like a sitcom: there was no laugh track. There was instead a very large, very fit young man approaching me with a manic look in his eyes. Fortunately he had a friend there who pulled him back and had a quiet conversation with him at the other end of the changing room. I finished getting my son dressed and left, but in retrospect I had been very stupid. Still, great comeback!
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [36 favorites]


Do they make these in men's size 12? Because I would rock the shit out of those.

When I was eleven, my mom took me to the store to pick out a jacket. I chose the one I liked. Got to the cashier only to have her breathlessly explain that I must have chosen wrong because it was a GIRL'S jacket. I told her that I didn't care. At all. And my mom bought me that jacket, which I also rocked the shit out of.

I think I'm going to call my mom now to thank her again.
posted by davidjmcgee at 2:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just did a Google search by image, and came across this:

http://wsuvlizzybailey.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/on-deviancy-gender-and-shoes.html (February 2012)
posted by vidur at 2:26 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do they make these in men's size 12? Because I would rock the shit out of those.

I enjoy wearing women's shoes (and clothing), and I'm lucky enough to wear women's 11/european 43. US 12 is really the dividing line for a lot of shoes, unfortunately for you (and larger women). (DSW online has about 700 heels at size 11 and only 37 at size 12.)

Not one kid said anything negative toward him about it.

...

But there's a surprisingly big difference between 4 and 5 - an awful lot of the big bad mean world comes in around that time - and I do worry about how Sam will be treated.

Yep. The difference is between preschool and kindergarten. Boys wearing dresses and girls clothes (and even yes, fingernail polish) become less and less acceptable as the boy gets older.

I'm not surprised to see 1-2 boys in dresses at my daughter's preschool. At public-school kindergarten? I would be surprised, even more so if it lasted till first grade. (I'm not saying that's a good thing; it's just what I see.)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:49 PM on December 11, 2012


People are excited and there's very very little information about the kid at first so that's sort of the big one. Why do parents do that withholding-information thing anyway?
---
To try to get gender-neutral toys and clothes. Which frustrates potential gift givers cause there ain't hardly any out there any more. :(


That's why I give all babies the first gift of a bowie knife and a jar of mustard - the educational gift that allows them to make sandwiches at any time or place, from any ingredient. Because sandwiches are neutral.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:52 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Anybody who lives their lives by that mantra is sad and boring.

How about you stop judging people who sometimes just want to be left alone? There's nothing wrong with sticking out and there's nothing wrong with blending in.
posted by FJT at 2:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of my favorite preschool photos of my son is of him wearing a gauzy pink tutu thing... over his Boston Bruins hockey jersey. (He's just playing; no idea a photograph is even in process.)

He's always been small for his age--he was a preemie, a month early and only 4 lbs.--and had a tethered-spinal-cord condition that was eventually detected (he had problems with poop accidents; he couldn't feel the "I gotta go" signal) and corrected surgically at the beginning of this year. He's not very athletically inclined, but he tries and is getting a little more confident. He's reasonably smart, with a sharp sense of humor.

He is now 10, in fourth grade, and brings his lunch every day in a bag he excitedly picked out--it has owls on it, and he has loved owls since way before they started "trending". He has not appeared to notice or care that the owls on his lunchbag are sitting in trees made of pink hearts.

He has a metric shit-ton of stuffed owls, but one special tiny one goes everywhere with him, and has been in every school photo and family picture for the past four years.

So far he has not been given any substantial grief, as far as I know. His classmates all know about his Owl (for that is his name), and even have treated him as a sort of class mascot, looked out for him, made sure he wasn't lost or left behind. I'm super grateful to all of those kids for that; I don't remember my elementary school years being that tolerant, and I hope that's a sign of good times to come.

I do fear what may happen eventually, as the awful middle-school years approach and new kids/pressures/awareness arise. I don't know what kind of person my son will grow up to be, but I'm afraid I will threaten the fuck out of anyone who ever tries to ridicule, intimidate or shame him for being it.
posted by rodeoclown at 2:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Due to some comments in this thread and remembering some of my own middle-school traumas, I'm seriously considering putting together a long-term plan to get my family marooned on a tropical island around the same time my kids enter middle-school age.

