A few days ago blue milk wrote about Disney Princesses, and talked about how she is trying to balance up her intense dislike for them with the need to avoid turning them into forbidden fruit. I made a (rather flippant) remark about planning on mocking such things mercilessly, rather than banning them.
Mom and blue milk made some rather more well thought out remarks about my plan. They weren't telling me anything I didn't know, but I hadn't given any intimation of that in my comment. And so I responded along the lines of "I'm a bit selective about what I mock". I absolutely agree that constantly mocking girly things simply relegates feminine things to a status less than manly man things. Since my eldest two are boys, I've actually spent a lot of time talking up girly things. Pointing out that there is nothing wrong with boys liking pink and dressing up as ballerinas. I mock thoughtless stereotypes. I have no problem with deliberate use of stereotypes, they can be very funny. The critical part with raising kids is making sure they hear an appropriate commentary on these things.
I like pretty dresses (although I can leave the meringues to themselves - I watched Enchanted last night, and that dress was hideous), I even like the odd shade of pink. I think in general, boys are far more constrained than girls. It is much easier to let girls play with trucks than to let boys play with princess dresses. Of course, that is because girls are allowed to aspire to the superior world of men, but boys can't condescend to be feminine. Oddly enough, this has the effect of constraining boys way more than girls. So that's the main thing I have been fighting. Ben's favourite colour is pink, and I have encouraged him not to let other kids tell him that it shouldn't be. For Christmas last year I bought him a ballerina costume with fairy wings and a tiara. I wussed out and gave it to Elissa (at 7 weeks of age), which shows that I haven't quite got past all the bias. But I bought it for Ben, and I mentioned in my comment on blue milk's post that he still dresses up in it sometimes. This is where the serendipity comes in. This morning I went in to Ben's room to find the boys playing dress ups, and this is what Ben was wearing.
Note the fairy wings, sword slung on his back and gun in his pocket. He also has the "one ring" around his neck, just in case. I think the tiara really sets it off. He told me he was dressing up as a good person who can fly and who can get the bad guys and is beautiful. I took this photo and the last thing I heard him say as I went back down stairs was "I'm going to kill you."
Whether or not I want to promote guns and killing bad guys, I think I am making some progress on messing with gender stereotypes... :)