When you live according to the idea that labels are for jars, but most of the world thinks labels are for people? And the labels bring with them boxes? And the boxes are intended to contain you?
Posts Tagged ‘labels’
I’ve got to admit that I’m an Olympics addict. I live for the Olympics, especially the summer games. And I can’t say how thankful I am to have DVR this time around so I can watch everything, still sleep, AND get to miss commercials. And, I’ve gotten Q to be an official Olympic addict with me — what could be better?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Olympics from a “labels are for jars perspective,” if you will. In particular, I’ve thought a lot about swimming. There’s something spectacular about the new suits that folks are wearing.
Of course, they help the swimmers go faster than one could ever imagine. But they also do this great thing: they dull the gender binary among swimmers when we look at them, especially from afar. Men are wearing one-piece suits that go over their shoulders. Just like women. And it’s not unmanly. Nor does it mean they are weak. In fact, just the opposite. I like that Q can see men and women in the same suits, especially since bathing suits are, in his mind, a very clear marker of sex and gender, and one that he would like to explore, he reminds us frequently.
The other great thing about these suits is that I’ve not heard a negative comment uttered about them at all. Announcers speak of how they help swimmers go even faster, of their amazing construction, etc. But not once has someone noted the fact that men are wearing the same suits as women, nor have they implied that it took “getting over something” (pride, image, etc) for the men to wear these suits.
So among the heroism, perseverance, and amazing feats that make up the Olympics, I’ve also seen glimpses of yet other ways that we can inject a bit of consciousness into society about our labels and our binary oppositions.
We’ve been in the midst of moving, hence the absence of posts in the last few days.
But, I wanted to come on to address an issue that came up in a comment, and that I’m sure might swirl around out there, if not now, at some point.
A reader wrote, “Have you ever thought that you might be pushing your own beliefs onto your son…. It seems to me that you WANT your son to be a homosexual or transgendered, and would feel dissappointed if he wasn’t.”
That, my friends, is a powerful accusation. And I believe that it’s actually at the root of why I started this blog in the first place. Let me try to explain. And please know, also, that I approved the comment in the interest of open dialogue and also in the interest of trying to further clarify my purposes and goals here, as it can be tricky for me to muddle through them.
So, as a lesbian, I fear OFTEN that folks will think that I/my wife and I are trying to turn our son gay/queer/transgendered/etc.. That somehow we will understand him better if he chooses a life similar to ours in the domain of sexuality. Or that my desire to promote understanding and acceptance of queer folks is somehow foisting my son into the spotlight as a mascot for “my cause,” so to speak.
Well, it couldn’t be further from the truth. What I’m really trying to do with Q, and what I’m trying to write about here in the hopes that others will do and think the same, is to open minds and broaden social boundaries. Implying that letting Q wear dresses is an effort on my part to put my agenda on him and turn him gay is completely the opposite of the truth. In truth, “letting” him wear dresses, headbands, read fairy books, etc is about me allowing him to set the agenda when it comes to expressing who he is. He is expressing his identity and passions inside a much larger arena than is normally seen for boys. And that is his agenda. Not that it’s a political agenda. Not that it’s an overt agenda. It’s just his agenda for being who he is and doing what he likes. And my job, and really my struggle here, is to support him in that so that he feels comfortable and confident being both a boy and someone who loves dresses; or both someone who loves purple and sparkles and magic wands and someone who loves running around like crazy. So, I believe that he’s leading this journey. And I am following, supporting, and grappling, as I’ve written, with my own internal issues around being a mother who has a son who wears dresses on occasions. And you should know that I also grapple with the fact that he plays soccer even though he told us he didn’t want to. And that sometimes I ask him to practice cello when he doesn’t want to. There is much to grapple with in motherhood, and this happens to be one of the most challenging things. And one of the areas that I believe has the biggest potential to reshape some folks’ perceptions about how the world is “supposed” to be, and how the world might be when Q is older.
Also, regarding the idea that I am attempting to mold Q into something that he may not be, I believe it is vitally important to recognize here that we’re talking about a 5 year old. A 5 year old who likes to wear dresses, read certain books, has a girl as a best friend right now — different things that push against the mold of what many folks expect from boys. But we are most certainly NOT talking about his sexuality, who he will be attracted to in the future, etc. The conflation of liking fairies or wearing a dress with one’s future sexuality is a prime example of the labels that society is all-to-fast to slap onto kids and adults. One’s play and dress preferences as a child do not correlate or cause one’s sexual preferences in the future. And I’m talking about Q, a 5 year old boy here. His preferences come and go in terms of what he wears, what he likes to play with, etc. Some of them usually sit beyond the normal social boundaries of what boys are expected to like. But these are not romantic or sexual preferences. At all.
And to the commenter’s final point about disappointment if Q is not gay or transgendered or queer or not heterosexual in some way. I really don’t care. I will support and love him no matter who he chooses to love. I will, however, be disappointed if he feels that he has to suppress his interests or his self-expression because of external pressures. That will be a true source of disappointment for me. All I want for my little boy is for him to value himself as an individual and to be able to express all of his passions and interests. Not much. Just that. Like any parent, I believe.