Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gender Crisis: Confusing Sons

Raising sons today is a challenge especially when they are bombarded with wrong messages of what it is to be a man. Recently this story was released by Fox News:

A J.Crew ad that shows a top designer painting her young son’s toenails neon pink has some parents and doctors seeing red.

The image appeared in a feature called "Saturday With Jenna," which was emailed to customers last week and highlights a few of J.Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons’ favorite products -- including the hot pink Essie nail polish seen on her son, Beckett. The caption below the picture reads, “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

But not everyone sees fun in the ad.

“This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity,” psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a  Health column about the ad. Media Research Center’s Erin Brown agreed, calling the ad “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.”

“Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future,” Brown wrote in an opinion piece Friday.  "J.CREW, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics.”

But Jo B. Paoletti, author of “Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America” told she believes critics are overreacting.

“Lots of kids, say 7 and under, might ask their parents for something that would seem to be cross gender, and I think most parents, especially in the privacy of their own home might think, what’s the big deal?" Paoletti said.

J.Crew spokeswoman Margot Fooshee said the company had no comment on the ad. Jenna Lyons did not respond to direct requests for comment.When asked if the ad crossed the line, a majority of Fox News Twitter users backed Paoletti.“What line would that be? Not forcing your child to like a color just because gender stereotypes say they should?” one commenter wrote.

But not everyone agreed.

“Why would I want my son to paint his toenails pink?” another wrote. “Why would I want my son to paint his toenails at all?”


I don't know about you, but this ad really infuriated me!
Let's not confuse our sons with mixed messages especially with something as important as gender identity.
There are parents whose children truly struggle with homosexuality and ads like this only confuse them.

What are your thoughts, ladies?

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Hannah said...

Boys today have a hard enough time growing up like a man! They certainly don't need their mothers complicating their delicate feelings. I feel very sorry for this poor kid.

And I'd like to smack the mother, but I suppose it would be nicer to pray for her. :)

Don and Shelly said...

Holy cow... what is the goal here? Let me guess: as far as her son goes she's hoping for John Wayne and she'll end up with Boy George?... and then scratch her head not knowing how in the world her "mothering" got them there...! I am insensed! My husband's grandmother and great grandmother used to dress up his uncle in dresses for fun when he was small. Would anyone care to guess where that led to? I am fed up with all of the foolish attempts to engineer a better and more sensitive society only to wind up in downtown Sodom and Gomorrah. Sorry for the rant... but not MY son...!

Mum-me said...

Back in the late 80s/early 90s I worked in a pre-school. The head teacher went away to a training session one day and came back to tell us that we were all to encourage the boys to play with dolls and dress up in fairy costumes, and tell the girls to make mudpies and drive toy trucks through them. The message was clear - we were to blur (or completely crossover) the traditional divides between what was considered 'girl play' and 'boy play'.

I am pleased to report that this experiment was a complete failure at our pre-school! The boys DID play with the dolls, but they took them for rides on their trucks, or used them as guns, or buried them up to their necks in the sand pit. They slung the fairy dresses around their necks like super-hero capes or used them as slings for carrying blocks to construction sites.

The girls were more likely to play 'boy' games for a while. THey would construct a building from blocks, but usually to house a doll or toy, and then proceed to keep it neat and tidy and plant a pretend garden out the front or cook dinner inside. Mud pies were okay, as long as they didn't get their pretty skirt dirty.

So even with concerted effort thrown at these children, they still reverted to their traditional 'genderized' play choices.

Sadly, though, a child who has this bombarded at them from a parent from an early age may not bounce back so easily. I do pity boys who are treated this way.

Elizabeth said...

When my brother and I were very young (I was four and he was two) and my mom would paint my nails, he would always want just his thumbs painted so he could be like me. My mom would oblige him every once in awhile, and it always had to be taken off before we went anywhere. He is a very manly adult now twenty-two years later, and would never dream of even looking like a "metrosexual". So, I don't believe any harm was done there, it was just a phase he was going through to want to be like his older sister, and my parents realized that. However, they (and I, now that I am an adult and a mother) would have had a serious problem with painting all of his toenails bright pink and broadcasting it to the world as fine. There is a difference between occasional pretend play and making a habit of blurring gender lines.

