J.Crew and Gender Bending Outcries

April 18th, 2011 § 88 comments

Weekend Casual: My Favorite (Bike) Tee

Sources:

Bike tee – J.Crew
Cardi – free from swap
Skinnies – ON Maternity
Loafers – Michael Kors, thrifted
Bike – 1969 Raleigh Sports
Helmet – Nutcase

Endnotes:

It’s no secret that I’m somewhat bike obsessed. Ok, maybe a little more than somewhat. So you won’t be surprised to see that one of my favorite tees is one with a graphic print of a bike on it. I got this shirt on clearance at J.Crew at the end of last summer, only to open one of my gifts on Christmas morning and find that my mom had gotten the same tee for me at J.Crew as well. I guess she knows me pretty well. Having two of this one very loved t-shirt makes me willing to stetch one out and turn it into a maternity top.

Weekend Casual: My Favorite (Bike) Tee

And speaking of J.Crew, have any of you seen this recent article regarding a picture in the J.Crew catalog that’s apparently causing quite a stir? The image in question is one of J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons and her young son engaging in a supposedly questionable activity… painting her son’s toenails pink. According to the news article, social conservatives are calling the piece “transgendered child propaganda.”  (The implications here being also that transgendered people should be shamed and not embraced). The claims range from suggestions that the young boy will need psychotherapy to recover later in life to accusations that J.Crew is exploiting the youngster to promote their “liberal, transgendered identity politics“. A bit much, right?

{image source}

We’ve talked in the past about how fashion is a powerful tool in perfoming gender and identity, be it in terms of race, sexuality, class, or ethnicity. We’ve also talked about how these accoutrements of fashion are used by adults to enforce gender performance in young children. This article is a perfect example of our culture’s obsession with visibly marking children as either male or female, feminine or masculine. The binary that shall not be disturbed.

As my husband, the feminist, pointed out – what if it had been black nailpolish on the little boy? Would that have caused as big of a stir? What is it about pink that is especially prickly when it comes to men adopting it? And what if the image had shown a little girl dressed in a baseball outfit? Would that kind of crossing of traditional gender boundaries have caused such an aggressive response? Even within culturally imposed gender norms, some boundaries are clearly more flexible than others.

To credit my husband with one more astute observation – that little boy is growing up with his mother greatly involved in the fashion industry. He likely observes her work with fashion much of the day. Nailpolish, an accessory, is just an extension of her daily work accoutrements. He most likely just wants to be a part of his mother’s life and involved with the things she’s passionate about. His wanting his nails painted should more likely be viewed as an extension of his love for his mother and his desire to share in her interests and activities. It’s sad that such a sweet demonstration of mother-child enjoyment is being demonized like this. Jon Stewart agrees with me, he also had a few things to say on the topic.

Perhaps you don’t agree and are oppsed to little boys wearing pink nailpolish. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear why that is. I welcome discussion from all perspectives on it and I hope that my making it clear where I stand on this debate doesn’t discourage others who disagree to chime in with their response. What is your take on the J.Crew image and the consequent media response to it? – S.

Weekend Casual: My Favorite (Bike) Tee

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§ 88 Responses to J.Crew and Gender Bending Outcries"

  1. Becky says:

    Funny. My 4 year old son just asked me today why only women wear makeup.
    As I opened my mouth to reply – I already knew that I didn’t have a good answer.

    Would I put nail polish on my boy? No.
    Why? Just because.

    Do I think it would effect his sexual preferences?
    Most definitely not.

    • Leah says:

      If your son asked to have his nails painted, would you still say no?

    • Jen L says:

      Well… you could say, “Some women do, and some don’t, and some men do, and some don’t. People wear makeup if they want to, and all men and women on TV wear it for their work.” But that’s just a thought — I think it’s a tricky conversation to navigate.

    • Annie says:

      I think the color pink is less a color used to attract girls and more a cultural signifier for boys that says “stay away.” Look at the toy section of any store and you’ll come upon what I call “the pink aisle.” I know moms of several boys and this phase of liking pink and wanting to wear pink shoes or try pink nail polish is a normal thing, totally normal. What isn’t normal is how our culture handles such things. Subvert the feminine, or the traits we have labeled as feminine. Those are the ones that males are taught to reject and women are taught to hate in themselves. This makes for a misogynist society. This article proves it. I think that ad, despite its obvious attempt at shilling for sales from all the mommy customers so close to mother’s day, is quite beautiful. That photo is pure love through and through. Good for Jenna for sharing it. Boo hiss to those fear mongers preaching their nonsense on Fox. Personally I don’t think the pink aisle in toy stores is a good thing for boys or girls- there are sooooo many other colors to play around with!!!! And nail polish is fun for kids, whether boy or girl. So is dressing up in mom or dad’s clothes. Terrible to shame a child who is just curious and a mother who supports him.

  2. Anu says:

    I was also really shocked by the news coverage of this. There were just so many things wrong it was hard to know where to start:
    1. The assumption that painting someone’s toenails any color could affect their gender identity or turn them gay.
    2. The prejudice in assuming that it would automatically be such a horrible thing if you son did turn out to be gay or transgendered.
    3. As you point out, there would not have been such a hue and cry if it had been a girl doing a stereotypically masculine thing, and this is definitely not coincidental.
    4. Haven’t these news channels more important news to worry about rather than policing little kid’s clothing choices and manufacturing outrage?

    These things are most definitely strongly culture-dependent. For the most part, I grew up in India, but I did live in the US for a couple of years while my dad was in grad school. I went to 3rd grade here and I remember my mother and I organized an “India day’ for my classmates with clothes to dress up in and good food. We handed out glittery bindis, little stickers that Indian women wear on their foreheads. Initially we started handing them out only to the girls, but the guys protested that they wanted some too! I thought this was hilarious — I can’t imagine an Indian guy wanting bindis — but we handed them out to them too and they loved them!

    For how very constructed and recent this – girls = pink, boys= blue thing is take a look at this article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html?c=y&page=1

  3. Mel says:

    Kids try out lots of things that are outside their own experience as part of creative play, like being a police officer, a teacher, a doctor. Some things they try are non-gendered (largely thanks to the feminist movement there are few roles which are exclusively male). But they are also interested in exploring ‘female’ roles, even if they are little boys. I don’t think they make a distinction at that age. I know several little boys who enjoy trying on make-up, nail polish or a dance tutu. Sparkles & shiny things are not just appealing to little girls, but for some reason boy stuff isn’t sparkly. I feel it is important to let them explore the world this way. Play is a key way little kids learn. I am concerned when I hear this kind of constriction on little boys play. If we tell them that exploring or engaging in ‘female’ role-play is not ok, what do they internalise about that? Will it affect their choices down the track – career, activities, how they treat others who do choose differently?