Expect a series of relevant AskMe questions in about 5-6 years' time.

Swiss Family Robinson-style
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the time I was talking to a fundamentalist Christian coworker about homosexuality and he told me an anecdote where, in high school, his circle of friends found out that one of them had a gay dad.

"We never let him live that down and it was really rough on him."

He thought this was a good argument against homosexual behavior until I suggested to him that perhaps him and his friends were the problem, and not the gay dad. After shutting down a few more similar "points", he stopped bringing up homosexuality and stuck to evolution and general "society is moving away from God" stuff.

He also could not wrap his head around me not caring if my daughter turned out to be a "carpet muncher". *eyeroll*
posted by history_denier at 3:28 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, the answer to bullies is to stand up to them.

Just ask Johnny Depp's mom.
no, seriously, it's good advice.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great shoes, kid, but good luck keeping them clean.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:59 PM on December 11, 2012


My son used to enjoy wearing nail polish to school, and eventually he stopped. I assumed he got bored, but then he told me much later that kids had made fun of him, so he stopped wearing it. I told him it was his choice, and that personally, being teased for it would make me want to do it more, but it was up to him. He hasn't taken it up again.

However, if a friend or family member took issue with him having done it, they wouldn't get to be a part of his life. It is one thing for his peers to take issue with it, but someone who purports to care about and support him? Fuck that.
posted by davejay at 4:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


People are excited and there's very very little information about the kid at first so that's sort of the big one. Why do parents do that withholding-information thing anyway? I've never understood that.

Asking this question seems a bit tone-deaf, given the enormous amount of shit given to people who defy normative gender expectations in the slightest.
posted by odinsdream at 5:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


We specifically asked for gender-neutral gifts and mostly got them, but the DADDY'S LITTLE SPORTS CHAMPION CONSTRUCTION DINOSAUR stuff is hard and sometimes expensive to avoid.

OMG you realize I now have to make exactly this onesie for my lesbian friends who are having a baby in a few months, right?
posted by odinsdream at 5:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't really understand this statement. Do you believe that you should live your life prescribed [...] When you let the bullies decide what's okay, you've let them win

Considering the feelings and responses of other people when deciding what to wear does not mean to live a life prescribed and neither does it mean that the people who respond negatively to your decision are automatically and necessarily bullies. In fact, to consider and acknowledge the responses of others in advance within whatever might be the appropriate context for that decision is part of the fun & joy of being alive and I think it is widely accepted that five year olds do generally benefit from some guidance in that area.
posted by deo rei at 5:24 PM on December 11, 2012


I spend a fair bit of time in kindergartens, and I gotta tell you, how this kid will be treated has a great deal to do with his teachers and the particular classroom, and there's no way you know in advance how that's going to be. (And those critics are projecting like cray cray.)

Definitely. Of course, there are some parents who are insane, too.

My kids are in pre-k. They're boy-girl twins. My son likes to play with everything (although he seems to have grown out of his purse,) including the various toys that might be considered "girl toys." My daughter is very into princesses and anything pink, but also plays with all of her brother's toys.

A kid in their class laughed at my son last week for playing with dolls. The teachers swooped in and said that toys are for everyone, not just boys or just girls. My kid comes home and tells me -- I tell him to play with whatever toy he wants. Kid goes home and tells his father. Father comes to school the following morning to complain to the school headmaster that teachers in his kid's class are making him play with girl toys, and do they have any idea what that does to an impressionable young boy? Headmaster apparently told him that tolerance, friendship and sharing are a big part of the school's curriculum, and no one is forcing his child to play with dolls. Father kicks up a fuss, eventually backs down. Headmaster tells me all of a few days later while rolling her eyes.

When my kids were born, my wife and I sat down and agreed we wouldn't slot them into one gender role or another. We tried dressing them in colors other than pink and blue (which is actually surprisingly hard with infants.) Didn't give them strictly boy or girl toys. Let them be themselves. The gender identity crap would come later. My daughter didn't have one princess toy, book or movie. So of course, practically as soon as she could speak, she was asking for princess stuff and announcing to us that her favorite color was pink. It still is. My son in turn was demanding cars and trucks, and now he's into "action figures" and "superheroes." Yet they watch (for example) Disney Fairies and My Little Pony and Superhero Squad together, by choice.