Mrs. Stam said...

Well I remember my "11 younger then me" little brother wearing my dresses when we were younger (this is when were were playing dress up)

he grew up to me a manly man...

My husband is the third oldest boy of 12, and he is right in the middle of 4 girls ( after that 5 boy came in a row) he nursed dolls when he was younger, and he has no gender crisis even own a pink dress shirt that look lovely with his navy suit and against is skin tone, but then again, he is also a manly man... tools, grease, guns....

with that said, boys needs strong fatherly example in their life, yes they should learn to be nurturing and loving (their future wife will appreciate a husband sensitive to her needs)but also needs to learn to be a leader, provider and protector...

I don't know where I'm going with this... this ad made me feel uncomfortable but I don't know why... maybe their is a fine line between child play and fostering a sin.... I really don't know?

I by all mean would not encourage young men to be in "neutral gender" that can be confusing for all.

We have 3 daughter that wears dress because well makes them feminine

If the Lord blesses us with boys they will wear pants and shirt.

Far Above Rubies said...

The picture of the mother with her boy makes me sad and angry, and I can't help but wonder what goes through her mind as she happily displays his pink colored toes.

It is a distortion of truth.

Toni Swayze said...

The color is not what bothers me because once upon a time pink was considered a "manly" color for boys because it was a light shade of red.

What bothers me is the toenail painting. Boys shouldn't care about what their toes look like. They should be running around stubbing their toes as they fight imaginary battles. Scraping their knees as they climb trees and rocks.

Kady said...

This really bothered me when I saw this on the news. Men and women are different, and parents should train their children that way. My little brother wanted us to paint his nails like his big sister but my parents and I always taught him not to because that's not the way boys should be. Boys should be boys. If you train them that way, then its the best thing.

Gretchen said...

My brother and I are only 17 months apart, and so grew up very close. When we were little and would visit my grandma, she would sometimes give me a "makeover", lightly applying a little lipstick, rouge, and eye shadow to my face. I LOVED it- I felt SO beautiful! My brother felt left out though, so she would sometimes put a little on him. She had this great trunk of dress up clothes in a suitcase, and we would dress up together. He was usually dressed in men's clothing, but sometimes he'd wear a dress.

He's fine, I'm fine, we're all fine. For him, it was a GAME, nothing more. Something different and novel that got him a little quality time with grandma and a little fuss made over him. It didn't "make him gay" or anything like that. He's a VERY intelligent, masculine 28 now and has NEVER had any homosexual leanings.

In fact, as a child development major, I can tell you that MOST gender studies that they've done on things like this have proved that things like painting toe nails (or not) or dressing up (or not) or playing with "boy toys" and "girl toys" (or not) has VERY LITTLE BEARING on most kids' development.

If this was a picture of a girl with a truck would we be upset? The little Duggar girls play with "boy toys" all the time...are they going to be transgendered?! *gasp!*

Or is this more about our societal fear (and maternal terror) that something we do to our sons will "make our boy gay"?

Rebecca said...

It did not concern me so much that the mother painted the boys toenails. I think, depending on the individual child, that may or may not impact his development at all. What really concerned me is the potential future embarassment of this boy. I don't think, as a grown man, he will appreciate that a picture of him with pink toenails was plastered all over the internet and other media. In his position, I think I would be absolutely humiliated. I could really see him resenting his mom and that would just be sad. Mothers should be protecting their children, not exploiting them.

Mary R. said...

