O.k., so, hypothetically, you've got twin three year old boys who are definitely "boys' boys" (i.e., they love a good truck, they make motor noises all day long, they're loud and rowdy and obnoxious most of the time, they run --not walk-- everywhere, they can hit balls [with golf clubs, baseball bats, rackets of any kind, or just plain use their hands/feet/heads/butts] for hours on end, they are big fans of extreme sports, they can't help themselves from peeing all over the bathroom or dropping food all over the floor, they could not care less about any of the items of clothing on their bodies at any given time, they detest any form of shopping, and there's nothing they enjoy more than 'playing airplanes'). In other words, they are stereotypical boys in many ways. But, hypothetically speaking, these boys of yours also love their baby dolls, their tea set, their Fisher Price Kitchen, and their dollhouses too. They say their dolls are boys, but they still insist that they wear their pink doll clothes outfits instead of any other color ones, all the time. Imagine that hypothetically, the neighbors find it "odd" (they've told you so right to your face) that they regularly see your boys pushing their doll strollers around the driveway one minute then riding their trucks around the driveway the next minute. Even some close friends have confided in you that they're not exactly "comfortable" with the gender bending that they see going on in your household. More than one person has outright asked you the question: "Do you think you're taking this too far?" But, hypothetically, you feel confident in what you're doing. Hypothetically, you're a Sociologist, and you've read a lot of the literature on this stuff, and you know how important it is for boys to be on board too if any progress is going to be made regarding gender relations in the future. You remind yourself how *MESSED UP* it is that in 2008 little girls are generally encouraged to play with trucks and play sports and wear overalls, but that little boys are generally discouraged from playing with dolls and having their own kitchen sets and wearing dresses. You remind yourself of your values, of your beliefs about egalitarianism, of your devotion to raising your children to be anti-sexist. But still, hypothetically, you can't help but notice that not many folks are raising their sons like you are (and you're even part of a Waldorf school community where there is a hugely disproportionate number of self-identified "Liberal" families amongst the population). O.k., so now, hypothetically... you're with your two sons in a craft store one day to buy supplies for one of their school projects. Hypothetically, you are walking down one of the aisles and your boys start jumping up and down when they spot a rack of pink tutus. Hypothetically, these children of yours have rarely asked you for anything in a store (you can probably count on one hand the total number of things they have ever asked for -- ever -- in their entire lives), but they are now pointing to the tutus asking "That!!! Please!!! Can we please have THAT?????" You've actually played through this hypothetical moment in your mind's eye before, so it is now very strange that this is actually (hypothetically) happening in real life. Years ago, long before you ever had kids of your own, you and your husband used to talk about stuff like this -- you'd play "The Hypothetical Game" -- asking questions of each other and discussing your answers for hours ("What if your daughter wanted to get a large tattoo at age 12, would you let her???"/"What if your kid really wanted to go away to boarding school starting in 7th grade, would you support that???"/"What if your son wanted a pink tutu, would you get him one???"). Hypothetically, you can remember the actual discussion about the pink tutu. You can remember your husband being adamant that boys should most definitely be able to run around in pink tutus. You can remember that you yourself had played devil's advocate -- talking about socialization and risk of ostracization and the very real consequences of bucking the sexist system. But now, hypothetically, you are in the moment. You're in the middle of the store. Your sons are looking up at you awaiting your answer. You look at the price tags. The pink tutus are on clearance. $3.99 each. Your boys ask again, excitedly and anxiously, "Please mommy?! So please?! Please can we have these????!?!!" So... what do you do?
P.S. The three photos above show you what my answer to the question is/was. ;) ~HBJ