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Bad Parenting 101: Gender Neutral Childhood

A Productive Rant About when a Father's Love Was Not Colorblind

By Genealogy FreakPublished 5 years ago 8 min read
Photo courtesy of PX Here

I'm gonna tell y'all about something I witnessed a while back that bothered my soul. It's been about four years now but if I'm still thinking about it, then obviously I need to get it out of my system...

I was at Walmart minding my business in my own little world... when I heard this man scream (literally), "Are you stupid!?! That's for a GIRL!" I was taken aback by that statement at first and kinda froze waiting to hear a rebuttal. I heard nothing.

I carried on with my browsing and heard the man scream the same thing again about four minutes later. "Stop it! What's wrong with you!? That's for a GIRL!!! What part of that don't you understand!?!?" That probed my curiosity. What in the WORLD could a child want that would possibly piss this man off so much. Lipstick?! A ballerina tutu? We are in the middle of the electronic/toy area, so what, for crying out loud, was this man's problem!? I followed the voice to see what on Earth had him so bent out of shape.

I get to the aisle they're in and the kid, a boy who's only about 4, is wanting a damn car. It's pink. It's f**king pink. BIG DAMN DEAL!!! It's a color! The kid was in the shopping cart with the look of shock on his face and confusion and I saw his little body shake when the man started berating him again over the toy. Instantly, I was irate. This man was emotionally abusing his child over the color paint the company slapped onto a toy? You've got to be kidding me!

So many ironies ran through my mind, one being that the family was black and I was thinking, "How the hell are you gonna discriminate something by color to the child, yet expect the opposite to be done to you by an adult!?" Another being, "You seriously lack credits in science education, sir, if you think merely having a penis makes your child a boy." I thought a couple of other things like how that man probably has driven a red car in his lifetime, if he didn't own one at the moment, and how red is pink's big sister. I also thought about throat punching the man because obviously, his wife lacked the balls to stand up to him herself. She just kept quiet, putting the toys back on the shelf as if it were she who was being scolded. My instinct was to buy the toy real quick and gift it to the child right there on the spot, daring the father to say something; but this man was so damn angry, that I wondered if the kid and woman might have to pay for it when they got home and I didn't want them being humiliated or abused any more than what I was already witnessing. I just stood there staring at him deliberately and awkwardly, the way I do strangers who NEED their ego turned down a notch. He saw me and chilled. I followed them, quite obviously, through a couple more aisles. I wanted him to know he was being watched and I wanted him to know I wasn't a child nor woman who was afraid of him. Needless to say, after eye contact with me several times, which I made anything but friendly and non-threatening, he completely chilled out. I backed off after he was calm and I knew he wasn't going to be yelling at them any further and continued my shopping but to this day, 1,825+ days later, I'm still thinking about how he tore that baby's nerves all to shreds over something so, in itself, ignorant and childish.

First off, colors have nothing to do with a damn thing. They are merely assigned by the culture you live within: black cats are considered unlucky here in the US, lucky in Japan and a goddess in ancient Egypt. Perception of color having meaning is 100% culturally taught. This whole notion of "blue is for boys" and "pink is for girls" is a modern invention! I understand that father might have failed science class, thus not be educated in how a child who has a penis might actually have ovaries and estrogen rather than testicles (totally overlooking the fact the male child has nipples, which we all know comes from the fact all babies are first female) but did he not pay attention in History class either? Did he forget that grown men wore lace, tights, and ribbons in their hair until the dawning of 19th century? That wasn't very long ago, Chester!

Pants are a relatively modern concept for men as well, and even Jesus basically wore a "dress." In his day, the tunics of men and women were all cut from the same pattern and stitched from the same fabric. There were no "male" or "female" garments and they certainly weren't color-based, as everything was neutral and earth-toned then, with only the rich being able to afford cloth dyed from exotic berries one doesn't find growing in a desert. Scholars and historians have pointed out the only difference in male and female attire in the Biblical era was the way their belts were decorated and the jewelry they were. As a matter of fact, Greeks considered the Persian men wearing pants to be a feminine thing. This man also didn't think about how over all of these years, men have worn flowered shirts because most clothing was handmade from flour sacks until well after WWII. With flour sack shirts and dresses becoming the norm, flour companies actually changed from housing their products in drab brown burlap to colorful, more pleasing fabrics solely for the intent that they would become someone's clothing. All children, whether male or female (or what we perceive to be one or the other), even wore nightgowns and bonnets with lace until well into the 1960s. He obviously forgot about the 1980s when men had long hair teased to the heavens and earrings while the girls started taking a more androgynous approach with their hair getting shorter and clothes more masculine, adopting blazers, suspenders, and ties.

Secondly, the division of objects by gender is also utter B.S. I promise you I have needed a wrench, drill, and carjack FAR more in my life than I've needed a pie pan, baby carriage, or lipstick! Can't fix a flat tire with a lipstick. I've seen a few men have to wear platform shoes in order to not be discriminated against or looked at differently by other men for being short when going on job interviews. I have known men who had to wear makeup to cover scars left by terrible things that happened to them. I also knew a couple of heterosexual men who sold cosmetics, and were damn good at it, because they were good salesmen, knew what men wanted to see their women wear, and could make the women feel beautiful. Learning to play with makeup proved to be very lucrative for them.

Teach your girls to build and fix things for themselves because if their spouse dies, they're going to need to know these things! Let your boys play with dolls and learn how to be gentle with babies because if his wife dies, he's going to have to know these things! He's going to have to know how to braid his little girl's hair! Stop impeding them now and who they will become later out of your own insecurities and ignorance. That man didn't play with dolls and obviously, he wasn't a very nurturing and gentle father. That baby was 4. He had no concept of any type of division what-so-ever. He just knew something spoke fun into his soul and he wanted to partake.

That's exactly what's wrong with the world. Too many people are ass-hats and project that onto further generations like it's the norm. Nobody gets to be true to themselves because someone is always yelling corrections over their shoulder, telling them who they can and can't be, what is and isn't okay in a third-party's point of view. "You can't do that! Do you know what the neighbors will say?" That's B.S. Who the hell are the neighbors? People with their own skeletons in their own dusty closet, telling their kids to not do things because of what YOU might think, Dad.

Raising your children in a gender-neutral atmosphere has little to do with their sexuality or whether or not they will want a sex change later.It's about letting them experience a little bit of everything and finding what really works for them. Think about the children who would have starved to death and the businesses that would have dissolved during WWI had women not stepped up to the plate and started working in factories and such, taking on "men's work." Today, we would have no Gordon Ramsey "the great chef" if someone would have kept him out of the kitchen because it's a "woman's place." Tom Savini would never have crafted the amazing effects that made the movies Creepshow, Dawn of the Dead, and Friday the 13th so iconic had someone kept him away from makeup simply because "that's for girls."

Parents, let your children absorb as much of the world as they possibly can. Remember, one day you yourself will be dead and they will have to be great, well-rounded people without you. They will have to rely on any skill necessary to survive and get ahead in this world and they will have to use their knowledge and skills to help their own families. They will need to be caretakers and leaders without you but they can't if you never let them learn how to do a little of everything!


About the Creator

Genealogy Freak

A mother, daughter, sister and "Star Stuff". I have been a storyteller all my life and obsessed with genealogy nearly as long.. I'm an observer and storyteller by nature. I research the lives of my ancestors and document their stories

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