Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Rainbow Divided. A Lesson in Gender Equality.

     My son is 9 years old going on 35. Really. He's been tested and has an I.Q. of 125. He is literally too smart for his own good. His ability for adult logic occasionally throws me off guard. His logic taught me a lesson in gender equality I will never forget! I never put much thought in gender equality, it had not affected me until now. 

     While Jacob was getting his glasses fitted and learning all the necessary glass care directions, the man helping him asked him what color glass case he would like then reached in and pulled out a case before Jacob could answer. He held in his hand a pink case. My son's eyes lit up and a huge smile broke out across his face because his favorite color is pink. I held my breath to see what would happen as this man's joke was about to blow up in his face.

     The first thing Jacob did was grab the box and say thank you while jumping up and down in his chair. The man looked taken back and at a loss for words. "Oh, you want that one?" I sat silent allowing my son to speak for himself. Jacob assured the man that yes he did want the pink box, pink is his favorite color! "Oh, you don't maybe want blue or green?" The man was looking at me for support to helping to change my son's mind. I remain quiet. My son very happily held on to his new glass case with zero intention of changing his mind.

     He has been denied "the pink one" every time pink has been an option. Not by myself but by society. If there is a pink option along with a green or blue option, he is always given the "boy" colored choice.  This man gave my son the choice and Jacob excitedly held on to the pink, happy to not have to pretend to like the blue or green box. I could see the wheels turning in this man's head, as this has never happened to him before. His handing a pink box to a boy had always sent little boys screeching "YEUW!! PINK!! No way!!" Not my kid.

     On the drive home Jacob held his pink box like it was a treasure. Then he asked me why boys are not supposed to like pink. Huh, my first run in with a gender equality question and it is coming from my 9 year old. I copped out and asked him why HE thought boys were not supposed to like pink.  "Well, I noticed that when a boy, like me, likes pink or purple they get made fun of but if a girl likes blue or green no one picks on her." I felt this ache in my heart when he said that, because he is right. I asked him, "Why do colors belong to boys or girls? Who said boys can only have some of the colors?" Now brace yourself, for what this 9 year old boy said next is beyond his years. Ready? He said, "I do not think God meant for the rainbow to be divided." Stunned silence. I was at a loss for words. My child, in that moment, blew my mind. 

     As I think about it; it is asinine to limit colors for genders. My 9 year old is right; why should he be made fun of for his color choices and not a girl for liking brown? He waited for me to clarify his confusion of the word and I could only offer him words of empowerment. Digging into my body positive speeches I found myself telling him the same thing I have told friends and family who have been down on themselves, "You have the right to like what you like and no one has the power to make you feel bad about it unless you let them. When someone picks on you for liking pink tell them you are allowed to like what you like, you don't comment on the stuff they like." It felt like a feeble attempt to strengthen my son, who has learned to have thick skin when it comes to bullies. He is the shortest boy in his class, likes pink, often sings Elvis or Johnny Cash, and can quote I Love Lucy. Unfortunately he is used to bullies, however he will not let them get to him. Jacob is not ashamed of who is, therefore someone else's opinion of him is not his problem. 

     I think Jacob is one of the strongest kids I know. I take that back, he is one of the strongest people I know. I am proud of his unwavering belief that he is allowed to like whatever he likes and if someone has a problem with it, it is their problem - not his. Jacob sees no logic in judging people for what they like or what they look like. Jacob can teach our society a few lessons on acceptance and gender equality.  My son likes pink and he makes no excuses for it because God did not intended for the rainbow to be divided! Jacob makes me very, very proud. 

1 comment:

  1. My heart has been warmed by your tale of your smart and strong son. I'm not sure why or how colors got assigned to genders, but I'm sure it is just a ploy to sell more baby accessories. A child's innocence and intuition is amazing--many can surely learn from him.