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Boys in girls clothes


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#1 CallMeFeral

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:13 AM

So.
Bought DD a $5 pair of silver pumps from kmart.
Next kmart trip, DS wants to wear them to the shops, DD says ok. But he's a size smaller so he's kind of tripping up all the time. I figure, for $5, he can have his own pair, I feel bad that she got new shoes and he didn't.
At the shoe aisles I ask him to have a look around in case there's some different pair of shoes he wants - nope, only that one. They are VERY shiny, I can't blame him, they're lovely.
Walking down the kmart aisle to pay for his shoes (still wearing DD's), DH meets us and says "DS take of those shoes, they're for girls!"

I was furious. I have NEVER told my children that something is for girls or for boys, and when DD comes home with the whole "pink is for girls" thing I tell her every colour is for everyone. I thought DH was on the same page with this - apparently not.

His angle is that he doesn't have an issue with it, but that there are social conventions, and that the kids need to learn them, otherwise they will get teased.
I see his point - I teach my kids certain social conventions (currently working on getting DD not not show her 'gina' to all and sundry) - but I don't accept that my kids need to follow any social conventions that are based on gender. Or race, say, if that were to come up.
Of course I still subtly push them one way or the other (not that I'm proud of it). DS wears shirts and pants, DD has the option of dresses and skirts on top of the options he has. DS fortunately doesn't have much interest in clothing, so has not queried this. He occasionally dons a pettiskirt when he feels like dancing - he likes the swish.

DH thinks I'm using my children - against their best interests - to make a feminist statement.
I'm of the view that my job as a parent is to tell them that I am ok with whatever they choose - if they decide not to wear certain things due to social pressure than so be it - but my job is to teach them that -I- will accept them regardless.
But DH wants to know how come we teach them other social rules so that they get along in society, but I don't want to teach them these ones. My reason is that I don't think gender rules are valid. But that's really MY view - it's a pretty small distinction for my kids when you come to think of it, to say "most rules you have to abide by - gender ones I'm ok with you ignoring if you like".
Does that mean I'm actually following my own agenda, and that it's not really for their own welfare and sense of acceptance, like I believe it is?

Help me out here. I kind of want some different ways of thinking about this, to help me convince DH. But I also want to know whether I really am doing something bad to my children for some feminist belief I have. I think I'm not - I think I'm teaching them what rules are important and what rules aren't. But I still worry  unsure.gif

Edited by CallMeProtart, 17 February 2013 - 10:13 AM.


#2 FuzzyMum

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:20 AM

I'm with you CallMeProTart. In my opinion a great deal of problems we have with bullying etc have come about due to social conventions linked to the idea of gender specific stereotyping I.e. boys will be boys and the like. If he wants to wear them then why not in my opinion.

#3 Red nut

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:23 AM

Most 'rules' have a reason behind them, eg consideration for others, safety etc. Gendered clothes don't, especially as it is one way... I'm sure your DD would be allowed to pick boys shoes. Why not use that as your criteria?

#4 xarley

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:25 AM

Good for you for getting him his own shiny shoes.  The only people who are going to care are adults so let him have fun and tell dad to relax.  He has plenty of time to learn social conventions (and decide if he wants to follow them).
From another mom whose son loves shiny (pink &sparkly) shoes

#5 SCARFACE CLAW

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:29 AM

I would leave that kind of thing for dress ups, but I like to pick what my kids wear, and I wouldn't have my kids of either sex wearing pumps - not appropriate or good for their feet.
I have no problem with my DS dressing up as a fair or princess, just like them to wear proper clothes when out.

#6 Quirk

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:30 AM

I recently bought a three kids a pair of those knock-off Crocs from Kmart for wearing to swimming, beach etc.

It wasn't until about a week later that I realised that the pair I had bought for DS age 4, were actually girls shoes, with lovehearts all over them.

Kids have plenty of time to work out how stifled life can get, let him wear his sparkly shoes.

#7 Alacritous~Andy

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:32 AM

The only time I might question allowing an opposite-sex child to buy gendered clothing (eg boy buying "girl" things) would be undies. And even then, only if I thoughht there would be a fit issue.

