Thursday, April 14, 2011

I say toenails; you say battleground of cultural warfare. Potato, potahto.

Another example of why we must never be without Jon Stewart:


I would just leave it there, but there are a few elements to this that managed to slip by un-skewered in Stewart's commentary:

  1. If the son had been a daughter and photo showed the two of them playing with G.I. Joe action figures or building a fort, I doubt anyone would have raised an eyebrow. Girls do get shamed for being interested in stereotypical "boy" things, but that seems to come a little later and from the direction of their peers rather than talking heads on television who think they are psychologically damaged. I grew up wearing a lot of my brothers' hand-me-down clothes and there was no issue, but can't imagine that would have been the case if our genders had been reversed.  
  2. Nail polish, like makeup and clothing styles, is not part of our biological legacy. It's not as though two million years ago a female homo habilis crushed some berries and painted her nails a festive neon pink because her hormones told her to, and the practice became a phenotypic trait of females of the species. Every woman in the world could stop wearing nail polish tomorrow. Though honestly I'd prefer that to be the case with high heels.  
  3. There is no evidence that J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons is forcing her son to wear toenail polish, in neon pink or any other color. Every time something like this comes up, people immediately start talking about how the parent of the gender-bending kid shouldn't force him/her to fight a cultural battle for them. Fine, that's true. Kids shouldn't be made to pretend that they are advocating for cultural change that supports the ideology of their parents which they couldn't possibly understand. But if a boy wants to wear toenail polish, then let him fucking wear toenail polish. And makeup. And a dress, if he feels like it. By the time he's old enough that his friends start using peer pressure to invoke the cultural gender norms inflicted by their parents on him about what being a boy means (which, by the way, none of them will understand either), he'll stop of his own accord.  Or maybe he won't.  
  4. Following from that -- who cares if he doesn't? Maybe he is gay or trans. Maybe he's a trans woman who happens to be a lipstick lesbian. Maybe he likes breaking the rules. Maybe he's Eddie Izzard. Maybe he thinks his friends are being jerks and he wants to stand up to them. Maybe he just likes wearing toenail polish. Sure, we could point to example after example of men who liked stereotypically feminine things as children and then turned out "just fine"-- aka, stereotypically straight. But that's kinda missing the point that there's nothing wrong with them if they don't. 
 "This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity," psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a health column about the ad. 
This is as likely to happen as everybody deciding to give homosexuality a go if we stop literally and metaphorically beating the crap out of people for being gay. Which is, not. We couldn't abandon all trappings of gender identify if we tried, and most people have no interest at all in trying. What they want is the ability to not have people like like Dr. Ablow calling them deranged if they do something contrary to traditional gender roles. Like a guy who wants to be a stay-at-home dad, doesn't care for sports, and/or has opinions about fashion. Or a woman who works as an engineer, doesn't want kids, and/or tears it up in Killzone 3. Or, god forbid, a boy who likes wearing pink toenail polish.

1,000 facepalms to Fox News for this idiocy, and 500 each to CNN, ABC, NBC, and whoever else for doing anything other than pointing and laughing at them for it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. As a trans woman, I can tell you that my transgenderism didn't come from painting my toes with my mom, or anything like that. If my mom found out, she'd disown me in fact. And it sucks.

    If anyone wants to make their opinion on this into 'fact' or push an opinion past 'this is a boy that's having fun with his mother.' then they are idiots. And anyone that doesn't stand back and hold them over the coals are only slightly less idiots.

    And the world could do with more Jon Stewart.


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