    Obviously there is lots more parenting than just this one thing, kids raised with strong gender boundaries can also be raised to be compassionate and kind. I’m just raising the question.

    (BTW, this reminded me what my preschooler girl said: ‘When I grow up I want to be a daddy’.)

  4. catherine_sr says:

    I read somewhere once that pink was seen as a little boys’ color before the 1920s (or so), because it’s red, which symbolizes courage and virility, mixed down with white, the color of purity and innocence. At some point, it became a girls’ color thanks to marketing.
    I think your husband brought up a great point about how people would have reacted to black nail polish. I think the bright pink made it more of a transgression for certain people. Of course, I think it’s ridiculous, homophobic and misogynist.
    I personally would not be comfortable painting my kids’ nails, simply because nail polish and nail polisher remover is very toxic. I wouldn’t mind if my sons and daughters used peel-off nail polish for kids, though… from what I remember, it seems a little bit gentler.

    • Leah says:

      there are kid-safe, water-based fingernail polishes out there. My friend uses piggypaint with her kids, and she says it works really well.

    • Chaia says:

      Actually, you’re quite right about pink being the traditional masculine colour and baby blue being seen as the feminine in the very early 20th century. But the reason it changed wasn’t exactly due to marketing – the shift occurs in the late ’30′s and ’40′s and is often traced to the fact that the uniform the Nazis forced gay men to wear in the camps was a shade of pink. Therefore, pink became associated with male homosexuality, and due to society’s latent homophobia, people were no longer comfortable dressing baby boys in pink.

  5. Helena says:

    In a hand-me-down box I found a pink and orange sunhat. I put it on my son (10 months) and as he saw himself in the mirror he really lit up. He loves it and should keep him from wearing something he loves? Hell, no!

    I want to offer him everything (well, I am a little opposed to toy weapons, but that’s another discussion). I just bought him some toy cars, he got a doll from his grandmother. It’s something so wrong with girls being encouraged to do “boyish” things whereas the opposite is not. There’s even a word for that type of girl – tomboy (and of course that word shouldn’t be needed). A boy who liked “girlish” things would be called not so nice names.

    • Helena says:

      An “I” fell out. The first passage should be:

      In a hand-me-down box I found a pink and orange sunhat. I put it on my son (10 months) and as he saw himself in the mirror he really lit up. He loves it and should I keep him from wearing something he loves? Hell, no!

  6. Cait says:

    I’m so so so happy that you have brought this to reader’s attention! There are so many things wrong with the way this has been twisted into a political and social statement when it should be viewed as a sweet and innocent expression of mother-son affection.

  7. Mary says:

    ridiculous! I can’t stand the people who’s husbands freak out because their 3 year old wants to play mommy, or carries a doll or wants to play dress up with mom’s jewelry.

    I would totally paint his toe nails–whatever color he wanted. It’s no biggie.

    Being a freak-o about gender norms just raises more homophobes…

  8. lizzie says:

    I’m so glad you brought this up! I remember flipping through the catalog a couple weeks ago, seeing that photo, and thinking- “how amazingly refreshing! and just so…normalizing!” Seeing a big stink about it in the news was dismaying.

    Love your bike t!

  9. Claire says:

    While I agree with you entirely on this, I want to note that there has been a bit of an outcry in the opposite direction with Angelina Jolie letting one of her daughters dress in a more typically masculine way. Nowhere near the attention this is getting from right-wing activists (gotta love the disgusting assertion that acceptance = propaganda) but it exists all the same. Is it too much of a pipe dream to hope that one day we won’t let gender stereotypes get in the way of self-expression?

  10. AJ says:

    When I saw the magazine, I was amazed at the spread. My source of amazement was another picture, which made me recall how much I miss having a Sunday paper to read every week!

    I heard about the kerfluffle days later. There is enough conflict in the world that spurning on more for the sake of controversy is ridiculous. Focusing on the minute allows small minded people to ignore hard decisions for big questions.

    After finding out that our baby will be a little girl, my husband commented that he didn’t want her wearing too much pink. It was not a comment on her gender, but simply a remark on his (and mine!) least favorite color, directed towards her grandmothers. If it ends up being her favorite color, she will get pink, along with blue, green, yellow, red, orange, purple, brown, black, and everything in between. So will my nephews, for that matter.

  11. Nikole says:

    My brother, cousins and neighbours (all boys) played with my dolls while they were growing up and there’s nothing wrong with them now. I can’t believe this ad got sooooooooooooo much press

  12. Jane W. says:

    Gender rigidity is homophobia in disguise, and not even an effective disguise at that. Ugh.

  13. Laura says:

    The whole article made me think of my grandpa. He’s almost 80. He was a sailor in the Navy. He’s covered in tattoos. He’s got a wood shop, and guns, and he fishes and he’s in the NRA and he built a working train and tracks for his grandkids to play with. He’s sort of your quintessential ‘manly’ man, with busted fingernails from years of factory labor and farming. He’s a flirt with girls a quarter of his age, and he carves ducks out of wood and then paints them realistically.

    I went to visit one day and all his fingernails were pink. My little girl cousins had been up visiting and they wanted to paint his nails too. So he sat down on the floor with them and they went to town, painting Papa’s nails to match theirs. Since he didn’t have any nail polish remover, my badass old grandpa went around for weeks with pink old man nails.

    • Julia says:

      This story made me smile :-)

    • academichic says:

      Great story, I love this! Thanks for sharing!

      S.

    • Kalee says:

      Read this to my husband in Iraq over Skype and I am proud to say that his response was, “That is so awesome!” I think your grandpa sounds like a tough guy who can wear pink if he wants!

    • This cheers me so much and points exactly to the ridiculousness of gendered notions about colors, makeup, etc. Your grandpa is manly, masculine, whatever, because of his personhood, not because of what he adorns his body with. And that’s fantastic! It really makes me happy that he would be completely comfortable and willing to flaunt the norms and expectations of his gender identity in order to enjoy his life.

