Society accepts that little girls can do anything boys can do. But what happens when the issue is flipped?
By Henry Adeleye on May 29, 2015
I recently stumbled across a thought-provoking article about a different take on gender equality. In it, the author, who is a mom, first discusses how much she loved a new girls clothing line she discovered, founded by two frustrated moms, that featured clothes with rocket ships, trains, and dinosaurs — clothing typically reserved for the boys section.
Of course, this is great news. In a society trying every day — sometimes with success, sometimes without — to move past gender barriers, it's good to see people pushing the fact that girls can do "boy" things without feeling like less of a girl. But what happens when the issue is flipped? When a boy wants to do something generally considered "girly", society isn't always as accepting. Little girls are encouraged to play football, but little boys aren't encouraged to take up figure skating. We rightfully praise the Mo'ne Davis, but wrongfully shun the Troy Baker.
The author then focuses on the aspect of gender equality as it relates to her son, who is more into things typically deemed feminine by society's standards. She notes:
My perfect, adorable 5-year-old is that boy who wanted to be Elsa for Halloween. He ended up loving his costume, but we had to piece it together because no store sells a “Boy Elsa” costume, and even in preschool, I did not even want to think of what the other kids would say to my guy if I let him wear a dress to school.
And that's where the problem lies. If the same company that made rocket ship shirts for girls also made "Boy Elsa" shirts, this issue for her could be alleviated. What it means to be a boy, or a man, is something that hasn't really changed much in a world where everything else is in constant flux. With so many people walking around unhappy trying to be someone they're not, there needs to be a way to ensure that people can be more happy just by being themselves.
Are we falling short of letting our boys know they can be whoever they want to be, even if it doesn't happen to be the prototypical alpha male? Have we made enough room in our minds for boys who don't want to play with trucks? Will there ever be a gender-neutral Elsa shirt for the author's son to wear to school, the same way there's a gender-neutral Olaf shirt? Only time will tell. But one thing's for sure, an open mind and an open conversation will help get the ball rolling.