I do not like the ad, mostly because I know where they are going with it. Would it mess a kid up? I don't know. I knew a family (my grandmother's friends) who dressed up their boy exactly like a girl (dresses, long hair, girl shoes and all) until he was 5 years old!!!!! Told everybody he was a girl, too. That was back in the olden days before anybody thought about homosexuality at all and it was considered a great joke. When he was 5, the joke was ended and they dressed him as a boy from then on. I remember seeing the pictures of him when he was dressed up like a girl and you couldn't tell he wasn't a girl! Did this mess him up? Incredibly, no! He married and became the father of five children. Go figure. I certainly would not recommend doing this, though.

Merriam said...

Well, as for raising sensitive new age males, aren't they fun in jnr. high all the way through university, when they can go shopping and be a sensitive ear to our girl problems. But honestly, I married a man. A big, hairy, capable man. Teach the boys to be men. Perhaps they won't be 'best friends' with a gaggle of girls in their youth, but they will be right for one very special girl in adulthood.

Anonymous said...

I can't say much about what this mother has done, it's not for me to judge, but I know it is not something that I would encourage or allow my son to do. I'm sure there are other ways for a mother to spend time with her son that would be much more productive. I didn't let my 8 year old daughter wear nail polish for the longest time because I felt she was too young. Not only that, putting chemicals like formaldahyde on your fingernails that need to breath cannot be good for you. I limit how often she can wear it.

Renee C. said...

I happen to agree with Gretchen. I don't see anything wrong with this ad, nor do I think it will confuse him later in life as to what "gender" he is. He won't become homosexual just because his mom painted his nails as part of a playful ad. I think this is being blown out of proportion and I'm sure this little boy will grow up to be a very strong, secure man.

TenderHeartMom said...

I see no harm in experimenting like this at a young age. Pink used to be a color just for men, its only in the 20th cen it became a woman's color. I don't think there would be any outrage if it was a little girl trying on her father's tie. Wearing nail polish does not make someone gay.

Leila- All Meant To Shine said...

I don't think anyone here thinks that painting toenails pink will make a little boy gay or ruin his life. For me, the issue is 1) the embarassment he will probably face and 2) that the mother seems to be encouraging it. She does not seem to be just accepting it or painting them because he begged to be included in something. Wouldn't most little boys be fine with having their toenails painted? I don't think many would argue against it. That doesn't mean that we should encourage it or egg it on, which is what she seems to be doing. I think the bigger question is why does she feel the need to encourage her son to have pink painted toenails and then broadcast it.

Jo said...

My mum taught my brothers to knit and cook and my dad taught them to run a farm. When my son was little I painted his nail once or twice when he asked. My brothers and my sons are NOT confused in any way about they sexuality, they are very much men. The concept of transgender confusion is adult thinking not children. They aren't confused just being silly- being a child. Something some adults have forgotten. You do not become homosexual by wearing polish. Anyway, even boys who do knit or wear polish still love their trucks and mud.

April said...

The problem with this is the simple fact that our society is making the line between male and female thinner and thinner. As parents we need to stand up and take steps to be sure that we're teaching our daughters to be ladies and our sons to be gentlemen. My sister paints her sons nails and it really irritates me. I don't think it's okay.

Amanda said...

I have three boys and one girl. We are very much old fashioned when it comes to gender roles for the most part (my daughter has a career that I find more suited for a male in mind but I would support her in it if that is what she chooses) BUT...My sons have put on their sister's dress or a pair of high heels to be silly and get a laugh. My youngest son likes to play pedicure shop with his sister and I and has asked for his toe nails to be painted. He has been a reluctant make up model for his sister. We do not encourage it but we also do not make it forbidden fruit. It is just silliness and play. Five minutes later the older boys are back to video games, cars and fishing and my younger son is back to legos, action figures, swords, and army men.

As for embarrassment, don't our parents all have some embarrassing picture of us that comes back to haunt us in our young adult years? I know there is one of me with some sort of mullet hair cut in the 80's that my husband will never let me live down and the one of me when I was a really awkward teen in jr high that my kids thought would be funny to take on the wall near the cathedral ceilings. Yes, those pictures could have stayed in a box someplace (thanks mom) and never seen the light of day again but I certainly do not think they scarred me for life.