    • Melissa says:

      My sister and I (a year apart in age) never painted my grandfather’s fingernails, but he used to let us play hairdresser during his after-lunch nap. He has thick, white hair, and we used to twirl it up in my grandmother’s curlers, comb it out in all sorts of directions, and put our sparkly little girl hair clips in it. He had been a farmer and worked out in the oil field — both also traditional ‘masculine’ environments. And he was quite pleased to sacrifice his afternoon nap to let his granddaughters “make him beautiful”.

      • Laura says:

        I learned how to french braid with my older brother’s long red hair. His hair is frequently much longer than mine and has been for years, so when we were younger, I’d perch on the top of the couch while he sat playing video games, and practice. Didn’t bother him any.

  14. My sweet little toddler – who is decidedly all boy – comes running when he sees me paint my toenails. He wants it too, just like mama. There is no way in hell I’m going to make him feel bad about wanting to be just like me. What a sweet expression of love and confidence in me.

    • Laura says:

      I felt much the same way when my cousin’s toddler discovered my belly button ring. We’d been laying on the floor watching a movie and since I had a pile of little ones crawling all over me, my shirt had ridden up. He spotted the barbell and asked what it was. “What’s that?” “It’s a belly button ring.” “Why you got a ring in you bewwy, Lowa?” “It’s like an earring, like your mommy has, just in a different place.” “Oh. I want one.” “Maybe when you’re older.” “Okay.”

      I figured he would forget about it quickly anyway, but why make a big deal about it? If I teach him that it’s ‘bad’ to want something that I (a trusted adult) have, then I’m teaching him that I make bad choices and I’m setting a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ example. I’d rather teach him that it’s something some grownups do, and when he’s a grown up, he can decide if it’s something he wants still.

      In general though, I thought it was so snuggly sweet that my little dude trusted me enough to spend his first ever night away from Mommy and Daddy snuggled with me in my sleeping bag, asking questions about what I was wearing.

  15. emily says:

    ok, i’ve tried to write this comment a few times without success. i have a lot of feelings about this, but may not be as educated as possible on the issue because i didn’t want to read the crazy mumbo-jumbo about how this is “transgendered child propoganda” (eye roll). forgive me if what i say has been addressed previously.

    coming from an advertising/marketing background, i think it’s a savvy move to make jenna such a relatable figure with a darling son. but if i’m honest, the picture did make me pause for a second (when i first received my j.crew email, long before the backlash occurred). it is truly awful that this sweet family photo turned into such a huge debate on how his mom may be brain washing the boy or trying to make him gay. BUT….i do believe it is a little naive of a mother and an entire company to not think that a little boy with neon pink nails (awesome color, by the way :)) might raise some eyebrows.

    i think overall, the fashion industry is a safe haven for differences. but j.crew is not haute couture, and beckett will still have to go to middle school and potentially deal with some really shitty people. why did that have to start for him now? think it’s no secret that children don’t always like gender-typical things, or enjoy gender-typical activities. i think it’s ridiculous to act like that is NOT normal. but my problem (i think) is that just because jenna is a public figure in the fashion industry, that doesn’t mean her son is. in a few years, he may be embarrassed by that picture if his friends see it. of course, he may not be embarrassed at all. but i believe that should be his choice.

    • Jennifer M. says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Emily, my first reaction was “it’s advertising, [almost] nothing in advertising is accidental”. Don’t you think J Crew wanted to be provocative?

      • emily says:

        I’ll agree with that for sure! But provocative at the cost of the boy seems unethical. I guess what I’m trying to say is if Jenna’s son was 15 rather than 5 with those sassy pink nails, I would have zero problem with it. As a mother, I don’t think it’s something to be ashamed of AT ALL, but it might be something to consider keeping private. I don’t know, I’m torn!!! I don’t want to sound intolerant or homophobic, but bullying is a very real problem and whether it’s grumpy old conservatives or self-conscious 13-year-olds, I think a mom should want to protect her child as best she can.

        • Emily says:

          Thanks for bringing this question to your readers, S.! It’s been interesting to read the responses. And I’ll say it again: I love that round wheel on your round belly!

          Emily, I think that you make a very interesting point. I understand your instinctive desire to protect the child involved from negative fall out. Your views on this issue reminded me of an experience I had when my oldest son (now 4) had just turned 2.

          My son has always loved pink. When he turned two, we went to a bike shop to pick out a balance bike for him. Big surprise, he chose the pink one! Though I had never hesitated to buy him pink clothes or jewelry, and was planning to paint his room pink, I had a moment of internal conflict over this purchase. Should we buy him a pink bike? He could, in theory, be riding this bike to kindergarten one day. What if other kids made fun of him? What if he was embarrassed by photos of this bike when he got older?

          I realized that this was a moment that my son and I could both learn from. As an elementary school teacher, I don’t believe that there’s such thing as a “boy color” or a “girl color”. I want my son to know that. I also want him to know a lot of other things about our world that others might disagree with: that men should be able to marry other men; that it’s not right for people in our country to have to live without access to good health care; that it’s not fair for some people to have great schools in their neighborhoods, while other schools struggle to meet children’s basic needs.

          So we bought him a pink bike. He loves it. Two years later, we bought him a used pedal bike for his fourth birthday, and he asked us to paint it purple and orange. Then he added pink and purple streamers on the handlebars. People stop us, oh, about once a month and ask us why his bike is purple. My son is pretty introverted. He certainly doesn’t assert his right to have a pink bike to these folks. He even feels a little uncomfortable about their questions from time to time. (He’ll often wait until we’re alone, then say, “Those people are still learning that boys can like pink, Mom.”) But he goes through his life with a sense of what he feels is right and fair.

          Young children have a keen sense of what is just and unjust. I think that it’s important for parents to — gently — allow children to experience the world, and to talk with trusted adults about what is fair. Someday my son might be teased about his love for pink, or about our family’s political beliefs. I grew up in some very conservative places, where I was sometimes teased for my beliefs. (In middle school in rural Kentucky, I was the only person in my class of 25 students who chose to defend evolution in our evolution vs. creationism debate.) But I’m not going to protect him from those beliefs so that he’ll fit in. I want him to know that he can do what he thinks is right, even when it’s difficult to do so.

          Now, the question of whether it’s ethical to use young children in a marketing campaign is one I don’t want to respond to. I know that I probably wouldn’t make that choice for my children.

