Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Things that Bug Me

This past weekend we had a local street fair, with music and food and local craft vendors. Stitch, Grandma and I of course wandered down to sample things. This fair is slowly being taken over by Peruvian Flute Bands, who seem to purchase at least twenty spaces and fill them with cheap beanie toys, terrifying bows and arrows made of PVC pipe and a gnarled matron to scare the shit out of the kiddies tempted to lift something, but there's also some nice local craft folks who have cute things.

Grandma and Stitch were sharing a funnel cake, and Stitch looks over and catches the sign of a vendor. "No Boys Allowed?" he reads. "Why do they have that?"

"Oh," I glance over. "I think they just sell tutus and tiaras. I guess they figure boys wouldn't be interested anyway. Do you want a tutu?"

"NO! But it's still rude!"

"You should go tell them. I'll go with you."

"No," he sighs, and goes back to the funnel cake.

I've said a lot about the hyper-gendered culture we live in, and what happens to kids who step outside of those lines. The marketing concept of "No Boys Allowed" for a business that specializes in Tutus and Froufrou assumes that no Boy would ever in his right mind would ever play with a Tutu. Also that they sold nothing in shades outside of pastel was kind of freaky. Stay in your lane kids, no deviations.

Stitch had wanted to invite a boy to his party last year, so I was only assuming that Stitch wanted him this year. Yet I was hesitant to make the call, as this boy's father was the first to directly imply that Stitch is gay. How do I invite a Hockey Dad to what will turn out to be a Figure Skating party without inviting the asshat commentary? Should I even care?

There's some weird assumption that Feminists want special rights for women, to the detriment of others. Few things are more short sighted than this belief. Gender Stereotypes hurt everyone, even the little ones. I'm glad that Stitch is aware of the bias. I'm glad he can walk into a store and ask, "Why are all the boy's toys so lame? Why is there so much craft stuff for girls and none for boys? Don't they think boys like to make things? I don't want the Happy Meal Toy. Why do they think I just like action figures?" I'm happy he has this awareness. I'm sad that he notices so much of it.

I also find it sad that the "we don't use paper towels" and "I only buy organic" crowd is buying into this stuff, hook, line and sinker. Because that's the crowd that was buying and selling the "No Boys Allowed" tutus. You'd think a bunch of monied hippies would see the insensitivity in a company name "No Boys Allowed." Why reference gender at all? And what about the girl who isn't into tutus and tiaras? What's she supposed to think of these wares? Talk about your pigeonholed kids.

I dunno. Maybe I'm making too much of something that momentarily annoyed me, but I get momentarily annoyed a lot by this shit. The gendered Happy Meals. The dramatic color difference across the aisle to the girl's clothes at Target. The mean expressions of the action figures. The HerpaDerp persona of male comic characters in media. It bugs me, and the fact that it's getting down to the grassroots level bugs me even more.

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