This is what comes of sexualizing little children

There is a post zooming around the liberal side of the internet, in which a mom says her son is gay . . . no, he’s not . . . yes, he is . . . who really cares?  The genesis for this post was the fact that her 5 year old son wanted to be one of the girl characters in Scooby Doo.  She let him, and some women at the preschool got upset that she’d let him dress up as a girl.  The blogging mom gets the ultimate point right, which is why in the heck are people getting fussed about what a 5 year old wears for Halloween?

Where the post irritates me, and it’s not the blogging mom’s fault at all, because her bottom line is correct, is the title — “My son is gay” — and this paragraph:

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less.

Here’s where the post gets me:  Why are we talking about the whole gay thing when the subject of our talk is a 5 year old?  I mean, I agree that if my teen or adult child is gay (or lesbian), I will love and support that child regardless.  And I totally agree with the mom (who sounds smart and loving) that cross-dressing 5 year olds, unless they live in a fetish household and are forced to cross dress 24/7, are not at risk of turning into homosexuals.  What I don’t agree with is trying to categorize little kids as gay or straight.

I admit that this is a bee in my bonnet.  Over the course of my medium long life, I’ve known totally “masculine” boys who grew up to become gay, totally “masculine” boys who grew up to become straight, totally “feminine” girls who were ultimately lesbians, and totally “feminine” girls who were straight.  The same holds true for “feminine” boys and “masculine” girls.  People’s sexuality may be innate, but their childhood behavior, unless it’s totally outside any known norms, is, at best, a most inaccurate indicator of the path they’ll choose in life.  And yet I’ve known people to say of their 3 or 4 year old children, “Well, I think he/she is gay/lesbian.”  They may be right, but why are they thinking of such a little child in sexual terms?

Clearly, I’m getting to a larger issue here, which is the way we sexualize children in our culture.  Recall the recent hoo-ha about the seven year old set doing a raunchy dance in stripper clothes.  Certainly every Halloween, somewhere there is an article righteously upset about the hooker costumes offered to the small fry.

Also, think about what “growing up” means nowadays.  Miley Cyrus came to fame as the “clean” pop star whom parents could allow their little girls to watch.  Now she’s grown up (she’s 17) and gone sleazy.  In the old days, “growing up” meant becoming sophisticated or, perhaps, responsible.  Someone who sang little girl songs might have moved to jazz.  Now “growing up” means that kids — at least, famous kids — move to nakedness and public sex.

Anyway, I’m kind of running out of steam and time here.  I agree with the mom whose post is linking that we should love and support our children no matter what path they chose (as long as they live an honorable life, of course), but I just hate the whole notion of a culture that sees us even thinking of 5 year olds in terms of their ultimate sexual choices.

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  • Leah

    When my son was five he went to a girls birthday party. One of the activities was dress up, next thing I know, he’s dressed like a bride. Some of the mothers look at me strangely, I’m like, it’s play what’s your problem.
    He happens to be a sensitive kid and shows more empathy to others than either of his older brothers ever did.
    Fast forward 11 years – he comes out to us as being gay. So no, dressing as a girl didn’t ‘make him gay’. But I’d like to hear from that mom in about 15 years – cuz there is a very good chance that her son is gay.
    The reaction of the other moms was awful and uncalled for. But the combination of wanting to be a girl on Halloween and being very very sensitive to the reactions, yeah, that raises a red flag in my mind.
    I doubt this kid has any clue at this stage, he’s only 5 years old, but another thing my son told me later. When  he was 4 or 5 we had a teenage boy come babysit. It was only in retrospect that my son realized that the fact that he really liked that guy was probably his first crush.
    It’s not about being a sexual person at 5, it’s not like every boy who dresses as a girl on Halloween is gay, but I think that mom might be sensing something. Probably a good thing, it’s never easy when your kid comes out to you as gay – takes time to process – if her son does come out as gay in the future, I hope she remembers this.