    • Laura says:

      My issue with the entire thing had nothing to do with gender issues. My issue was that a child was being used as a marketing ploy. I’m still really surprised that nobody in mass media has seemed to notice that while we’re all busy discussing if it’s okay to put a kid wearing a certain color in a public place, nobody seems to be crying out against using a kid to work toward financial gain for a large business.

      • Shaye says:

        What about child actors? Child models? Kids are used in marketing all the time. There are labor laws that apply, and I doubt that they were abused in this mother-child photo shoot. If this kid actually does love pink – and from the picture he seems to – and wants to be involved with his mom’s work, I dont see how the mother’s choice to put her son in the ad for this sweet, honest touch is materially different from parents of child actors and models. As for the argument regarding exposing the child to ridicule, how many of his peers, or even their parents, are going to remember this ad or even the controversy in 7 or 8 years? I’d be surprised if anyone even realized it was him.

        • Laura says:

          Yeah, I dunno… It’s a hazy issue, because as long as you aren’t forcing the kid to do something outside of her or his comfort zone or outside of labor laws, it’s not really a big deal. And why not let a little boy be involved in his mommy’s work?

          I guess my thought was more that if there was going to be a public outcry about *something* to do with this picture, it made more sense to talk about using kids as models to target adult consumers than it did to go on and on about the color pink. I can’t really wrap my mind around color discrimination or gender fashion issues (if you love it and it covers all your non-public bits, go for it!), so it seemed more important of a question to talk about putting kids in front of cameras in the first place. I think it’s just a matter of my reaction being along the lines of, “WHY are we even talking about this?”

  16. Elise says:

    Thank you for voicing my thoughts on this issue so much more eloquently than I could have. My version involved lots of sarcasm and eyerolling, which don’t tend to be the most effective persausive tatics.

  17. Julia says:

    I recently read somewhere online that Jennifer Lopez paints her son’s nails with nail polish too. She said that she was painting her daughter’s nails and her son requested that his nails be painted too, but in blue. Ok, I found the quote – it was in her new People magazine article: “[Daughter Emme] loves for me to paint her nails…[Son Max] wants to paint his nails too. Because for him, it’s just paint. He’s like, “I want the blue!”

    Also, Gwen Stefani’s son has often been spotted with nail polish on – although I think it was a dark color.

    Is there no backlash there because the nail polish isn’t pink? Or did the news criticizing the JCrew photo not see these other instances?

  18. EM says:

    Kudos on the commenter who called the outcry poorly disguised homophobia.

    The fear of feminization of boys/men just illustrates the negative connotations femininity/WOMEN has/have in our culture. It’s not just that people don’t want boys to “turn” gay”–it’s upholding gender norms and categorical hierarchies of superior:male, inferior:female. And all those who pretend it’s “equal” (except for the pay, hahaha) should really look at how “bad” it is when men step outside the boundary of masculinity in the media (commercials, sitcoms).

    Just as importantly, think about how this is really putting to the test the idea that “so many” Americans are ready to embrace homosexuality/gay marriage. When it’s THE CHILDREN OMG people are often far more restricted and conservative in their thinking. The attitude of “being gay can be fine but keep it away from my baby” shows us just how far we still have to go. When it’s YOUR kid, people are a lot less sensitive to social and civil rights issues.

  19. Frumptastic says:

    My two year old boy has not seen my apply nail polish, probably because that is a rare occasion, but if he did and requested that I paint his nails as well, why not? It makes sense that Jenna’s son would want his nails painted. As you said, his mother is in the fashion industry so of course he wants to be a part of her world! It’s sweet. I saw the photo as more of a tender moment.

    Those in the media who were all up in arms about it need to take a look around the world to see where the real stories are. Just spin the globe people. I’m sure you can come up with something somewhere!

    Oh and finally, I think the criticism of this advertisement and news attention to this only perpetuate the homophobia and hate mongering and bullying in our society. If I recall only a few months back, the media was all for anti-bullying and let’s accept children of all sexual identities. And now they are attacking this mother and child? Pathetic.

  20. Laura says:

    Being someone who doesn’t like to see kids (regardless of their gender) with painted fingernails or toenails, I cringed when I saw this picture a few weeks ago. Why would you do that to any child? I thought. Besides, Beckett’s gender is hard to tell, and I found myself looking at the picture intently, looking for cues, until I finally figured out that he was a boy and not a girl. The picture made me want to pin down gender but did not change my original disapproval of the painted toenails.

    To me, nail polish represents adulthood (and sexuality in some cases), it’s full of foul smelling chemicals, and even though I’m very aware that when a kid requests to have his or her toenails painted just wants to play with something that is around the house and that mom uses, I have a hard time accepting it as such. Forgive me or criticize me for having rigid adult-childhood ideas. Another ingredient to consider into the gender mix?

    Coincidentally, I found a relevant call for papers on my mail today which would welcome a more formal presentation of S’s proposed topic. Academichic folks and followers, take note:

    /F//a//s//h//i//o//n/
    /UCLA’s 13/^/th/ /Annual Queer Studies Conference/
    /October 14-15, 2011/
    *Call for Papers *
    Deadline**May 13, 2011
    UCLA’s LGBTS Program is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for its upcoming Queer Studies Conference featuring presentations by graduate students as well as faculty and advanced undergraduates.
    This year’s conference will explore and exploit issues of fashion, queerly construed. We wish to invite a wide range of questions and panels on subject topics as drag, female masculinities, male femininities, queer making and self-fashioning, cloning and styling, and, of course, the culture and politics of the fashion industry itself. Questions of class, economics, history, ethnicity, race, (im)migration, geography, exploitation, and sublimation are at the forefront of our query. We seek to know what might be a new analytic or interdisciplinary methodology through which to attend to multiple registers of fashion.
    /Keynote Speakers: /
    /Jack Halberstam, Monica Miller, Mignon R. Moore, /
    /Karen Leigh Tongson, and Deborah R. Vargas/
    Closing Performance:
    /“Queerture: A night of rocket science and fashion design” /
    /with artistic director Tania Hammidi/
    Proposals for individual papers should take the form of abstracts; panel proposals should also include both a list of participants and paper abstracts. CVs must accompany all abstracts. Submissions from undergraduates should be accompanied by a brief letter from a faculty member highlighting the strengths of both the student and the student’s proposal.
    Deadline for abstracts and CVs: May 13, 2011
    *Send abstracts and CVs to **lgbts@humnet.ucla.edu*
    *Contact: Catharine McGraw (310) 206-1145 & lgbts@humnet.ucla.edu*

  21. Anna says:

    Here’s my comment. The media is bored. And they’re going to mock or tear apart anything that general society doesn’t agree with. Justin Bieber publicly comments that he chooses to remain a virgin until marriage? He got torn down. Why do you think that Lady Gaga is so famous? The media can’t refrain from tearing apart anything that’s even slightly different from mainstream. Sure she looks crazy sometimes, but that’s her choice. I don’t understand where society gets off thinking that they can tear people apart for personal choice!
    The J. Crew ad is not an exception. Good for J. Crew refusing to comment because the ad shouldn’t have even been an issue in the first place. It’s like J.Crew, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga are the first people out there not abiding by society’s general rules!! Trust me, they’re not ringleaders. There are hundreds of thousands of people EVERY SINGLE DAY, doing what these famous people are doing. The world continues to turn.

