Jasper likes dresses. Princess dresses, mostly, but sometimes also fairy dresses, and tutus. He also likes toenail polish, and wigs, and my high heels. He has always liked these things. I’ve never questioned his liking these things – these so-called ‘girly’ things – because Emilia has always liked ‘boy’ things, and it’s always just seemed to me that they like what they like and letting them like what they like is part of positive and progressive parenting, whatever that means. And come on: tutus and toenail polish and are awesome. Who doesn’t like them?
So it was that I had one eyebrow slightly raised at this weekend’s New York Times story on gender fluid children. Aren’t most children – to some degree, and if left alone (which is to say, not told from toddlerhood that ‘only girls play with dolls’ and ‘only boys like trains’) – gender fluid? After all, if you agree with Judith Butler that gender is performative, and that performance is learned / habituated, doesn’t it make sense that children – untrained in the performative arts, and new to the Gender Stage – would experiment with their own performances of gender? Don’t all little boys stick their fat little feet into Mommy’s slingbacks at least once or twice? Don’t all little girls like karate?
(Continue reading this post over at Bad Mother Confidential, where I wring my hands over whether I’m negotiating Jasper’s fashionista impulses appropriately. Or, go back to this post and leave a comment – or leave ANOTHER comment, because you can do that, and it counts – and save a life in the process…)