Shiny shoes are awesome.

#8 Guest_Sunnycat_*

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:35 AM

Im with you on this one, but I dare say my DH would react similarly to the way your DH did.

Actually, I just asked my DH and he said that "they're just ****ing shoes". He said he probably would explain to our son that they are predominantly girls shoes and explain that some people might tease him and then let DS decide if he still wanted to wear them. I don't know if this is the right approach either though, as it might put him off wearing them.

DH would be okay with shoes but draws a line at a dress for some reason.

#9 MintyBiscuit

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:37 AM

Ask your DH to flip it around - would he care if your DD was wearing boys shoes (whatever they are)?

I think it is a tricky issue to be honest. DS hasn't hit an age where he wants to choose his own things to wear yet, although he is currently napping in a pink sleeping bag because it was on clearance and I'm stingy. When he's old enough to choose we'll let him choose from whatever, but I know if he chooses typical girl things we will face questions from his grandparents. DH is on the same page at this stage so I don't have the same issue as you, but that may well change as DS grows up.

Rules for clothes really are ridiculous. As a PP mentioned, most rules are the for a reason - your DD flashing her bits to people is obviously a safety issue. Your DS wearing shiny shoes is not as long as they fit ok.



#10 CallMeFeral

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:50 AM

QUOTE (HollyOllyOxenfree @ 17/02/2013, 11:37 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As a PP mentioned, most rules are the for a reason - your DD flashing her bits to people is obviously a safety issue. Your DS wearing shiny shoes is not as long as they fit ok.


Yes maybe this is the line I need to draw. Rules that are there for a reason vs. not.

I'm not sure though. Her flashing her bits is probably more of a social convention issue than a safety issue. It's normally around the house that she does so - unfortunately that includes when we have guests, and at her birthday party! But I don't think it was a safely issue in any of those cases - she still knows that nobody is to touch those parts without reason and permission. It's more of a social convention issue. But at least that particular convention is not gender related? And the thing is, I think there are a lot of social conventions I teach her - say most of the politeness ones - that are not really 'for a reason' - they are just what society deems polite (please, thank you).

I guess I do worry about the teasing aspect. Am I failing to protect my child, by not telling him about the social conventions he is breaching?

And no, DH wouldn't care if DD was in boys shoes. But he also feels that she would not be teased in boys shoes.

#11 namie

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:04 AM

I agree with what you've written CallMeProtart and have a DP with the same opinions as yours so we struggle a bit as well.

I think clothing doesn't really come into social 'rules' in the same way as "don't show people you 'gina" or "always use your manners". There's plenty of time for them to 'conform' to the 'norm' (whatever their norm is) once all their peers are of an age to be more open about it.

For now, your son is 3 and if he wants to wear silver shoes then he should be able to. Perhaps people who make boys shoes could put some effort into it and deviate from brown, black and blue, but until then if boys want to wear a pair of 'girls' shoes then so be it.


#12 MintyBiscuit

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:10 AM

I also don't think clothes come under the same social conventions as manners and not showing your genitals. Women can never wear a dress in their life and it doesn't matter. I was a massive tomboy as a child, and never got teased for it. The tricky part is balancing it - trying to teach your child that they can do and wear what they like regardless of gender stereotypes, and protecting them from teasing and bullying.

I can sort of see where your DH is coming from to a point, but I also think your son is so little that no one will notice, and if they do they'll mostly think its cute. Ask your DH if he ever takes note of what shoes children other than his own are wearing, and hen ask him why he thinks others would care what your DS wears.

If it's family and friends he's worried about that is a different matter, and I think you would both need to be on the same page. DH and I both agree that DS can wear what he wants, and we know if he chooses girly things his grandparents will pass comment. Because we're both on the same page it will be easy for us to ignore the statements or put them in their ace, but it's harder if you guys disagree.

#13 SeaPrincess

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:14 AM

QUOTE (CallMeProtart @ 17/02/2013, 08:13 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm of the view that my job as a parent is to tell them that I am ok with whatever they choose - if they decide not to wear certain things due to social pressure than so be it - but my job is to teach them that -I- will accept them regardless.