One of the biggest responsibilities we parents have is to let our kids be happy for who they are, and not to impose our prejudices upon them. Childhood is too fleeting to spend arguing over whether a young boy should be wearing pink shoes. If that's what he wants to wear and they're practical, then really, who gives a damn?
posted by zarq at 5:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


My 5yo son wore a pink and leopard print tutu (over gray camo pants) to the LA Auto Show. I warned him he might get mistaken for a girl, but he said he didn't mind--he'd let people know he was a boy. Turned out he got tons of props for his self-confidence, his fashion sense, and his individuality.
posted by dontoine at 5:47 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Practicality is overrated too. It's a bit of the subtle part of the gender norms, but it seems like people shy away from clothes that are purely worn to look good for boys. Maybe it means you don't go out and play in the mud, so what?

It is strange how the views change as the kids get older. At first it's okay and cute because the adults think he doesn't understand what he's doing. Later it's weird and wrong because the adults don't understand what he's doing.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:51 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


My daughter's two BFFs at preschool are boys. As far as I can tell, the three of them spend all day running around dressed like princesses. It makes me feel a lot better about my daughter's princess obsession, that's for sure.
posted by Go Banana at 5:52 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


My niece is 6 years old. She's crazy about Angry Birds and will wear nothing but Angry Bird t-shirts. She also hates princess stuff with a fiery passion. When her parents bought a Barbie doll advent calendar, she stared at it for a moment and then said "I guess that's fine... but you know... I can snap Barbie in two between my thumb and my little finger." I love my niece.
posted by thisclickableme at 6:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


My workplace is pretty hetero-normative. For cars my second favourite colour combination after orange and black is Panther Pink and Black. A few times I've mentioned I'm thinking of painting my car Panther Pink or PP and Black and have been met with shocked looks and comments (from guys) about how that's a girl's colour.

Too which I reply
A) It's just a colour and they aren't gendered
b) Even if you think Pink is a girl's colour and say Black is a boy's colour what do you as a guy want to be driving? A car that appeals to women or men?
Gets them thinking a bit anyways.
posted by Mitheral at 6:51 PM on December 11, 2012


The only sad part of this to me is how many people, even here, say "those shoes aren't suitable for an active boy because they will come off." But they're suitable for an active girl? Or are girls not active?

I decided that I was not going to suppress the princess stuff, that it was going to come or not regardless of what I did and that the best thing I could do was let it develop organically. Our rule about fancy dresses is that you have to be wearing a complete weather-appropriate outfit under the dress so that if it has to come off for some reason, you're OK, but otherwise go nuts.

My daughter (aged six) is absolutely doolalley for princess pink sparkle sequined glitter rhinestone crap of ALL VARIETIES, but she doesn't seem to have any association with it beyond "THIS SHIT IS AWESOME!!" We were walking past a giant Cinderella display and she was all "ooh Cinderella," and we had this conversation:

"Is Cinderella your favorite princess?"

"No."

"Oh, who is?"

"I have three: Rapunzel, Mulan, and Merida."

"How come those three?"

"Because they FIGHT."

We talked about it some, and it turns out that when she says "they fight," what she means is that they have agency, they DO things, they are empowered actors in the story. She has a Sleeping Beauty dress (because pink), but when she dresses up in it, she re-enacts the dragon battle scene from the movie, despite the fact that in the movie, it's the prince, not Aurora, who fights the dragon.
posted by KathrynT at 7:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


The only sad part of this to me is how many people, even here, say "those shoes aren't suitable for an active boy because they will come off." But they're suitable for an active girl? Or are girls not active?

(not directed at you) People seem to think "prissy" is a bad word, honestly even girls seem to get made fun of for it too. One of the things I noticed from that Plinkett Titanic review that I had not though about since seeing the movie was how much Rose was motivated to rebel just by seeing the little girl being taught how to be a "lady". I get that Rose was not into it and that's why she responded the way she did but it always seemed a little negatively judgmental too.

Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire has some of that as well, with tomboy Arya's hatred of all that stuff spilling over into resentment of her sister Sansa for being so perfect at it. (with the much bigger issue being that Arya is being forced to try and conform, but Sansa was just being Sansa)

I say this as an individual with beer bottles strewn about the desk, holes in my 10 year old faded hooded sweatshirt, and an unmade bed, prissy is definitely not my thing, but I don't get why it seems to be looked down upon. All the boy with the pink zebra shoes needs to know is how to take care of the zebra shoes. Have the all-weather package available too like you said, you can be just as active as long as you have a change of clothes or you can stay inside, it's not a big deal.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:27 PM on December 11, 2012


More power to him, but I don't think it's actually a wise idea for a ninja to wear pink.
--Flunkie

It's the perfect color for hiding in the girl's section of ToysЯUs.
posted by eye of newt at 7:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die: I'm almost done with A Clash of Kings now and one of tyhe things I'm loving about it is how different yet similar Arya and Sansa are in reality. They have very different desires and viewpoints, but both are having to learn to do "thew water dance" in their own ways and in very precarious situations. And so far it appears that both are growing more regretful of their previous rivalry as it goes on. I don't think ASOIAF denigrates Sansa's "prissiness." I think it respects it as the instinct that keeps her alive.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:41 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"ninjas can wear pink shoes too."

I would like to note that when I went to Japan a few years ago, we visited Iga, and the demonstrators at the Iga-ryu Ninja House (girls) wear pink.
posted by rai at 7:42 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think ASOIAF denigrates Sansa's "prissiness."

Yeah, we are on the same page there, I think Arya does, not GRRM. He has a boatload of issues with how he writes women, but they are definitely diverse personalities.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:52 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember that little German boy that wore a skirt to school and got teased for it. And how his dad then started wearing skirts too, to help his son feel accepted?

Mefi: Dad-in-a-dirndl
"You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either."
posted by esc67 at 8:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]



The only sad part of this to me is how many people, even here, say "those shoes aren't suitable for an active boy because they will come off." But they're suitable for an active girl? Or are girls not active?


That reminded me of something - I have a Facebook friend (who I know well enough-ish IRL) who is a pretty well known "Mommy blogger" (don't mean that in a derogatory way, she is awesome) who was talking about someone's question in to her about how their kindergarten boy was roaming around during scheduled activity times and the teacher was reprimanding him. One of the comments said something like, "Oh so sad too, because boys need more activity!" I was like, "uh...why do boys need more activity than girls? Doesn't make sense" and the commenters including the blogger friend were all, "You don't understand, boys need to develop large muscle movement" or something like that.

I still don't understand that. Is that for real?
posted by sweetkid at 8:10 PM on December 11, 2012


To be fair, most of the comments said something like "active kid" not "active boy"; I think they were gender neutral critiques. Those just don't look like kids shoes to me at all because of the lack of support and ease in coming off, and I'd be reluctant to put any kid in then no matter what gender.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:16 PM on December 11, 2012


It does appear that, when viewed statistically, boys do better in academic settings when they have more frequent periods of high-energy activity, and may have a harder time focusing if they are made to stay still, relative to girls. That should not in any way be taken to mean that there isn't a LOT of variation within genders about the optimum level of activity, though. And anyway, even if girls don't need the same amount of physical activity during the day, they do need some, and footwear's a concern under those circumstances.

As the parent of a son and a daughter, it's amazing to me how different they are. A lot of that is just because they are different people, but there really is a lot that has split out around gender-stereotyped lines; when my daughter was 2, she was never without a stuffed animal or doll, but my son goes everywhere and does everything with a Matchbox car clenched in his grimy fist. She was much more content to sit and do something; he never stops moving. (I mean, he never stops moving. He's even an active sleeper.) She was speaking in complete, fluent sentences at this age, while he has a vaguely-prosodic babble from which words occasionally emerge like seagulls from the fog. But I think it's important in all things to respond to the needs of the individual child rather than the needs of their gender as a whole.
posted by KathrynT at 8:23 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


These shoes are eminently practical, even necessary, for an extremely demanding physical activity that can drive even the most tough, dedicated participants of either gender to tears. NFL legend Randall Cunningham used this activity to recover from injuries.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:33 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I used to ride my yard sale special balloon tire bike with the sweet-ass banana seat. And the girls drop bar. But hey, I also never racked myself on my bike doing jumps. Sometimes the gender bender wins.

