Last week Political Junkie Mom had an interesting post about “genderless” children. This is how her entry ends:
As I combed Borders Tuesday for any remaining children’s books, I noted the only one left in multiples: My Princess Boy. I was relieved.
I remember seeing this odd book too. It’s about a boy named Dyson (note to self: Don’t name a boy Dyson) who likes to dress up so much, he just can’t help himself. His family accepts him for who he is and even celebrates him for it, but some people state and say mean things. The book is written by Cheryl Kilodavis, and is recommended for children ages 4-8. I have a feeling that it’s destined for elementary school classrooms.
I doubt very many kids will be interested in reading My Princess Boy. Boys naturally gravitate to trucks and pirates, and girls like everything pretty, just not boys. I suppose some parents might choose it for their children, but most won’t, even in the liberal Bay Area. Schools have to teach about homosexuality these days; Eastern Right had an interesting entry about it.
I understand that since My Princess Book is written for children, Kilodavis is not advising parents. But I am surprised by moms and dads who are more than ready to volunteer their children for culture war mascots. Some boys might dress up because they are gay, others copy their big sisters. A prudent parent will gently steer her son towards more socially acceptable behavior. Even if the boy really really likes to dress up, limiting dress up to dress up play time might help safeguard her son’s feelings. There is nothing unusual about this request because most parents will not allow around the clock dress up parties for girls either.
It’s not just that a 4-8 child is not interested in real life-like story of a boy who likes to dress up, he doesn’t need it. It’s unusual for a boy to want to be a girl, and many children will never meet somebody who does. If they do, they might ignore the oddity or accept him without any parent/teacher help and without a lesson on human sexuality. Bullying is a real problem, but because gays and lesbians are not the only kids who get bullied, it can and should be addressed without dragging sex into discussion.
How about drawing on rich Anglo-American tradition to combat all bullying? One fabulous thing about living in an Anglo country is that people don’t stare very much. Consider the country classic by Hank Williams, “Mind Your Own Business”:
Some kids are bullies because they don’t know how to be real men or women. Re-adopting Western stoic masculinity as a model behavior for boys can offer a cure for that.