  22. My little girls painted their father’s toenails pink one Saturday. It didn’t seem to damage his masculinity, and no one would know better than I! :)

  23. Dana says:

    First, Wow. Just, wow. I have a 4 year old nephew and I have totally painted his nails before. He’s asked me to do it. He has a sister and when I would paint her nails he would beg me to do his. His mother has been pretty bad about the whole thing saying I can only paint them “boy” colors (clear) and he gets pretty upset. I do too. I can’t understand wrapping gender in a box like that. How is painting your nails if you are a guy wrong? I get sick of the super conservative agenda. I have no problem with a guy hating pink nail-polish just as much as I have no problem with a guy liking it. What, exactly, are they protecting?

    Second, I love the top and the bike. My husband and I are looking for cheap (we don’t have very much to spend) bikes that we can ride around town. We live in a very hilly area but really want something with a vintage aesthetic. Any suggestions?

    • academichic says:

      Dana -

      to respond to your bike comment: While I love my Raleigh Sports (pictured here), it’s not an ideal hillls bike. But I also have a vintage Peugeot mixte from the 1970s (also a Craigslist find) and I think that bike would do great in a hilly place. It’s faster because of it’s lighter frame, more leaned forward position while riding, and thinner tires. I have a much easier time on hills with it and I know that Meli, a bike blogger in San Francisco, tackles some killer hills daily with a similar mixte bike.

      I recently wrote a bit more about my experiences with owning vintage bikes here and I would say that if you’re looking for a vintage bike that can do well in a hilly area, you should look for ‘mixte’ frame cycles that have that more sporty geometry.

      Hope that helps! Good luck with your search!

  24. rebecca says:

    the picture of the little boy is great! i have two older sister and a younger brother. my sisters and i always dressed my brother in our dresses and painted his nails. he even received handy downs from all of us. we never went as far as sending him to school in a dress but he had a pink snowsuit he would wear! he grew up to be a great man and doing all the “girly” things with us did not change the person he is. oh, and he played with barbie dolls. and he is still grew up to be a man.

  25. Stephanie says:

    I think that a lot of things should be more gender neutral, because otherwise we run the risk of becoming (are?) a sexist society. But at the same time, why do we let girls play baseball (a traditionally men-dominated sport), but balk at the idea of a boy learning ballet? (I have an opinion on that, but trying to explain it, it would just come out all crazy and confusing!) Just an interesting thought. Apparently, gender neutrality only goes one way.

    • Eleanorjane says:

      I agree with your comment about gender neutrality only going one way. I think it’s really sad that women can usually (with an effort) do most typically masculine things but men are bound by such rigid rules.

      My husband bemoans the lack of reasonably priced, interesting clothes for men. They’re all pretty much the same stuff that men have been wearing for the last 40 years! He’d quite like to be a dandy in a bit of velvet and ruffles… (but he doesn’t care enough to spend heaps of money or heaps of time thrifting and getting clothes adjusted etc).

  26. i saw a lot of these articles, too. what was interesting was i read a few about how the picture had caused controversy, but i didn’t see much of the controversy.
    my grandmother used to paint my dad’s pinkie nails when she painted his sister’s nails, and i think little boys in nail polish are adorable.
    on another note, i love this bike shirt!!

  27. notacomputeruser says:

    I just love the fact that some people assume that something as complicated and multifaceted as gender could be impacted by the colour of nail varnish.

  28. Erin says:

    When I was little, i would sit in the bathroom with my dad while he shaved. He would put shaving lotion on me and pretend to shave me. Did this turn me gay? No, I still “managed” to stay straight! It was a way for me to be close with my dad.

    I also had 3 older brothers and my mom always tried to get me to wear their clothes. Was it yet another ploy to turn me gay? No, she saved money being able to hand down the clothes from one child to another, and didn’t want to have to go and buy new clothes for a girl! Although I would usually pitch a fit and not let her dress me in my brothers’ clothes….

    My point is – these close-minded individuals need to realize people can’t be “turned” one way or another. And no matter what their sexuality is, it shouldn’t matter. Gay does not equal bad. Judging and condemning a child does.

  29. Erin says:

    I totally agree w/ poster Laura. I do not like nail polish on children regardless of gender. I think kids should be kids and nail polish and make-up and all that can come later. (Much later if I have any say in it w/ my own daughter) I do not paint my daughter’s nails and wouldn’t paint a son’s nails either b/c I don’t like it on children (I agree about the chemicals from the polish and from the polish remover).

    A friend of mine indulged her 7 yr old son’s request to wear purple eye shadow b/c he wanted to look like a rock star. The school called her and asked if it was to cover up a black eye! Oops! Didn’t see that one coming! I wonder if her child had been a girl if they would have called and asked?

    My sisters-in-law refuse to allow their sons to have anything (clothes, toys, books, movies etc) that are too “girly” or in “girl colors.” They say that if boys play w/ girl stuff or pink/purple stuff it will turn them gay. Therefore, my nieces are not allowed to have anything too girly in case one of their brothers picks it up and dares to play w/ it (or watch it etc). One sister-in-law is terribly worried that her son’s friend will be gay b/c his mommy lets his hair grow a little long and allowed him to wear a Winnie-the-Pooh shirt that had purple on it. Gifts get taken back (or re-wrapped) if they are deemed “girly.” My sisters-in-law are nut cases.

    And like poster AJ, when I found out I was having a girl both my husband and I said we didn’t want an abundance of pink stuff. It’s just not our top color choice.