My son has a deep and abiding interest in dinosaurs and trucks, but this is because he chose these things. We don't direct his play or his fashion sense, we just roll with whatever he wants. Which is why he spent the entire afternoon playing hide and seek with his mom and I, wearing a tiger suit left over from Halloween.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:27 PM on December 11, 2012


The Stir is really just one of the most clumsily provocative, dull-witted sites around. It is funnily bad at times.
posted by Francolin at 10:01 PM on December 11, 2012


KathrynT: there really is a lot that has split out around gender-stereotyped lines

Gender norms are powerful things, and kids are basically programmed to hone in on and internalize them, to greater or lesser degrees. I don't mean to pick on you specifically, but I see this sort of sentiment a lot in the "gender norms are really real" camp. Even if no one is directly telling a kid "You are [x] and should do [y]", they still live in a society that is constantly broadcasting these things to everyone. Kids, even very small kids, notice, and act accordingly.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lucky brat. I had to wear clunky lace-ups with arch supports because I had flat feet. I still have flat feet. My life has been nothing but a painful death march to hell in non-pink footwear.
posted by Decani at 1:05 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to pick on you specifically, but I see this sort of sentiment a lot in the "gender norms are really real" camp. Even if no one is directly telling a kid "You are [x] and should do [y]", they still live in a society that is constantly broadcasting these things to everyone. Kids, even very small kids, notice, and act accordingly.

Oh, I totally agree. It's not that I think that they're "real," it's that they have shown up in my children utterly without my conscious direction. Also, I think there's some confirmation bias going on; my kids are really quite different from one another, and I think it's easier to notice and subtly reinforce the ways in which those differences shake out along gender expectation lines. Alden prefers cars to dolls, but his favorite show is Dora the Explorer; one of these will be culturally reinforced, even by me, as being "normal," while the other will be reinforced as being "unusual." Those tiny micropressures can strongly steer behavior over time.

What's both interesting and heartbreaking to me is that my daughter Lillian's so-called gender-atypical behavior is rewarded and cheered, while Alden's is. . . really not. Nobody is dumb enough to try and tell him that he shouldn't do those things because he's a boy, at least not in front of me, but reactions are decidedly flat when he reaches for the ponies or wants to wear the pink glitter skirt because it's pretty. ("PRETTY!" he screeches, running around the house in his sister's dress-up gear. "PRETTY!") My own mother suggested that we could paint Lillian's pink tricycle a different color and hand it down to Alden; when I said "Why do we have to paint it a different color?" she huffed and said "Well it offends my sensibilities."

I really don't know what to do about stuff like that.
posted by KathrynT at 9:16 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


When her parents bought a Barbie doll advent calendar

What? No! Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? Why does something like that exit?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:25 AM on December 12, 2012


It does appear that, when viewed statistically, boys do better in academic settings when they have more frequent periods of high-energy activity, and may have a harder time focusing if they are made to stay still, relative to girls.

One (of the many) thing I learned from Lise Eliot's Pink Brain Blue Brain is to pay attention to the "effect size" in particular Cohen's d. In the end, it seems like there's almost always more variation within one sex than between.

Here's a good wrap-up (Slate) of a fairly recent roundtable including Eliot on "The Promise and Peril of Research on Sex Differences." (couldn't find any publication from the event.)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:59 AM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


When her parents bought a Barbie doll advent calendar

What? No! Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? Why does something like that exit?


Would you prefer the Disney Princesses™?

Just ask Johnny Depp's mom.
no, seriously, it's good advice.


In a world without guns, I think that's OK advice. But we (in the U.S.) don't have that world. Some kids at 10-13 are carrying guns or have access to them. Be smart about it.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:02 AM on December 12, 2012


My wife has a Lego Star Wars Advent calendar that's actually too awesome for me to let it offend my religious sensibilities. I'm sure there's a part of my brain that's objecting to the commercialization of Advent, but it's drowned out by the part that loves the tiny Lego AT-AT.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2012


At first it's okay and cute because the adults think he doesn't understand what he's doing. Later it's weird and wrong because the adults don't understand what he's doing.

