Monday, October 1, 2012

Much Ado about Bottoms

"Is this a girl skirt or a boy skirt?" asks my four-year old as we sort through a bin of Autumn clothes, looking for clothes that might fit her and her seven-year-old brother and sorting out clothes that were too small and we might give to friends. 

"I don't know ... what do you think?" 

"It could be either, I suppose. But can I have it? I really love it."

"You can have it if it fits."

"Yippee! I'll go try it on now!"

Now I'm going to say something that you may find shocking, so hold on to your britches...

You see, a skirt is a skirt. 

Just like the sky is the sky. 

It's that simple. 


Some people have huge hang-ups about something as basic as clothing, and can't imagine why a boy would wear a skirt, or a dress for that matter. Well, at least that's questionable here in the United States. Amongst some people in the United States, anyway. 

I've seen many boys and men in clothing that meets the criteria of a skirt or a dress right here in good old New England. Every Sunday, the pastor of our church dons and alb, which is very dress-like in appearance. A man who frequents one of the stores in town that I also frequent wears a dhoti kurta, as is traditional in his family. An African American man and his son in our neighborhood celebrate their roots by wearing traditional African clothing. Male friends of ours have known to rock kilts upon occasion. At least one of my kids' male friends wears dresses and skirts at times because he finds them more comfortable than pants, as do I.

We have child whose favorite color used to be pink, who has worn dresses and skirts, who used to have tush-length hair, and is perhaps the most "boyish" looking boy in our family. 

We have a child who, as a toddler, cried at the sight of a pink piece of clothing; who has always preferred blacks, browns, greens and blues; who adores both skater clothes and fancy dresses; and who didn't get the nickname "Danger Girl" for nothing.

"But the child will be teased by his peers!" I hear you exclaim.  

Not if his peers are taught to accept people for who they are on this inside and not what they wear. 
And even if he is - odds are he's not a child who fits into the box society has created for him and would get teased anyway. You can bet his parents are aware of the clothing choices he's making and are there to support him. 


And if you want to talk about teasing, don't think the manly people of the world who wear their pants below their butts, showing off their ever-so-lovely undergarments are impervious to negative comments. 

"But skirts and dresses are for girls!"

Do all the girls you know only wear skirts or dresses - or do they wear jeans and other types of pants? Pants are for boys, you know. It's improper for a lady to wear slacks!!! Oh, wait - it's not??? Ah, that's right. Current cultural beliefs state that it's ok for girls to wear whatever form of clothing they want. It's only boys who are being discriminated against. 

Think about this as you look at the sky today ... not the girl sky or the boy sky - the sky that, no matter what it looks like, no matter if it's blue or pink or purple or orange, is still just the sky. 

What kind of world would this be if we saw people as people, love as love, clothes as clothes, jobs as jobs - without perceiving gender as the most important distinction between the types of each of these? 

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