Gay Dad Pens Toys R Us
A gay dad has penned an open letter to Toys R Us, and the beginning of the letter is interesting because he talks about gender roles, especially with regard to the heteronormative traditional roles straight men and women have played in society. In other words, we are taught straight dads go to work in the morning so they can bring home the bacon. Straight moms stay home and take care of the house and do mom things. And even if moms don't stay home and take care of the house, straight moms and dads provide something that two gay dads can't provide to children. Then he gets into studies that disprove all this nonsense.
The main focus of the letter is that companies like Toys R Us promote gender politics, and most of us don't even realize it. Think fast food restaurants that have toys for kids: there's a boys toy and a girls toy. They even ask you which one you want. I know this because Tony and I have many nieces and nephews. And I've always been put off when they ask me that question.
Mega conglomerates like Toys R Us are making sure that it won’t be a “woman’s world” for a long long time. This SHOULD be a woman’s world. Women make up almost 51% of the United States population but in store marketing clearly tell little girls where their world is. It is a pink land that exists in between the easy-bake-oven kitchen and the frivolous glitzy fashion world, and no where else. It is far from a woman’s, or future woman’s world, if we define that world as one of choice and pursuit of individual skills, aptitudes and talents.
He makes points about the girls' section being frilly and pink, and the boys' section being rough and rugged. He also links to an organization called Let Toys Be Toys, which is an organization in the UK that has actually gotten Toys R Us to just put toys out on the shelves as they are, without gender classification, so kids can choose what they want instead of what we tell them to choose.
You can read the message in full here. It's an interesting piece for anyone who has ever wondered when their little boy told them he wanted to learn to cook instead of shoot guns or play football.
Straight Guys Avoid Gay Guys
I have no links to this part of the post. The open letter above reminds me of some of the subtle unconscious forms of discrimination I face daily as an openly gay man. For example, I have a few straight male "friends" I've met online over the years and they've always been friendly and very accepting in private. However, when it comes to interacting with them on social media in public they always go blank. They interact with all of their straight buds and women friends, but when the gay guy makes a comment on facebook they go dead silent as if he doesn't even exist. And the gay guy who comments doesn't even have to do or say anything flamboyant or over the top. He could just write a nice sentence that has no hidden meanings, and he's still ignored, really, as if he doesn't even exist. And that's because the straight guy doesn't want his straight buds and women friends to know he's associated with the gay guy. Trust me, it happens all the time and gay people are always sensitive to that brand of discrimination.
I know a straight male blogger who had a highly successful blog going for a while. It was even mentioned on Huff Po and a few other mainstream publications. He's a very articulate straight man who takes pride in his home, his car, and his property. He's attractive, works out, and has a killer body he's not shy about showing off in public on social media. But, he's about thirty and he's still single. I commented a few times on his blog to offer a few positive remarks about what he's doing and he was polite, but kept his distance. And then a few other people commented, offhandedly in a harmless way, that he keeps such a great house and is so articulate he could be gay. I watched this closely to see his reaction when his gender role was challenged. It was obvious he wasn't pleased, and he defended himself by slamming stereotypes. He was spot on correct about the stereotypes, however, he eventually shuttered the blog with a very weak excuse.
So this mind set isn't just something that happens with Toys R Us, where the straight male is supposed to be the big tough guy and shun everything pink. It begins with places like Toys R Us, in childhood, and continues for the rest of our lives. And believe me, I don't think the straight men I talked about in this post are by any means anti-gay. They really are great guys who all support gay rights. They just don't want any of their straight friends to know they could possibly be *too* friendly with the gay guy. That would give the wrong impression, and challenge everything they've been taught to believe. It would make them look bad. I actually have to think before I comment: I know where I'm not wanted and I don't want to cross the lines.
Drag Queens as Role Models
In keeping with the theme of gender classification, this next article deals with a mom who would rather have her daughters look up to drag queens as role models than Disney princesses. I can almost hear the cringing from the straight men I know online that I mentioned above who go blank with gay men who aren't even slightly effeminate.
In this article, Disney princesses make this mom cringe, but drag queens give her a sense of hope for her daughters. It's one of the smartest pieces I've read in years.
When it comes down to it, I respect drag queens. They are artists. They are able to conceptualize an idea and transform themselves -- without the help of magic, I might add. They are risk takers. They are punk. But Disney princesses? They are a man-made franchise created to sell cheaply made shit to our daughters. They are a perpetuation of the stereotype of the weak, dumb woman who obediently waits for a man to come along and make her valuable. Between the two I'll always promote the big-wigged man crooning "I'm Every Woman." Werq.
You can read more here.
As a side note, I have known a few drag queens personally and I've always found them to be some of the toughest most determined people within the LGBT community.
Photo attribution can be found here.