Monday, December 23, 2013

Is pink still for girls and blue for boys

At the very beginning of the movie Torch Song Trilogy, a young Arnold is caught by his mother dressed in some of her finest and putting on some of her makeup. Those of you who have seen the film know that Arnold grows up to become a drag queen. How about in real life though - what happens if little boys are into dresses, wigs, and makeup?

A year ago I asked the question "Is pink still for girls and blue for boys?"  Except for the post about my mother at her time of death, more people have read that blog entry than anything else I have written.  Not long after, the New York Times Magazine just happened to ask about the same subject. Every now and than I see a post on facebook or twitter. It seems to be a subject that everyone is interested in.

When a baby comes home from the hospital and through its first couple of years, the color choice is very clear: pink for a girl and blue for a boy. When folks don't check gender ahead of time, they might build a wardrobe of neutral yellow, but no other colors are used. When children become old enough to dress all by themselves, what is a mom to do (or a dad) if the child wants the other color?

The Times magazine article I mentioned was written by Ruth Padawer who teaches at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She does a pretty complete job of laying out facts, quoting experts, giving examples and getting folks talking. She does such a good job that, as I said, many are still discussing this. But what does it matter? Does a young boy's wardrobe choice directly influence who he becomes?

There are those who will condemn parents who allow a more fluid gender expression in their children. Are they wrong? Some of the things that really need to chance in this world of ours are negative attitudes. Is this an area where we need to do some re-thinking? Your thoughts are certainly welcome.

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