I hate how society is taking away our boys and men's manhood but I think people are making too much of this ad.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Fuentes,
Ads like this infuriate me too. My husband is in the military and I see boys struggling to grow up just because their dads are not around as much. We currently live on base and my sons friend has the "skateboarders" long hair and my son has been asking to grow his hair out too. My husband told him absolutely not only girls have long hair. People think I am too strict, too overprotective, etc. with my children but I don't want them to ever be confused about their genders. Sorry so long but living on base these last 3 years has shown me how much I would just love to move to the countryside where there are no neighbors lol.
Sarah L.

Lecia said...

The bible is clear on the roles of males and females. I have noticed even christian parents often do not encourage their boys to spend their time doing things that will help them develop godly male character. Many boys are raised by females and those who do have fathers in the home often spend most of their time with their mothers.
I would love to encourage those parents to train their boys to take on male roles in the home. When our boys were younger their dad worked many long hours and they were with me most of the time. But they took on the responsibilities of their father when he was away, which helped them to develop into godly young men.

Mrs. June Fuentes said...


I appreciate all of your opinions and so grateful for your share it in a respectful and gracious way!

I want to remind you of society's agenda (or should I say Satan's) to feminize men. Not that playing with girls toys will traumatize one forever, or that when older sister puts a dress on baby brother and thinks it's cute--no, of course not. My infuriation comes from knowing this is just one of the many forms of confusing messages that are sent to our men and sons and could possibly distract them from their calling to be the men of God they need and and are called to be.

Younger sons may look at the ad and not have the discernment that adults have to understand what is going on behind the scenes---and what is deemed as harmless fun might not always leave one unscathed. (Yes, I knew people who struggled with this sort of thing. It started with what seemed liked harmless fun and turned to cross dressing and tragically eventually accepting a gay lifestyle.) You just never know what is going on in someone's mind.

With that being said, I want to also add to pray for those who do struggle with these issues. Our attitudes should always be one of love towards them and towards one another.

Many blessings...

Jillian said...

If this were a little girl wearing dad's dress shirt, no one would bat an eye. Why is it that we're okay with women doing traditionally masculine things, but it's offensive or sad for men (or boys, in this case) to engage in more feminine behavior.

Regardless of what anyone says, women are still oppressed in this society. We are still paid less for the same work, still do 90 more minutes of housework per week than our male spouses and I'm still called honey and sweetheart by my male clients at work. Say what you will about the supposed importance of gender roles, but this is neither just nor is it biblical. So, it makes sense to everyone why a woman would want to be more masculine--men have more power and respect--but when a man is more feminine, the whole system of oppression is threatened--why would that boy want to be womanly? Is there no value in the feminine?

I think it's sad that we have so little value for women and femininity in general in this world that we make such a hullabaloo over a little boy, spending time with his mom, doing something they both enjoy. What is wrong with us?

sarah smith said...

my issue with this has nothing to do with the toe painting. the moms comment that "thankfully she has a boy whos loves pink" screams to me. was this woman hoping that she had a girl? is she somehow implying that having a son is not good enough? if God blesses you with a son, you should be embracing his masculininty, not trying to turn him into a girl you dont have. i have one girl and 2 boys, and i must say, i find it much easier to be the mother to boys. i have to make a very conciuose effort to embrace my daughters "girl" side. but i do. how easy it would be for me to stick her in blue jeans and hand her a shovel, but instead i buy her a purse for her birthday, and ignore the voice in my head that screams out how hard it will be to keep that cute little dress clean.

va_grown said...

I read the article and a lot of the comments that were posted and I find it sad. So many of the arguments IN FAVOR of it are the exact arguments AGAINST it for me.
"They don't know who they are yet." "They're just experimenting." "It doesn't mean anything to him yet, it's just for fun." And on, and on...

