Monday, 27 October 2014

Gender Roles Conundrum

In September, my kids choose Hallowe'en costumes.  Nathan chose Emmett from the Lego movie.  Alex didn't seem too interested but said yes to a pirate costume.

On Friday, when his therapist asked what he would be for Hallowe'en, Alex told her "Queen Elsa".  I dismissed it, since Alex often will respond to such questions with whatever is in sight, rather than expressing a genuine opinion.

But then on the weekend, we were at a birthday party where one of his teachers was helping out.  And she asked me what Alex was going to be for Hallowe'en.  When I told her "pirate" she told me that he had been saying "Queen Elsa" for several weeks now.

This puts me in a logistical conundrum.  Frozen is still the hottest option out there for young girls and finding a costume would require plenty of legwork.  There's no time to make one myself.

The other challenge (and the elephant in the room) are traditional gender roles.  It is acceptable for a girl to dress as a boy under pretty much any circumstance.  It is moderately acceptable for a boy to dress as a girl for comedy purposes.  In select circumstances, there would be acceptance for a transgender preference.  But a boy dressing as a girl simply because he admires a female character is not one that society understands.

I don't believe this is anything more than Alex admiring Queen Elsa and wanting to partake in some of that feeling.  (Much as I would love to have a Captain Mal or StarLord costume for Comicon next year.) 

Alex doesn't understand or care about society's expectations.  He's not going to recognize disapproval.  Why should I deprive him of something he cares about because other people won't understand?  Particularly when that lack of understanding is not something which will impact him.

If this were Nathan, we would sit down and have a talk about how some people might say mean things or make fun.  I'd try to help him understand and prepare for the consequences  if he wanted to proceed.  But Alex isn't going to get it and frankly, there are already enough odd behaviours to make him the target of blanket disapproval so what's one more?

I don't know if I can pull this off.  But I think I owe it to him to try.

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