I’m a white woman, folklorist, mama, writer, teacher. I’m head over heels in love with this world, when it’s not making me furious.
Here are shortcuts to some of my favorite (or most popular) posts.
I have been interested in gender and sexuality (and sex!) ever since I can remember. Now I am parenting a son who pushes against society’s impossibly narrow parameters for masculinity, and I have the opportunity to revisit many earlier thoughts about gender from a new perspective. I have much cause to wonder — why are boys’ options so limited? How can we help our son live into himself with confidence and delight while also keeping him safe from a world where people tease boys for any behavior or appearance that might seem gay or feminine, especially when gay or feminine might mean anything from dancing, to playing the wrong instrument, to being too studious, to wearing the wrong color? What are the ramifications of declaring gentleness, beauty, creativity, and whimsy unmasculine for all boys and men? (And as the mama of a feisty, hotheaded daughter, I think about messages we give girls a lot, too.)
A couple things about me really influence this blog. For one thing, I have come to have big problems with our society’s penchant for binary positions, false dualities, and ideology in general. Rather than dealing with the world as it is, we often find ourselves dealing with preset ideas about the world. We’re pushed to “choose” between a few — usually two — positions: liberal or conservative? pro-life or pro-choice? Christian or not? boy or girl? I’m for richly describing our robust realities and then pondering their meanings, rather than starting with a list of meanings into which we try to stuff our lives.
A snowballing discussion has emerged about kids who live in this in-between space, often using terms like “gender variant,” “pink boys,” or “princess boys.” I am so grateful for this community, especially other parents! I also see these terms sometimes re-inscribing the gender binary they mean to interrogate. It may be that my son one day decides he falls on the feminine side of the gender continuum; it may also be that he always identifies as masculine. In my eyes, he is not “variant” to an accepted, stable definition of masculinity; rather, our skewed and unnatural definition of masculinity is faulty and artificially excises whole swaths of naturally occurring masculine expression. My blog is less about how my boy likes pink (though he does, oh, he does!) and more about putting the pink back into boyhood.
Secondly, one of my gifts in life is to see connections among seemingly disparate things. Sometimes having that complex web of interactions in my view can paralyze me – it seems too overwhelming to articulate! But when I’m able to, you’ll find that web sketched here, along with a belief that small things can make big meaning. Words matter, clothes matter — these seemingly little tools are the means by which cultural conditioning occurs.
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