Personally, I think this is the most important message of all that I want my children to learn. I wouldn't blink if my children wanted to wear each other's clothes - DD was recently given some sparkly thongs, but they are too big, so DS2 has been wearing them because he likes them and they fit him.

#14 Country (deci)Mel

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:18 AM

You will find, I'm sorry to say, that peer group pressure will make the sparkly shoes and fairy wings a thing of the past once he hits school age.

Enjoy it now while he still wants to.

#15 Mrs Dinosaurus

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

Another in fierce agreement.

Just because something is socially accepted doesn't make it right or even desirable.

Examples of things previously socially  normal:

Slavery
Women not voting, working, wearing pants, short, short skirts, corsets - in fact pretty much anything to do with women.
Underage marriage, forced marriage, no such thing as rape in marriage...
Girls not getting an education
Boys of the land not getting an education
Homosexuality resulting in prison/death.

Forced adoptions

I won't go on.

Does he think his daughter should have the benefits and choices  of  social change  so she is no longer a mere item of property to be passed from father to whomever he wants?

Then his son can wear whatever he wants.

There are boys all over Australia opting for the girls unifo3m in school - I went to school with a boy in the 80's who always wore a dress, he still does, he wasn't bullied.

Perhaps he can teach his son that a decent human being of either gender will respect the choices they make with respect to their clothing (assuming they aren't illegal!) And not judge a book by its cover.

Good luck, it's tough when the fight is at home.


#16 Mudpie

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:50 AM

How will we ever change the fact that it is something worthy of being teased over if we are busy altering our behaviour to avoid it? Seems like the lazy bandaid solution and actually kind of harmful in its own way.

I'd rather teach my child to be accepting of differences and therefore, embracing of their own than that they need to change to be accepted. To try and suggest (however subtly) that he needs to deny his own desires is only sending your son the message that differences are undesirable and potentially pushing him into the direction of being the person who does the teasing.

Edited by Mudpie, 17 February 2013 - 12:02 PM.


#17 CallMeFeral

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:56 AM

QUOTE (FluffyOscar @ 17/02/2013, 12:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yeah because feminism is some silly concept middle-class mums do to keep ourselves busy, not actual choices, philosophies and beliefs we choose to live by  rolleyes.gif

Poor DS, he has learned a hard lesson. The lesson he's taught DD is even harsher.


No it's not so much that, it's more the thing where fighting these battles is hard, and choosing to fight them yourself is one thing, but using vulnerable children to fight them is another. It's like a friend of mine who is shortly going to move away from a very monocultural town, because she worries about the effect on her mixed race children. On the big scale, every time someone does that, the town becomes more monocultural. But disadvantaging your children to fight that battle is not quite right either.

But yes, I worry, in the long term, about the effect on DD more than DS. If they internalise that gender defines what they can or can't do in their lives, it will be DD who is at the greatest disadvantage from it. And she was on DH's shoulders at the time, and would have absorbed and internalised every word sad.gif

QUOTE (Dinosaurus @ 17/02/2013, 12:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There are boys all over Australia opting for the girls unifo3m in school - I went to school with a boy in the 80's who always wore a dress, he still does, he wasn't bullied.


Yes it's funny, in the 'discussion' at the shops, DH did pull out the whole "Sure you see those boys who wear dresses at uni - but nobody is ever sitting near them, and they end up depressed - do you want to cause that?" and I replied something along the lines of it not being me causing the depression, but anyone who victimised them.
And then later that night I was like.... FTW??? The guy I knew like that in school had MASSES of friends and was one of the cheerfullest happiest guys I know. And the ones I see at those hippiefests at Newtown etc are NEVER on their own! I can say with complete certainty that whenever I have seen a cross dressing guy, they have not been on their own or friendless. This is not to say they don't ever suffer teasing or angst, but more like.... WHAT? He's made that whole image of them being alone and depressed up in his head completely. And this is after one of his best friends took like 40 years to come out, because of social pressure. Imagine denying your own sexuality for 30-35 years???