  30. Sara says:

    I saw the Daily Show piece on this, it was quite funny, but the things being said on Fox (etc) were downright disturbing! It’s so strange to me how we force our stereotypes and hatred onto children, who on their own are just these little balls of acceptance! They don’t think pink is a girl’s color unless WE make them think that, it’s a shame. And apparently wearing pink makes you like men. Ridiculous!!

  31. First off I was not offended by the pink nail polish but I was a little offended at the outcry. It is a little boy!! Little boys and little girls try different things based on what they see in the world.

    My little brother is 9 and he is the youngest of 3 older sisters and is the only boy. He used to watch me put on makeup and want me to put the fluffy powder brush on his face. He would try on our high heels and laugh. He even snuck my sister’s nail polish and painted one of his toenails red last summer (much to our amusement). He was just wanting to do what his older sisters were doing. He is actually very traditionally masculine: enjoys sports, getting dirty, and being rough and tumble. I agree that this little boy was probably just trying to fit in with his moms’ world and who cares if he does like pink?! Definitely could push the buttons of alot of people out there though…

  32. Nadine says:

    I’m outside the States, so I don’t think this is controversial at all (oh, you wacky Americans!). Both my sons loved painting their own nails when they were this boy’s age. No big deal. If they wanted to paint their nails now or even as adults – who the hell cares?

  33. LE says:

    In addition to the homophobia and misogyny expressed in the outrage (pink and girlishness = demeaning and perverse), I have a problem with people judging children’s behavior by adult standards. Children do not think and behave like miniature adults. They have their own developmentally appropriate ways of viewing and interacting with the world. Several commenters have pointed out that part of childhood is imitating your parents, and wanting to participate in their actions; also, children as young as four do not understand that gender is permanent and often little girls want to grow up to be daddies, or little boys want to grow up to be mommies. What does such behavior mean? Why, it means that children are acting and thinking like children. THE. END.

    The other issue seems to be whether it is appropriate for a parent to let their child 1) engage in “girly” behavior when the child is a boy (and perhaps make their boy a target of bullies) and 2) use chemical products intended for adults which signal “pretty” or “sexy.” People might vary in their opinions but at the end of the day it is a parenting choice. I am SO SO tired of hearing judgment and criticism (often un- or under-informed) of parenting choices. Choices which maybe one doesn’t agree with but which are not the end of the world. Having his toenails painted pink may or may not be damaging to a child in some way, but you know what IS damaging? Hearing his mother denigrated.

    I frequently tell my daughter that other people have different ideas than her– and she can’t choose for them what they want to do– and that is what makes the world more interesting.

  34. Natalie says:

    I went to one of those big makeup stores looking for something to patch a badly broken nail. My 5 yr. old son wanted to tag along, and gave me a running commentary on which polish colors he liked (most of them). He then begged me to buy a set of tiny bottles that had a sparkly blue, a silver and a dark pink. I liked the colors too, so I did!

    After his shower, he said he wanted his the nails on one foot painted pink and the other ones blue, and he wanted to paint mine all silver. My husband thought this was hilarious! We don’t have a tv, so I was completely unaware of the “controversy” until my sister said she had just seen Jon Stewart comment on the Fox brouhaha.

    Anyway, he loves his toenails! He had been asking why I paint mine in the summer, and I said it was for decoration and I liked the colors, so it would make sense if he thought of his new shiny nails the same way. The best part is we went to a birthday party for a classmate, and at least half of the other little boys had toenail polish!

  35. The problem is not now and has never been that children engage in what is sometimes called “non-normative” behavior. The problem is with adults panicking about their behavior, making an issue out of what is essentially children learning about their selves and their world. What will happen when this kid goes to school and kids see his pink nails and they freak out? Well, he’ll deal with it; that picture shows a truly bonded, loving mother-son relationship, so certainly he and his mom can work through any issues that arise from any potential bullies. But any bullies would only be parroting what they’d learned from their parents. If no parent made what color a kid wears an issue, no kid would.

  36. Sara says:

    A friend (and former J. Crew coworker) posted this story on my facebook. How silly people are! He’s obviously just having fun with his mom! I babysat all the time in high school, and I very distinctly remember one of the families I babysat for, and I was painting the 10 year old girl’s toe nails blue. Her younger brother (5 yrs old) wanted his toes painted too, and I looked to his mom to see if she was cool with this: “Sure, why not? He’s just a kid, if he wants his toes painted blue, who cares?” My thoughts exactly.

    I dunno, I worked at J Crew for two years after college, and I highly doubt they’re trying to push a transgendered agenda. All I can see, after working there, is that in their advertising and magazines they really like those subtle, quirky, ironic touches. Like a satin flower ribbon belt being tied into a bride’s hair, or tied like a men’s tie on a little girl. And they love putting men’s/boy’s shirts on their women/girl models, so i’m totally not surprised that they’d do something sort of “ironic” as painting a little boy’s toes hot pink.

  37. Kate says:

    I have no issue with the photo, but I feel like this whole “controversy” has been concocted. “hey, this pic ought to get people talking.”. “Hey, some idiot at Fox said something idiotic. Let’s jump all over this do we can all pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves over how open-minded we are.”

  38. AY says:

    Have not read all the comments, however I have painted the toenails and selected fingernails of my 2 sons, usually alighter color. They have also tried the grey shatter!

    My 3 yo recently wanted pink, so he picked OPI Orchid you not for all his fingers and toes just a few weeks back. Everyone said that Mommy wanted a daughter. I was surprised by that response as it is was his choice or color and his demanding of nail polis and wanting to do something with me.

  39. deanna says:

    what i find interesting about this whole “controversy” is not the gender issues, nor the fact that a little boy’s toenails are painted pink. (i think the whole issue is basically fabricated for a slow news day. do people really think this kid is going to be gay because his toenails were painted pink when he was 3? really? that’s ridiculous. the media, be it liberal, “mainstream” or conservative is ridiculous on all accounts.)

    what worries me is…why is the kid in the catalog in the first place? is he being used for marketing purposes inappropriately? what does jenna lyons’ kid have to do with selling clothes to the masses such as myself? i must admit that it’s a rare day that goes by that i’m not wearing at least one article of clothing from jcrew. i get their marketing concept, and they’re marketing jenna lyons pretty brilliantly. heck, i buy into it! (the woman has a great sense of style!) i’d just rather them keep the kid out of it…

  40. Jiksa says:

    Amen! Thank you for posting this.