I think this used to be true, but by now, everyone has seen the Today Show, 20/20, 48 Hours, or whatever the TV news shows are that have surely featured lots of transgender family stories, etc.

I dunno. I gotta give my kids preschool a lot of credit. From the kids books that we read together and that I screen (as much as possible), my daughter went into preschool thinking that "only men can drive trucks" and now says "it's OK for boys to wear dresses if they want." On one hand such a preschool seems like a luxury; on the other, it's fucking common sense.

My wife has a Lego Star Wars Advent calendar that's actually too awesome for me to let it offend my religious sensibilities. I'm sure there's a part of my brain that's objecting to the commercialization of Advent, but it's drowned out by the part that loves the tiny Lego AT-AT.

Better here than the front page (a pre-emptive strike): Jon Bon Jovi singing R2-D2, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:10 AM on December 12, 2012


I dunno, I’ve encountered some parents who get VERY snippy if you call their child by the wrong gender. Listen, I’m sorry that I assumed your newborn in pink and purple was a girl, but really, what is there to be offended about in that situation?

Yeah, for my family, it seems to be a generational thing. Both my daughters were/are mostly bald for the first year and a half, and we don't adhere to any color schemes (hand-me-downs from both nieces and nephews), so we got a lot of "little guy" and "how old is he" etc. etc. comments. I couldn't care less. I'd casually add "she's a girl" and continue on.

I agree it's really tough for the observer b/c you certainly don't want to ask "how old is it?" either.

We took a trip to Mexico for my dad's 70th and on the buses, one of the local guys asked if "we shaved his head to look like mine" lol (I am also mostly bald, but 40 and a man). If you don't care, it's all in good fun.

However, both grandmas seem to care quite a bit more that people know they are girls. No joke there.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:12 PM on December 12, 2012


"2012: year of the pink football boots!" ("Football boots" = "soccer cleats")
posted by iviken at 2:52 PM on December 12, 2012


I guess you could use the "It's for breast cancer awareness!" excuse if you don't want to be bullied.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:11 PM on December 12, 2012


Bulgaroktonos writes "Lego Star Wars Advent calendar that's actually too awesome for me to let it offend my religious sensibilities."

Wait. Advent calendars are a religious thing? Ah, only sort of. It seems us heathens have co-opted it from the Lutherans.
posted by Mitheral at 3:34 PM on December 12, 2012


This pink for girls, blue for buys thing really sucks.

When we were having our kid I didn't want to know the sex and my wife did. So no one could know (well my wife's family could know because they're all in a different country and there would be no way for them to slip up in front of me). It meant that we got a lot of beige, brown, orange and green clothes as gifts from people, which is good because those are all great colours for clothes. My wife would buy stuff for the baby but she would put them in a specific closet so that I wouldn't stumble on to them. I knew that if I opened the closet my surprise would be ruined so I didn't open the closet (the closet was right beside our bed so I would pass it at least twice a day).

Fast forward a few months to delivery day and we're in the hospital room. It's not more than 30 minutes from when it turns out the baby will come out. My wife needs something from her bag (the bag with all the stuff she'll need, I know it has a name but it escapes me now) so I go to get it. While I'm searching through the bag, what do I see? Pink baby clothes. Surprise!

And that is why this gender colour-coding sucks.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:50 PM on December 12, 2012


My daughter had short hair for a while, by her choice. She spent a lot of time telling people that no, she wasn't a boy, she was a girl. Eventually she got sick of it and grew her hair out, much like my son got sick of defending himself about the nail polish. I kind of run halfway between "that's annoying that they can't do what they want" and "well, I suppose it's a lesson about how people actually are versus how I wish they were."

One of the biggest responsibilities we parents have is to let our kids be happy for who they are, and not to impose our prejudices upon them. Childhood is too fleeting to spend arguing over whether a young boy should be wearing pink shoes. If that's what he wants to wear and they're practical, then really, who gives a damn?

Indeed. I save my energy for the fight to make sure that what they wear fits properly, is clean, and has no holes. I think that's plenty.
posted by davejay at 8:58 PM on December 12, 2012


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