Anyway, I digress. I just hope he agrees to talk to me about it soon.

#18 Freddie'sMum

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:59 AM

disclaimer - I have 2 daughters - I do not have any sons.

My friend's husband is very much like yours - OP.

They are twins and on more than one occasion (as you can imagine) if she ran out of clean jumpsuits for baby boy, she would want to put him in a lemon / pink / white one - her husband had a meltdown.  Just couldn't cope with the baby boy wearing "girls" clothes.

The opposite is starting to happen in our house - if our girls don't like something they will say "oh that's just for boys" or "only boys can do that" - I nip that in the bud pretty damn quickly too - for instance they will tell me "only girls can have long hair - boys can't have long hair" - I ask them WHY can only girls have long hair ??  WHY can't boys have long hair ??

You can see them working it all out in their little minds - trying to find an answer - usually there is silence - so I say "well boys may want to have long hair and if a boy wants to have long hair, he can".



#19 katpaws

Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:03 PM

From my experience, many men are very scared of their sons turning gay and they don't want their sons exhibiting any "signs" that they are "ga" ie dress ups, wearing girls clothing, wearing makeup, playing with dolls, etc. (and yes i know that that sort of stuff doesn't make you gay!) Although i am not saying OP this is what is occuring in your case., this is just what i have seen. A little boy plays with a doll and automatically there are whispers amongst other paresnt "is the gay?" or "if he isnt gay now, playing with dolls will make him gay", and even "i hope his parents stop him playing with dolls, don't they care?".

The other day i saw a guy walking around in a skirt and i thought "whoa" and then realised that i was being sexist. Why can't guys wear whatever they want? Why should it be shocking to me to see a guy in a skirt or dress? I can wear men's clothes (or ones styled that way) and no one cares. There are many cultures where men wear dresses/skirts - in Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and even Scotland (etc). Essentially there is nothing wrong with a man wearing a dress or skirt, or even silver shoes's just our own stupid Western World "norms" that turn it into a specticle or scandal or an issue.

I think, a young boy want to wear sparkly shoes, why not? If a young girl wants to wear some hard Yakka stuff, so what? Children should be welcome to explore things. I remember how much fun DD and i had making train tracks and playing with cars. Why should children be denied playing with things because certain things are associated with a particular gender? It is really silly.

Edited by katpaws, 17 February 2013 - 12:04 PM.


#20 Nataliah

Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:07 PM

I want to preface this by saying that little boys can wear hot pink tutus if they want, I don't mind.  

However I also wonder why little boys clothing has such little flamboyance, even compared to teenage or adult male clothing.  Maybe if there were some funkier/brighter/more interesting options for boys there wouldn't be as much of an issue.  

My DH is a 6'5" man, he's physically very manly, he's into manly things like MMA... But he's a flamboyant dresser, not feminine in the slightest, but a bit dandy.  Even when he's casual its one of his 20-odd pairs of coloured sneakers teamed with a matching coloured polo and a pair of jeans.  He has about 15 matching bow-ties and pockets squares FFS.  For little boys there's just nothing... it's crazy.

I've never understood why sartorial creativity or personal grooming are seen now as feminine interests.  You couldn't find a harder man than my shearer grandad for example, but he never left the house without bril-cream in his hair, polished boots and his shirt tucked in...

#21 CallMeFeral

Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:17 PM

Strawmoose... laughing2.gif

QUOTE (Nataliah @ 17/02/2013, 01:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I want to preface this by saying that little boys can wear hot pink tutus if they want, I don't mind.  

However I also wonder why little boys clothing has such little flamboyance, even compared to teenage or adult male clothing.  Maybe if there were some funkier/brighter/more interesting options for boys there wouldn't be as much of an issue.  

My DH is a 6'5" man, he's physically very manly, he's into manly things like MMA... But he's a flamboyant dresser, not feminine in the slightest, but a bit dandy.  Even when he's casual its one of his 20-odd pairs of coloured sneakers teamed with a matching coloured polo and a pair of jeans.  He has about 15 matching bow-ties and pockets squares FFS.  For little boys there's just nothing... it's crazy.

