As I entered my fifth consecutive hour of procrastination today I sifted through several of the trending videos on YouTube. Instead of the usual cat-fodder however, this afternoon’s seductress came in the form of a 4-minute interview with a couple raising their two children gender neutrally. How lovely, I thought. It was only a few weeks ago that I saw the pictures of Adele at Disneyland with her child, Angelo, wearing an Elsa costume from Frozen whilst she carted him around in a pram. I’ve watched her talking about him in other interviews with admiration, deeming her attitude towards his sexuality equally refreshing when she expressed her excitement to meet his “girlfriend or boyfriend”. A simple “or boyfriend” was an effortless and yet wholly triumphant defiance of heteronormativity. She made it seem so easy to be a progressive parent.
However, it’s often easier to put your money where your mouth is if, like Adele, you have a net worth in the region of a $100 million. I don’t believe money will remedy every tricky situation, but it would certainly make it easier for little Angelo to riposte the brats in the playground who tease his dress-wearing when he’s catching private jets and mummy is the biggest popstar in the world.
For the rest of us, it takes a brave parent to execute their liberal ideals in the rearing of their own children, and as much as I’ve always thought I’d like to do the same, I can’t help but be mindful of the fact I wouldn’t want to expose my children to any more hostility in this world than absolutely necessary. Ultimately, one is forced to accept that at this point in time much of society probably does not share my liberal ideals, and that when you’re a child, feeling different is one of the worst feelings in the world. Yet, in this video were two parents putting their money, of non-Adele-proportions, where their mouth was, and they hadn’t even done it consciously.
I was naïve in thinking I would be confronted with nothing but positivity and tolerance.
As I pondered these sentiments, I nodded along to the logic of the parents in the video, who recognized that if their children were girls and wanted to wear trousers and play with cars they wouldn’t bat an eyelid… AND that it would be hypocritical for them to allow their children to dress as pirates, who “[maraud] over the Seven Seas murdering and stealing things” but not let them dress as princesses… AND that ultimately their only hope for their children in the future was for them to be happy. My liberal psyche and I deemed the content of the video the stuff of fairy tales. My heart was warmed. My hope was restored. I was ready to waltz out of the house in a corset and strut down the street launching disparaging glares at every symbol of gendered society that infiltrated my vision. That was until, of course, I scrolled down to the comment section. I was naïve in thinking I would be confronted with nothing but positivity and tolerance. Instead what I was met with was a sobering dose of bigotry. My liberal bubbled was well and truly popped.
Ultsterman96 commented the following: “Absolute fucking degenerate parents, what’s wrong with them just being and acting like boys? The destruction of Masculinity and the male identity has begun [sic].”
First of all, Ultsterman96, I would just like to remark on how lovely a person you seem. Try not to excel yourself in the way of civility, my friend. Second of all, I have a small query concerning the “destruction of masculinity” to which you refer. Given the vaguely aggressive tone of your response I must assume that you are referring to the destruction of masculinity itself, as opposed to the destruction caused by masculinity. Because if you want to talk about the destruction caused by masculinity may I just politely point you in the direction of rape culture, mental health stigma, and soaring male suicide rates?
The second most articulate response came in the form: “yh dress them as isis militants aswell its all fair game. isn’t it [sic]?”
He is literally comparing girls to ISIS.
I don’t want to call these people uneducated purely because I disagree with them but 9 times out of 10 they can’t fucking spell. Let’s just take a moment to comprehend what is being said here. He is literally comparing girls to ISIS. He is under the delusion that lots of little boys running around in dresses are a comparable threat to society as the largest terrorist organisation in mankind’s history. Who knew all it took was a boy in a dress to expose patriarchal mentality at its core – women equal ISIS.
The vitriolic aggression of the responses does make one wonder to what extent these individuals consider gender-progressive values a personal threat. If we let boys wear dresses, society will suddenly collapse and the feminazis will impose a vicious tyranny of equality, galloping around on horseback, hairy armpits exposed, swinging their burning bras in the air and castrating every male in sight.
Another highly, almost untenably, perceptive commenter came to the following conclusion about gender-neutral parenting: “This actually makes Sharia look appealing.”
Maybe you’re not parenting your children gender neutrally, but you certainly should be teaching them tolerance. . . .
I’m going to need you to expand on the ways in which allowing your children to control the expression of their own gender identity resembles death by stoning. I’m trying to see things from the your perspective but I just don’t think I’m thick enough.
In spite of the overwhelming volume of frankly moronic responses, I am happy to relate that my time spent scouring through the comment section was not entirely wasted and eventually I did arrive at the fairytale ending I longed for.
When one user commented “Why set your kids up to get bullied [sic]”, a fellow user replied “Teach your kids not to bully them.” And that seven word response encapsulated everything that needs to be said on the matter. Maybe you’re not parenting your children gender neutrally, but you certainly should be teaching them tolerance – a principle the preceding commenter’s parents clearly neglected to do.