  41. Amber says:

    I would definately consider myself a social conservative, but seriously!? I want to know who in the heck they talked to for this article!? And do they seriously belive all that stuff they spouted off about him needing therapy because of it? I’m pretty sure the kid isn’t scarred for life because of a little pink nail polish. Geeze!

  42. Libby says:

    Well, sure J Crew would exploit a child to push their liberal agenda. Why not?

    Who cares if a little boy wants to wear nail polish? But there’s no reason to a child’s naivete to sell threads to adults. Why make his sexuality an issue for public consumption? The pictures of him with pink nails aren’t going to go away and when he’s an awkward preteen this is likely to make life more difficult, rather than less.

    Just another case of liberals using their kids as fashion accessories and worse.

  43. Libby says:

    Sorry, I left out a word. Should have said “…there’s no reason to USE a child’s naivete…”

  44. Frenchy says:

    Little boys will always want to wear nail polish and play with girl purses. it doesn’t make them gay.
    I am sick of the obsession with making little kids stand for a sexual purpose. It is sick. let kids be kids.
    All those brands are just trying to make money and get attention.

  45. Ruth says:

    S.: I LOVE the bike shirt. And I love the fact that you have two, so you can celebrate your love of bikes all the time! If you’re worried about stretching but still want to indulge in other beloved t-shirts while preggers, there’s a really simply DIY trick for that. Rip (i.e. with a seam ripper, don’t actually rip) the bottom 4 or 5 inches (or more) of the bottom of each side seam and insert matching isoceles triangles with the longest side along the seam to the front of the shirt and the second longest side along the back seam to give the sides a little more material and give. (Wish I could draw a picture, soo much harder to describe in words.)

    Regarding the toenail polish outcry: I’d say the fuss about classmates finding the photo in ten years and torturing/bullying him is a red herring. Any of us who have been through middle school and high school know that kids were tormented for not wearing nail polish, for having funny names or really normal names, for liking the wrong subjects, for not liking the right subjects, for liking anything at all, for having hair, for not having hair, for being too skinny, for having “chubby knees,” for being too smart, or not being smart enough and a million other stupid reasons. Better ask where those imaginary school mates have learned to use small details about a person to pick at and torment them.

    Actually, the phenomenon of teen and preteen bullying reminds me a lot of this kerfuffle over toenail polish. Did any of you ever crash against the invisible ‘x’ means you’re gay rules growing up? “Don’t wear a purple shirt on Thursdays; it means you’re gay.” “Don’t be a boy with an earring on the right side/a boy with an earring on the left side/a girl with black high tops/a boy with purple on his shirt/a girl in shorts on ‘skirt day’.” I can’t see much difference between these rules made up by third-graders and the way that certain commentators in media outlets have ripped into this young boy–except, of course, that third-graders say these things to each others’ faces and have similar amounts of cultural power.

    This entire controversy is simply old-fashioned gender bullying writ large… and, as recent studies have shown, it can have terrible consequence for *all* teens: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110418/ap_on_he_me/us_med_gay_teens_suicide

  46. Elizabeth Louros says:

    I have grown sons and daughters. When my kids were little they loved playing with a huge basket of dress up clothes- princess dresses, petticoats, knight costumes, cowboy chaps/vests etc. My sons loved dressing up in all of it and doing little performances. When they got to be about five and went to school they began playing with only the more “male costumes”. I think it was the influence of other boys in the neighborhood. Now I have a three year old grandson. He loves my purple toenails and I have thought about bringing out the nail polish to do his. But, his dad, my son in law, would disapprove and I don’t want to upset him.

  47. Christine says:

    Before my life as a graduate student began, I worked part-time as a teaching assistant in a Montessori pre-school/kindergarten classroom for most of my high school and undergrad years. I have seen many little boys wearing nail polish on toes or fingers over the years. The only time we have asked the parents to remove the nail polish is when it was distracting other children from working. Actually, we usually had more trouble with little girls who came in with painted nails because they were more apt to disrupt other childrens’ work because they want to show off their nails.

    My only objection to painting a child’s nails, boy or girl, is just exposing them to the chemicals that are in the polish and remover. Especially for kids below the age of 5, because they are more apt to put their fingers in their mouth. But I’m a scientist, I’d worry more about the toxicity of products than whether my kid will end up transgendered or not.

  48. Karen says:

    I always find it personally amusing when people grumble about the gender rolls of young children. My academic background is in historic fashion, and I imagine that very few people know that up until the 20th century little boys and girls were dressed alike; all in dresses and skirts until at least after your toddler years, sometimes later. And blue vs. pink? Come on! Pink used to be considered the masculine color because it was a derivative of red and stood for strength and power, and blue was the feminine pale and demure color. Again, not until after the start of the 20th century did pink=girl and blue=boy. How many of us would find a picture of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers (that epitome of masculinity in our childhood minds) wearing dresses as young boys at the beginning of the century? The answer is practically all of us if we just took the time to look! I think the fact that a “discussion” has even started because of the simple, charming photograph, is evidence of how much our society truly does not understand as far as it’s history (and science, and psychology…pink nail polish will not change the innate sensibilities of the little boy sporting it).

  49. Margaret says:

    Funny, I was painting my own toes pink last week and my two and a half year old son came up and said ‘mama, paint my toes. peeeeeaase!’. So I did. The next day, we went out to run some errands and he wore flip flops. While he was riding in the cart at Target, his little pink toes got several stares and weird looks. I didn’t think anything about it. People read too much in to situations like this. I have my undergrad in child development and we learned that kids imitate. He wanted pink toes like his mom. He also wants to wear his hat when his dad is wearing a hat. When little boys want to play dress up and choose to dress up as a princess, it’s no different than them wanting to dress up like a fireman. To them, either way, they are dressing up as something they are not (which is what pretend play is all about). When adults try to read in to these actions, it can really do damage–much more damage than painting a little boy’s toes pink.

    BTW, I LOVE your maternity posts. I’m 18 weeks now and have been so inspired by your posts.

  50. sara says:

    I don’t understand the people who take issue with the little boy being used as a marketing tool by J.Crew. J.Crew uses child models all the time…what’s the difference? They have a line of childrens clothes, they are marketing to moms by using kids in their advertising. I also don’t buy the argument that it’s not about the pink nail polish, but about trying to ‘protect’ him from bullies. I don’t think children should be discouraged from being different so that they won’t get bullied. Instead they need to be taught how to handle people who aren’t nice…a skill that will be important as they navigate through life not afraid to be themselves.

