My boy wants to be Rapunzel

Actually BabyBoy doesn’t yet know who Rapunzel is. This is a story of a friend’s little boy, as told by her:

“So, the kids had to dress up for school. Friend’sSon, 3 years old, wanted to go as a princess, Rapunzel to be exact. There was no way Friend’sHusband was having that. In the end he bargained with Friend’sSon to go as Spider-Man.”

Now, if Friend’sDaughter had wanted to go as a pirate, or a firefighter, or one of the strange trees from Lord of the Rings, it would have been fairly straightforward. In the West, no-one raises an eyebrow when a girl wears trousers. But our line in the sand seems to currently be when boys wear skirts or dresses (cultural items such as kilts aside). That is a no-no.

However, we hear a lot about children being free to explore. To use their imagination. Parents are exhorted not to place stereotypical limits on their children.

At what point, though, does the freedom to explore stop? If girls can wear trousers, why can’t boys wear dresses? If no-one bats an eye when a girl asks for her face to be painted with a spider, why do we frown when a boy asks for sparkles and flowers?

In some ways, there actually seems to be more hard limits on boys than girls. Yes, there is a still a way to go; for example, there may be less women than men in science, but few would really question the acceptability of a female chemist.

I’m not saying that boys should start wearing dresses. But I’m pointing out that while girls can appropriate male attire, and (on a longer-term basis) are often encouraged to enter ‘male’ industries, this does not happen to boys. The very same people who encourage girls to branch out, balk at encouraging boys to cross over onto the ‘female’ side.

It’s not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. But it is interesting.

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