Most parenting “trends” are bad. In general, as a parent, you should strive to be as old-fashioned as possible. Even if your children subsequently rebel against your authority — as, predictably, most kids do — you need to give them an actual authority to rebel against. And then you crush the rebellion like Darth Vader wiping out Alderaan.
Trendy progressive parents nowadays are into gender neutrality. They don’t want to impose oppressive gender norms on their kids because having normal kids is wrong, or something. What trendy progressive parents want is for their kids to be hopelessly confused weirdos, so that the parents then have a “cause” to crusade for. Nothing else can explain this Huffington Post column by Erika Kleinman:
I cut my 3-year-old daughter’s hair really short. She had asked me, specifically, “Can you cut my hair like a boy? Really, really short?” At first I gave her a bob. Then a shorter bob. Then finally, when she asked yet another time, I said to myself, “Why am I avoiding this? Let’s do it.” I got out the clippers.
Why did it take her asking me three times for me to take action? Because this culture is still very binary when it comes to gender, and never more so than during early childhood. And I’m not immune to my culture, and I feared the reactions of others. . . .
It’s like a Jeff Foxworthy joke. You might be a trendy progressive parent if you’ve ever written a sentence that includes the phrase, “this culture is still very binary when it comes to gender.” Hint: When it comes to parenting, Judith Butler is not your friend. More Kleinman:
When I was in the fifth month of my pregnancy with my first child, everyone wanted to know the sex. “Boy or girl?” When I said, “Surprise,” they were openly horrified. “No one is going to know what to get the baby!” Pink or blue? Cupcakes or puppy dogs? Butterflies or tractors? These conversations annoyed me. I have a foot in my spleen and no bladder capacity and you want to know pink or blue?
Even without the key information of my baby’s sex, people sounded off on how different boys and girls are. Boys are so bold, so daring. Girls are so sweet, such good listeners. Many of these people were college educated, where they ostensibly took one class which addressed binary gender constructs. One lesbian mother described her son as “all boy.” What does that even mean? I don’t hold gay people to a higher standard when it comes to questioning gender roles, but it is testimony of how deep these perceptions of girls and boys run in this culture. . . .
Again, she uses the phrase “this culture.” Please tell us, Ms. Kleinman, where can we find a culture without “gender roles” and “perceptions of girls and boys”? Can you point to another culture — and utopian science fiction novels don’t count — where androgynous gender anarchy prevails? This could be an interesting subject for anthropologists to explore. As a practical guideline for successful parenting, however, mere theories about a gender-free culture might not be so helpful. Back to Kleinman:
Where does the assertion come from that girls and boys behave certain ways, and that this is inherent? They are socialized differently and may have different ways of relating to one another, especially as they get older and these expectations become even more rigid. But are these differences as stark as many parents say they are? Indeed, many of the parents who stated that boys and girls were “so different” were basing this assumption on their uncontrolled experiment of (their own) two children.
Yet gender stereotypes are encouraged in early childhood, especially when it comes to toys. With that in mind, during my pregnancy, I vowed I would empower our girls, and make sure our boys were sensitive. As it turned out, we had two girls. When my youngest daughter was born, I joked to my husband, “Well, who knows? Jury’s still out on gender until they tell us themselves.” . . .
For the first three years of my older daughter’s life, I was careful to say, “Shea, when you get a boyfriend or girlfriend…” until she finally corrected me, at 4 years old. She said, “Mom, I’m going to marry a boy, so you can stop saying that. I don’t want to marry a girl.” Fair enough.
When my youngest child started pointing at little boys in picture books, saying, “That’s me,” I was surprised. . . .
You were “surprised”? As if your daughter wasn’t sensitive enough to pick up on her mother’s hostility to “gender stereotypes”? You spent the first four years of your older daughter’s life inciting her to bisexuality, and yet now you’re “surprised” that your younger daughter is confused about her gender? Clueless much?
When I cut Phoebe’s hair, I used clippers . . . I left some length on top, skater boi style. The difference was pretty striking. She really did look like a boy. After the haircut, I noticed that I felt some loss around my perception of my child as female. I felt fear about how my child might be treated. My child attends a Montessori school filled with people who are like-minded in terms of empathy and rejecting cultural stereotypes, but kindergarten at a public school is only two years away. And what then? . . .
You can read the whole infuriating thing. It seems to have become a trend among progressive parents to promote gender confusion in their children, a practice that allows feminist mothers to challenge “stereotypes” vicariously. If they can raise a sissy boy or a butch girl whose abnormal behavior makes them a target of ridicule and ostracism, these mothers can then spend the rest of their lives as crusaders on behalf of tolerance, and be praised by their progressive peers for so courageously defending the child whose personality they have warped.
Catherine Newman is so proud of her effeminate son, you see? And if Erika Kleinman can “empower” her daughter Phoebe to be a “scary butch lesbian” like Rachel Maddow, this will be counted as success among the feminist peers whose admiration Ms. Kleinman craves. The child’s happiness is ultimately less important to progressive parents than “rejecting cultural stereotypes.”
— Social Science-Neutrality (@PAEOAM) September 9, 2014
First published at TheOtherMcCain.com
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.