This is exactly why I think we need to be careful and discerning in how we handle this as parents. No, it's not harmful that little boys express an interest in nail polish and copying mommy. No, it's not harmful that little boys express that they like pink. They DON'T know, yet. They are still being formed and molded. But we DO! Which is why we have to be CLEAR and guide them gently away from feminine behaviors and toward masculine behaviors in these formative years.

What IS harmful is parents giving inexperienced, undiscerning children free rein rather than direction. What IS harmful is being so flattered as a mother that they "want to be like us" that we don't see what's in their best interest--which is to be MEN who love and respect their mothers--not another "girlfriend" to get mani/pedis with.

Hannah said...

Our country really needs prayer right now. Children are so precious and tender, they need to be protected in any way possible.

Tiffany Anne said...

This scares me to death that this child may be someone's father one day. If he choses not to be homosexual. I could never imagine wanting to paint my son's nails, and luckily, he would never want me to! I would never want the enemy to sneak in and take my son that way! Thank you for sharing this.

melissa said...

I wonder what the boys' friends are saying about this. Do they think it is 'cool' that the mom paints the toenails? Personally, I think that is very odd. This article is very disturbing.

Sarah : ) said...

I have a little brother that I used to take baby blankets and clothes pins to make him "dresses" to wear, but as soon as he could say no to me, he did (about age 2). I don't think that occassionally painting his toenails will "make him gay", because homosexuality is a sin and therefore a result of our inherently sinful nature that we all possess. Our sinful nature from birth is what makes anyone "gay", a thief, a liar, an adulterer, etc. What is disgusting is that this corporate entity (and his own mother!) would exploit this little boy to push their own social and political agenda, and one day he will understand what they did. I do think it's pathetic that we have to continually try to make boys less boyish, until they start viewing pornography or acting out sexually or bullying at a young age and then we say, "Boys will be boys". The world is drowning in a sea of sin and darkness, but they don't know it, and they love the darkness, because they think it hides their sins. So, why are we shocked that darkness is celebrating and advocating darkness. Salvation through Jesus Christ, God and Creator of all, is the only answer to any sin, including the sin of homosexuality.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I feel this behavior is extremely selfish on the part of the mother. I work with pre-school children everyday & see the results firsthand of so many parents who are too indulgent (of both the children & themselves) to set any reasonable boundaries. I can only shake my head & wonder sometimes.

Steph. :) said...

Oh my. I know it might seem like bad parenting but I used to *threaten* to paint my son's fingernails if he did not cut them when I asked (obviously once he was old enough). It worked everytime, as the last thing he would want would be a manicure and nail polish!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is very sad, and personally I find it disgusting. It is at least foolish, and can't do this little boy any good. But we have to remember, we shouldn't be surprised when unsaved people (who aren't even supposed to be living in accordance with Scripture, as Christians are!) DON'T live according to Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Lord Jesus, help us! We are so steeped in corruption that we think it is ok to paint a little boy's nails with nail polish. Next, we will be placing our sons in beauty pageants and dressing them up in our ribbons and pearls. ENOUGH! In the last days, the right will be evil, and the evil (considered) right. It makes me deeply sad, and makes me long for the old days, when men revelled in their manhood, and women were so exquisitely soft and feminine...not competitive, aggressive or tough like some are today. There is no excuse for letting boys identify with femininity, or letting girls identify with masculinity. The bible says it is an abomination!
Don't believe me? Read in Leviticus where The Lord said that it was an abomination for men to wear that which pertained to womanhood, and for women to wear that which pertained to maleness. If The Lord God despises it, why in the world would we think that it was ok? The very photograph of the mother with her son with painted pink toenails is very unseemly...there is nothing "cute" about it!

Please, please let us return to righteousness. It is so comely and beautiful to be right in the sight of The Lord. If The Lord Jesus returned tonight, you would be so ashamed to be in His Presence wearing something that pertained to another gender...and that even goes for nail polish on your son! The Lord would hold YOU accountable! It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Just God. Please...let us live right before Him!

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