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Screw Normal. Dresses are Fun.

So I wrote in another piece how I often want to say to my son, Just be a normal boy!” (Disclaimer: I don’t actually say that to him.)

And since I talk about this, frequently, with more people than the ½ dozen who read this blog, I’ve had a lot of conversations that checked/schooled/inspired/calmed me. A few that put me at ease and reminded me that my “issues” with my kid’s “issues” are really just my issues.

Last year, when I visited a childhood friend in suburban Denver, I gave him a heads-up that my eldest son might want to wear a dress. So my friend gave his own three sons a heads-up: “Guys? So this little boy is coming and he might wear a dress. You guys know that’s ok, right?.”

Their response? – “Duh, Dad.” (Followed by eye rolls.)

I was not expecting from suburban Denver.

Recently I reached out to in-laws with whom we spend a lot of time. Neither they nor their kids had ever acknowledged the fact that my older boy frequently (always?) wears a skirt. They’ve never acknowledged it, not even the teenage boys. I reached out to thank them and sort of address the white elephant in a skirt to just say, “It means a lot you haven’t made it a big deal.”

The response: “Please. What is normal? At my work, I’m within spitting distance of a dad who’s teenage son is in drug rehab, a 50yo woman who’s obviously gay but hasn’t come out, and a woman who’s son is transitioning. So I ask you: what is normal? We support you guys’ decisions regarding your kids and think you’re doing just the right thing. So he wants to wear a dress? Cool. Let him. We love it.”

That, I was not expecting.

(Side note – The closer I’ve grown to Connecticut culture, the more I appreciate that they don’t discuss anything. It’s hilarious. My family is neither Italian nor Jewish, the cultures I associate with tireless discussion…which I love. Connecticut – exactly the opposite. Meanwhile, they’re also fine with everyone around them. Live and let live.

So I suppose I should have expected the response from the in-laws.)

And finally another friend who pointed out to me, “Gavin, it’s fun to wear dresses! Why wouldn’t your son want to do so? I feel sorry for boys and men – that they deprive themselves the fun of feeling the twirl of a skirt, that they never get to put on sparkle-y and frilly things. Social convention has taken away your fun.”

Ain’t she right?

If all the macho, Type-A’s reading this blog can put aside outward judgment for a second – isn’t it kind of a shame that girls get all the fun? Boys and men like costumes like long, swoopy capes and big ol’ boots and menacing robes. If we had the chance to wear more “spinny” kinda clothes, wouldn’t that be just…fun? When old, white men put on drag in any circumstance, they love it; think: old men at business retreats with talent shows.

Why do clothes need to be associated with sexuality? Or even gender?

Does wearing a dress need to mean anything more than just “I wanna wear a dress?”

Nah, it just means I want to wear a dress.

Cuz it’s fun.

Should anyone fear fun? What a buzz kill. Why be normal? What is normal?

What do you think?

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6 Comments

  1. Marlene Lundberg says

    I agree it’s fun to wear a dress, and there are/have been cultures where men do/did wear skirts.
    It’s great he can enjoy dresses. My sons never did that, but then, we didn’t have any dresses they could wear. One caveat: at some time in some location, he may bet flak from other boys, though probably less likely in NYC neighborhood where you live.

    If you ever get really worried, it would be interesting to hide/ get rid of the dresses and see what happens. It could be that there will be resistance for a while, and then he’ll just forget about it. Also, maybe he would like especially attractive boys’ clothes: mini-tux, cowboy outfit, fireman outfit, etc. He might enjoy wearing animal costumes, too. That sounds fun. What size does he wear? Or what are his measurements: height, weight?

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    • I think you missed the point. Why would he want to hide his sons clothing? There is no such thing as “boys” or “girls” clothes. There are just clothes. Genderized clothing is a cultural construct. I applaud that he gets to wear what he wants when he wants.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Is it not true that women have been showing up in “men’s” clothing for quite some time now? I never will understand why it’s okay, and desirable, for women to aspire to “men’s” things, but not the other way around.

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  3. raylanc says

    It sounds like you are doing everything right by your kids. My husband and I are hoping to start a family I’m sure some of my internalized homophobia would rear its head if my son wanted to wear a dress (projecting my seventh grade memories onto him), but I hope I handle it as well as you are. I think the earlier we can embrace kids’ identities in all areas of life, the healthier and happier they will be growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Curt Miner says

    AMAZING (in a WONDERFUL way) just how many things are NOT an issue with the up & coming generation of youngsters that some adults still struggle with, huh?

    Like

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