Tag Archives: boys with long hair

Not that gender neutral nonsense again.

Gender neutral parenting. It’s a big buzz word these days. Parents who want to give their children the freedom to explore gender constructs on their own terms and without shame. Shocking!

It gets a bad rap sometimes. It seems a great number of parents are perfectly  happy telling their sons that pink, and dolls are for girls, and teaching their daughters that firefighting costumes, and trucks are for boys. I can’t blame them exactly, consciously counteracting the prevailing social norms is exhausting, and confusing, and often leads to alcohol consumption to combat the never-ending feelings of frustration with the world. Walk into any major toy store (and even an independent one) and you’ll be assaulted with the “toy section” and the “pink section.” It’s nearly impossible (nearly? It might BE impossible) to avoid the influence that gender stereotypes have on our children.

I’m gonna wade in with two of my own experiences, one that’s cute and satisfies me perversely, and the other that makes my little feminist heart sing.

Kidlet wears a ponytail. For the last month or so, nearly every morning he says, “Mama, put mah hair in ponytail!” We sit down on the floor together while I comb his hair, and he holds the rubber band. Then he spends the rest of the day checking to make sure it’s still there. Apparently ponytails are the major gender indicator for toddlers, as everywhere we go, people refer to him as “she.” He’s often dressed in clothes from the boy section, though I try very consciously to not buy him clothes that have construction equipment or sports motifs on it, and I know he has a penis, so to ME he looks like a boy. But I guess because of the ponytail, people assume he’s a girl. I’m cool with that. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But, HOOO WHEEE does it bother other people. I don’t bother to correct people unless I’m asked a direct question like, “How old is she?” then I’ll reply, “He’s…” Here it is – boys don’t have to have short hair, and girls don’t have to have long hair. It’s really that simple. So, my piece of performing masculinity subversion, acted out through my son. Yeah, yeah, I’m using my kid to further my own agenda. Know what? I’m ok with it.

The second piece is significantly more important to me. This toy is pretty popular in our house these days:

Kidlet calls this toy his FIREFIGHTER. YES!!! A thousand yesses! Instead of calling it a fireman, my kid has picked up on the efforts of his dad and I to speak in gender neutral terms whenever we are given the opportunity and now speaks in them too! I love this. This is so important to me because so many professions represented to children are represented as male, which winds up creating a subliminal understanding that boys have certain opportunities that girls don’t. I think the language we choose to speak in, with it’s ageist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and violent  roots teaches our children VOLUMES more than we think it does. So, to hear his little 2year old mouth speaking to me in gender neutral terms…well, it just makes my day.

How do you support your children in their gender exploration?

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Filed under culture, feminism, O, parenting

She’s so, errrr…he’s so…Hair and gender.

We’re sorting through some medical mumbo-jumbo over here that I’ll probably write more about once I know everything. It’s not acutely serious, but kidlet has an egg allergy, and we’re expecting some more test results back today or tomorrow. So until then, let’s talk about HAIR.

Not mine; kidlet’s.

Kidlet has a head of baby-fine, nearly white, blonde hair that curls up in the back and is just the prettiest hair you’ve ever seen. People comment on it all the time. “Look at that hair!” they say with smiles. It’s true, it’s adorable hair.

See the curls?
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Except that, lately, people seem to be uncomfortable with his hair. Because we haven’t really cut it. I trimmed his bangs once when he was around a year, and then just a few weeks ago trimmed up the back, but otherwise, we’re letting it grow.

Because we like the way he looks.

Other people, it seems, are bothered by his bangs. A random dude in the parking lot at the grocery store the other day thought it was perfectly reasonable to say to me, “You need to cut his bangs, so people know he’s a boy!” Um..well, no. And you didn’t have any problem gendering him, so…

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Now, I understand that they are in his face, but he pushes them out of the way just fine. Sometimes he even asks for his hair to be in a ponytail.

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And then he looks at himself in the mirror and says, “Pitty!” (Pretty.)

This weekend several people referred to him as “she” which I don’t even bother to correct, unless they talk to me, and then I just use “he” instead. I understand that longer hair is equated with girls in our culture, so I’m not surprised when it happens. I am surprised when other people are mortified that they have mis-gendered him. Yeesh people, you didn’t cut off his arm. Everything’s okay. They jump all over themselves to explain that they called him “she” because he has long hair. Implying, I feel to some extent, that we’re responsible for their discomfort by allowing him to have long hair.

I’m pretty sure no one would care at all if he was a girl and had hair in his eyes.

So, until we decide that his hair is unmanageable, or HE decides that he wants it short, we’re just gonna leave it alone. I mean, he’s cute as hell like this, no?

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Filed under O, parenting, toddler, Uncategorized