I've never understood why sartorial creativity or personal grooming are seen now as feminine interests.  You couldn't find a harder man than my shearer grandad for example, but he never left the house without bril-cream in his hair, polished boots and his shirt tucked in...


I agree with this. I mean it's sort of a separate issue, but it is very crap. I feel so bad when we go to the shoe shops and DD's section is full of bright colours and sparkles, and DS's section is dark green, black, dark blue. It's so dull. It's no wonder he gravitates to the girls stuff - it's way nicer. And ditto clothing options.


#22 FeralFerretOfDoom

Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:20 PM

CMF, I think the best argument to put to him is to ask whether he would have had the same reaction to his daughter wearing boys shoes. I'm betting not.

Then challenge him as to why it is ok for a girl to wear boy's stuff but not for a boy to wear girl's stuff. Point out that it stems from the ingrained assumption that to be female is to be inferior.

Ask him if he really wants his daughter, or son, to be internalising that message.

There are plenty of social norms that have questionable validity. But this is a social norm that applies to one gender over another. It is fine for us to dress like them, but not for them to dress like us.

Any social norm that provides different rules for one group over another is one that should never go unchallenged.


ETA - and you are not co-opting him as a tool to express your ideology. If you were making him wear sparkly shoes, that would be co-opting. But letting him make his own choice about what he wants to wear? That's just letting him be who he wants without judgement. Completely different.

Edited by FemboFerretOfDoom, 17 February 2013 - 12:23 PM.


#23 StopTheGoats

Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:20 PM

Good point Nataliah^^
A similar thing recently came up in our house around a dolls pram. I was so surprised, angry and disappointed at my husbands attitude. Particularly as he's a very caring, hands on father and husband so our son wasn't doing anything he hadn't seem his father do every day. We had a furious conversation and in the end he had to admit that yes, he was being sexist and yes he'd internalised the mysoginistic convention that to be feminine is trading down and yes it was a terrible restriction to place on our son to deny him the opportunity to care for and nurture another human being but he drew the line at a pink pram as "it's totally crap that this system of privilege exists but our son won the bloody lottery and you're attempting to deny him his winnings!'. It's an ongoing discussion. It hurts me just to think about it. I never thought I'd married such a dickbag.

Edited by JuniorSpies, 17 February 2013 - 12:22 PM.


#24 Nataliah

Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:22 PM

Yep agree, definitely a different issue.

#25 Nataliah

Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:32 PM

QUOTE (JuniorSpies @ 17/02/2013, 01:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Good point Nataliah^^
A similar thing recently came up in our house around a dolls pram. I was so surprised, angry and disappointed at my husbands attitude. Particularly as he's a very caring, hands on father and husband so our son wasn't doing anything he hadn't seem his father do every day. We had a furious conversation and in the end he had to admit that yes, he was being sexist and yes he'd internalised the mysoginistic convention that to be feminine is trading down and yes it was a terrible restriction to place on our son to deny him the opportunity to care for and nurture another human being but he drew the line at a pink pram as "it's totally crap that this system of privilege exists but our son won the bloody lottery and you're attempting to deny him his winnings!'. It's an ongoing discussion. It hurts me just to think about it. I never thought I'd married such a dickbag.


It's such a complex issue though, so I can see where your hubbie is coming from.  You want to protect your kids.  I know for a fact that the simple physicality of my husband means that he's at an advantage in this issue.  Quite simply, he is a massive dude with a big head, he's thugy looking (without being a thug)...  He's always been at a physical advantage... no one would/could ever accuse him of looking 'poofy' because he just doesn't... so he gets away with things that I know other blokes would get stick over.  

I think he even underestimates his own self-confidence and physical advantage.  He bought our baby boy a hot pink jumpsuit because he thinks it will look 'fly'...  I wonder how he'll feel if through some freak of genetics we have a diminutive, delicate, graceful son (I am a chunky chick who does weightlifting so unlikely)... will he still encourage flamboyant dress?  Not sure.




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