My wife sent me a link last week knowing that I would just have to comment. I have written at least three posts about the subject after all. I didn’t ask this exact question though: Why is it that girls can be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”?
Perhaps that is the wrong question. The more pertinent question is: How do we define what is “boyish” or “girlish”?
The article in question discussed several points like clothing preferences (colors and sparkles) and personality traits like compassionate or caring vs agressive and aloof.
To the first: preferences like these are almost completely cultural. What one culture considers feminine may very well be masculine in another culture. Pink and blue are not inherently gendered. A flashy man is not a less masculine man. There just happens to have been a movement towards dull drab colors on men in our culture over the past 120 years or so. If your son likes rainbows and flash he is not less of a boy for it, he just likes something less boring than the current culture would like him to.
To the second: what makes character traits feminine or masculine? Sure, there are definite hormonal and physical differences between males and females that result in slightly different personalities, but these are hardly universal. And they aren’t even that big of differences when we really look at them. My sons are definitely different from my daughters, but the differences are so subtle I couldn’t tell you if it was gender or simply their personalities.
Why this cultural push to make gentleness and compassion a strictly “female” trait? Why assume that a gentle man is effeminate? Why assume a woman who is strong and courageous is “acting like a man”?
Personally I think we are a culture much too obsessed with sexuality and gender. Since when are people narrowly defined by who they want to have sex with? Since when does gender dictate every character trait and personality quirk?
It’s gotten to the point where people even worry about their sexuality in church. Someone was complaining that worship songs in their church sounded “gay” because they call God “beautiful” or express a sentiment of wanting to be with Jesus. While I could agree that the theology of these types of songs is usually lacking and they are usually set to fru fru tunes it is ignorant just to lay them out as “gay”. Are those sentiments incorrect? Was it “gay” when Jesus washed His disciples feet or when we are told to greet one another with a holy kiss? What is it about expressing love in a gentle fashion that is “gay” or even “unmanly”?
Back to the first question though: Why is it that girls can be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”? For that answer you’ll have to wait for next week.