  • 11B40

    Greetings:
     
    1)  I think one aspect to consider is cultural morés.  In our culture, most attire has a proper gender and cross-dressing, if that’s what it is seen as, can provoke a defensive response is support of the overall morés.  When I took my solitary sociology course in college, circa MCMLXV, subjects like “morés” and “ethnocentrism” were still being accepted as having intellectual validity.  The triumph of Progressivism has cast then into the political correctness bin from which little is either rescued or rehabilitated.
     
    2)  Another aspect could be a subliminal fear of the homosexual propaganda embedded in our current public education systems.  If parents are even subliminally upset by what they foresee as their child’s future, a negative response could easily be forthcoming.  Back in the Bronx of my youth, homosexual teachers were frowned upon lest they use their status and powers to proselytize their students.  Obviously, that tree has come to its fruition.
     
    3)  As to the “sexualization” of children, I’ll assume you are referring to females as I’m not currently aware of its impact on male children.  Again along the “morés” line, there still seems to be a fair amount of reaction against it.  But as we continue to wind our way through an age wherein limitations on personal behavior are categorized as “oppression”, many previously unacceptable activities will be quietly ignored as deviancy is revised downward.
     
     

  • 11B40

    Greetings:
     
    If I may have one more bite at your apple:
     
    4)  As humans, most of our early learning comes from observing and trying to emulate what we see going on around us, role-modeling, I guess, being the current term of art.  In terms of the child, the cultural “morés” are those of his immediate family, perhaps less so in these days of burgeoning universal childcare, but still, far and away, the primary influences on early behavior come from the primary group, the family.  I would argue that probably every single living boy child has at some time put on his mother’s or his sister’s clothes as some kind of experimental adventure just as every boy child has probably pulled the wings off a fly.  Just as pulling the wings off flies doesn’t correlate very well with emerging mass-murderers, I find it hard to believe that “cross-dressing” at five years of age is a precursor to future sexual deviance.  I kind of missed the whole “Scooby Doo” thing, but I’d be will to bet that the girl characters are the smart ones, so maybe the kid is struggling with his need to reject that whole Stupid White Guy thing that our now oppressive but politically correct society is imposing upon him.  Maybe, he’s a closet intellectual.

  • Charles Martel

    I agree with 11B40 that dressing up as a girl at age 5 hardly sets a boy on the road to homosexuality. I used to play with a doll I named Larry (in honor of my slightly younger cousin) around that age. Unfortunately, in the course of hard play with my older brother, Larry’s head became disconnected from his body. The accident was a godsend since I subsequently never had to worry what to dress him up in.

    I emerged from my Larry Phase unscathed and with no romantic attractions to males—whether or not they had bodies. The dress-up just isn’t a big deal. If the boy was doing it or becoming distracted by it for months or years on end, then I’d worry. (Still, of course, you love your kid, although loving him is one thing and accepting a sexual orientation that comes with all sort of bad pyschological and physical freight is another.)

    Speaking of gay New York teachers, my high school Latin teacher, Mr. Miller, hailed from Queens and was as queer as a coherent Paul Krugman diatribe. Skinny guy in his 40s who lived with his mother and had a pronounced Adam’s apple, which he festooned with colorful ties. He was a funny, sweetheart of a guy, and for many in the class their first encounter with a man who was only one smolder away from flaming. But he was honorable as hell and never hinted at his sexuality or assumed that it—or ours—was anybody’s business.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~nooriginalthought/ Charles

    Book;

    You left out the best part of that quote:

    “Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.”

    I agree with most of what you and she have said in your posts.  I would also like to point out that cross-dressing is not the same as “gay.”  Something that MOST liberals do not seem to understand and it is something that most gay men get pissed off about (at least those of us who aren’t the partisan-politically-minded ones who are screaming about Nazis because gay marriage isn’t allowed in the US).

    FYI – I’m gay, “straight-acting,” enjoy sports and the outdoors, and have never, NEVER, dressed up in woman’s clothes; not even as a kid.  The closest thing was a cape; but that was because superman had one and could fly. (no, I wasn’t foolish enough to try jumping off the barn roof, even with my flying cape).  No offense to women, but, as I celebrate my masculinity why the hell would I want to even pretend to be a “woman” in any way, shape or form?

