Even just reading the title of this NPR article makes me feel like I should be running toward the hills in fear.
But yet, here I am, calmly sitting at my computer, simply mulling it all over. The article itself is interesting, but my answer (both before and after having read the article) would be…No.
I honestly don’t feel that allowing kids (or adults for that matter) to step outside socially constructed gender boxes is a.) harmful or b.) going to create the dissolution of gender as we know it.
While it may seem that there has been a media focus on those who’ve stepped outside gender constructs lately, this “issue” isn’t really a new one. There have been those bucking the trend for years, yet for some reason (and I am always open to hearing folks’ theories) the media is hyper focused on it now.
When Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be You & Me came out, both the book and the DVD Tape record made it’s way into many kids’ homes, including mine. I have fond memories of playing my record over and over again on my Fisher Price player, singing along to Parents Are People and eagerly listening to the story of “Atalanta.”
I also remember listening to William’s Doll. This song told the tale of young William and the love he shared with his doll. I wonder how many young boys listened to the same song and were reassured of their own choice to play with a doll? Yet, despite “William” and other young boys’ desires to play with dolls, I’m certain this didn’t impact their masculine identity in a damaging way.
William and his doll didn’t cause the dissolution of gender lines. We didn’t lose the “machismo” of our armed forces nor did we forget how to procreate (two fears that Fox News’ Dr. Ablow is certain will come to fruition if boys are allowed to paint their toes or play with dolls. sigh.)
Even stories such as the one about Storm and his folks aren’t going to bring an end to the concept of gender. While I may not fully champion it (it’s not my decision, so does that even matter?) I don’t think that not revealing your child’s gender to the public will harm a deeply seeded societal concept. Gender construct is the majority notion for all intents and purposes, and I do not see it going away, nor would I necessarily want it to.
I’ve never advocated for the dissolution of gender constructs, but rather for the acceptance of those who choose to play outside those rigid lines. Let’s try and focus on that rather than the sensationalized calamity that is (but really isn’t) the end of gender.