Let’s take a moment to consider why it’s accepted by society for a woman to wear “men’s” clothes, but not for men to wear “women’s”. Let’s take a moment to consider that the reasons for this are obvious: 1.) it’s degrading to be a woman, and 2.) a man should be “manly”.
Look, the patriarchy hurts women, obviously, but let’s not pretend it doesn’t hurt men too. Boys are taught to be stoic, masculine, athletic, muscular: even if that isn’t who they are. We force men to stifle their emotions, and then blame them for not knowing how to talk about them. We tell them to “man up”, implying that showing emotions makes you womanly and weak. We tell them to “be a man” but give them literally no clues on how to do that. We equate their clothing with their sexuality and their masculinity with their value as a man.
In 2017, the suicide rate of men was more than 3x higher than that of women. This needs to be discussed. It’s atrocious to expect a human being, regardless of gender or anything else, to suffer in silence or swallow their problems. We are not robots. We are sentient. And we NEED to stop telling men that it’s not okay to be themselves.
As the parent of a boy, already having these expectations pushed onto him by society, I need to step up. As the parent of a boy who rejects gender roles, I need to put energy into dealing with fully adult people judging a child for the way he lives his life. Do not tell me a man is any less a man if he chooses to wear a dress. Do not tell me a man is any less a man if he puts on makeup, or has long hair, or (God forbid)! CRIES about something. Don’t you dare tell me.
Look, clothes have no gender. Feelings have no gender. Colours have no gender. Behaviours, toys, and hobbies have no gender. There is no “right way” to be a man. Don’t you dare try and tell me there is. We need to normalise feminine boys, chubby boys, short boys, queer boys, long-haired boys. We need to teach our boys they are valid and loved the way they are.