    Finally, that picture of her kid says it all – it’s about halloween and having fun and kidding around.

    P.S.  11B40, from what I remember about scooby-doo (I wasn’t a big fan as a kid, and it was more popular after my time) the girl Daphne was one of the smart kids who always figured out the mystery.

  • Charles Martel

    Charles, I have never had anybody give me a puzzled look when I’ve asked them, “When you were young, did you ever don the cape?”

    Almost every kid that has ever lived has done so. Like you, although donning the cape gave me extraordinary powers, I wisely limited myself to jumping off the couch. Of course I knew that at any time I chose (which I never quite got around to), a leap off a rooftop or a skyscraper would have probably, most likely, in almost any case, been a cinch.

  • http://northstarmartialarts.com/blog1 Scott in SF
  • excathedra

    Let me add my two cents.
    Children may be sexualized too early of late (sic!), but this incident does not come across to me as that. It is now a part of life, at least for middle class white people, that there are gays in the world and that their own children might end up homosexual. Rather than repressing the concern, some folks now are open about it. My own sister and brother in law have mentioned this to me about my nephew. Perhaps it’s because of my own homosexuality, but they initiated the conversation, which ended by them saying that they would love him no less.
    Whatever other unfortunate attitudes, positions or behaviors gay culture has now taken, as a man who remembers what it was like when homosexuality was (literally) unspeakably awful, to know that any kid nowadays could actually talk about it…that is a great gift.
    As for gender deviant behavior in little boys, for better or worse, Green’s 1987 study strongly suggests that this is the best and most likely indicator of male homosexual orientation in adulthood. To my knowledge, no one has seriously challenged him. If I can use the Bell curve as an image, there are small numbers of boys at both ends: gender conforming boys who become homosexual and gender deviant boys who become heterosexual. But most gender deviant boys later identify as homosexual. No other study has shown anything different, to my knowledge.
    Working as a therapist with gay men, I find the issue of masculinity and femininity to be a huge one. Assuming that most gay men experience an inner femininity far earlier than straight men and in a different context, how to navigate these two primordial energies can be rough.  Far too many gay men exhibit an internal feminine that is immature or pathological. And gay culture is no help at all here. On a bad day, I have come to suspect that sexual orientation and gender identity disorder are less different than I though. Although the masculine is fetishized sexually, outside of that, gay leadership simply and reflexively defends and protects the effeminate; and, very sadly and ironically, often joins forces with feminists in pathologizing the masculine.
     
     

  • excathedra
  • excathedra

    And if you really want to get your blood pumping, this 1994 comparison of typically gay male and typically lesbian interests and behaviors from Steve Sailer at Vdare. Enjoy!  http://www.isteve.com/lesvsgay.htm

  • suek

    I think a small part of the problem is the fact that Halloween has become an adult activity.  When it was strictly a children’s dress-up day, who the child chose to dress up as was pretty unimportant.  Adults, however, choose costumes that tend to express inner desires, I think.  And then they project their own reasons for their choices onto the children.  When did Halloween become an adult dress-up day???  And why?
     
    I remember one year when I made costumes for my sons…Batman and Robin.  Very elaborate, including the multipocketed thingy belt.  And of course…capes.  How they loved those capes!  Wore them to play _long_ after Halloween!  They’d run at full speed, watching the cape as it flew out behind them…
    After that year, I made flannel pajamas for Halloween each year.  Choice of material was based on the fad of the year.  And then I made a cape.  Didn’t matter what or who the character of the year was – they got a cape.  Then they also had another pair of PJs for the rest of the year.  Took care of play time and bed time.  It worked for me!  although…pajamas have to have flat-felled seams which are a _lot_ of work.  It was worth it.  I haven’t been into a fabric store for ages – but the last time I was, it seemed as if the fabric was so expensive that you might as well buy something at the regular cheapy stores…you’d come out ahead.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “When did Halloween become an adult dress-up day???”
     
    probably when people wanted a new reason to party so they came up with costume parties. And Halloween ended up being the most popular day such social get togethers.