    • Laura says:

      I didn’t mean my question to suggest I condemn JCrew (or any other company) from using child models (as long as they do so ethically). It was more a question of trying to figure out what priorities were present in discussions from places like Fox News where ‘experts’ were discussing the future psychological damage of kids from nail polish. If we’re that concerned that what a child is wearing ONCE will scar them forever, then shouldn’t we be concerned about child models in general? If we’re not concerned about broader implications, then we’re making a big deal about something that we’re clearly over-thinking on an irrelevant level.

      Basically aiming for more of a hypothetical “Dear Fox News, your ‘facts’ from your ‘experts’ don’t hold up, Love, me” question than a condemnation.

  51. Lisa says:

    I follow this blog all the time but haven’t posted before. This topic has me so intrigued, though!

    My sister is a stay-at-home mom with two little boys. Her 2year old son loves to imitate her by playing with her make up brushes and hair tools. I don’t think it means anything more than he wants to be like his mom. He also loves “boy” things and playing rough with his dad. My nephew also recently picked princess favors for his birthday party. He has no idea that it’s a “girl” thing, just that he likes the colors because they are bright.

    I think people put way too much emphasis on this kind of thing. Like was posted, if it was a girl in a baseball hat and jersey there would be no big controversary. My husband and I were at a Spring training game last year, and a little girl put nail polish on him then….no one thought anything of that besides how sweet he was!

  52. the spanish lady says:

    Hi S!

    I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. I have two nieces, a boy and a girl. She loves making bracelets and he loves wearing them. So every time they come home we spent some time like this. And people say to me, why you make him wear bracelets? do you want him to become gay? It is a supposed-to-be funny comment but it makes me really angry. I have had some rough arguments with my family about that and I am really happy to see that I am not the only one who thinks that children only want to play and to do as their loved ones do (I usually wear statement jewelery). As always, congratulations for your post.

  53. [...] I’d like to thank you all for chiming in with such great comments and points of discussion on my post from Monday. I raised the issue of the media outcry regarding the pink-toenailed J.Crew boy and so many of you [...]

  54. m says:

    I didn’t see this ad, but I did see a great article in the NTTimes a few weeks ago that had a picture of a little boy with painted finger nails. The article was about kids taking wood working classes. They had a slide show of kids working with saws, hammers, nails etc. One little boy, who appeared in the final 10-15 slides had painted nails.

    I am all for kids experimenting with these things and see nothing wrong with a little boy painting his nails (I see it all the time), but was surprised no one cleaned his hands before the photo shoot. My thinking was that it is great we have come so far in our society that his parents, the photographer, and the director of the shoot did not take the polish off!

    Note, his painted nails accompany a SWAT outfit.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/garden/31kids.html

  55. Terri says:

    I’m generally against putting any sort of chemical on a child’s absorbent skin. The gender doesn’t matter.

  56. Sara Rose says:

    Sigh. Really, sigh. I have naturally curly hair and I wear it in a self-cut pixie (mostly because I live in the land of straight hair and NOBODY gets how to deal with curls, so I taught myself). My daughter loves blue- it would be her favorite color, and also wore her hair in a pixie cut (she chose it) for a very long time. She’s gone through phases where she says she ‘likes’ girls, she’s gone through phases where she says she ‘likes’ boys. She’s gotten teased a few times about some of this. I sat her down one day because she’d been teased for saying that at school, and said “In the end, it doesn’t matter if you like boys, girls, or both. It doesn’t matter that you like your hair short or that you love the color blue. These are things that make you happy and that matters much more than what anybody else has to say. All mommy and daddy EVER want for you and your brother are to be happy with yourselves. Your life isn’t bout pleasing others, it’s about living in a way that is good and feels right to you. People say mean things because they’re scared or just plain mean and it’s wrong. You don’t have to feel sad because of someone else. You are perfect because you’re you.” As a mother, it’s my job to teach my kids to fearlessly pursue what makes them happy (albeit, I’d prefer that to not be an ax murderer.)

    My son is 2. He loves pink, he can’t et enough of Disney princess movies, and often tries on his sisters clothes, plays with her dolls, whatever. WHO CARES? Does this mean he’s going to turn out homosexual or transexual? I don’t care. But I do care that other children not be allowed to bully. The media is Americas biggest bully, fleshing and hashing out what we ‘should or shouldn’t’ want to be. Has my son wanted his toenails painted when my daughter does. Yup. Does this mean he’s going to grow up damaged? Nope.

    J.Crew is making a small but refreshing statement. Let your kids be who they want to be and cherish them for that. Spend time with them doing things they adore doing. Raise them fearlessly. The media lash out made me fairly bitter. I grew up in a small town that regularly voiced its hatred of ‘different’. Two of my lifelong friends come from there and both are homosexual. I’m proud to say one is even married to her wife. I may be among the few, but I firmly believe that sexuality is built into our biology, and can’t be ‘programmed’ out but it can be fear-mongered into hiding.

    I would love it if our media stopped caring so much about sexualization and started caring about teaching the ideas of self respect, happiness, and letting people just be. This will never happen. Fear is the one thing the media has going for itself and it’s not about to let that go any time soon.

  57. Kathleen says:

    When my son, now 27, was six years old he asked for a Barbie doll. I have to admit I was taken aback, since all his play preferences were what we consider “boy”. He has a twin brother who wasn’t interested and no other siblings at the time. Taking a deep breath, and staying very neutral, I asked him why he wanted a Barbie, and he told me (I’ll never forget this), “Because she is so beautiful”. I bought him a Barbie and a Ken, but he never much played with them. He grew up just fine, is happily married to a woman who is beautiful both inside and out, and still loves beautiful things.

  58. Licia says:

    While I appreciate the strong movement against bullying, and I fully support it both in spirit and with my own participation in anti-bullying activities, I also struggle with how the term “bullying” is used. While there are kids who tease and taunt in general, a lot of the bullying that goes on is really an expression of sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism and other isms. I feel that the term bullying can somewhat lessen what is really going on. It’s not nice to be called a bully, but it’s definitely worse to be called racist. The label bully just brings up fewer red flags. After all, when people freak out about a boy wearing pink polish, they are not freaking out about the act of painting toenails itself, but rather they are saying: “you can turn your child gay” and”gay is not a good thing for your child to be”.

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