We all know the Bible verse from our Sunday School days, you know, the one about how only girls are supposed to wear pink nail polish. It’s right there, red-letter-edition, I believe. [That means Jesus said it, in case you didn’t know.] So it’s appropriate that a wingnut going by the name of “Erin R. Brown” has published a fever screed bemoaning the “transgendered child propaganda” in a J. Crew ad:
J.CREW, a popular preppy woman’s clothing brand
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Erin, J. Crew is a women’s clothing brand?! They must be more subversive than I thought with their transgender propaganda, because I am a BOY BLOGGER and I am totally wearing a J. Crew shirt right now. Gay/transgender agenda bein’ crammed down everybody’s throats, ain’t it!
is targeting a new demographic – mothers of gender-confused young boys.
Well, they got cash. Okay, so here is the ad in question. It features Jenna Lyons, the president of J. Crew, with her son, who apparently likes the color pink, and also likes a little nail polish now and then.
This is a phase that MANY boys go through, and they grow up to be straight, gay, bisexual, transgender and whatever else. It literally has no bearing on anything if a little boy likes pink or nail polish. But we’re dealing with the Religious Right here, so please, let us all get our pink panties in a wad. Back to the complaining Erin person:
In the feature, Jenna is pictured with her adorable curly-haired son Beckett, and the two are seen giggling with Jenna holding Beckett’s feet, containing hot pink painted toe-nails. ‘Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink,’ read Jenna’s quote. ‘Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.’
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. J.CREW, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the façade of liberal, transgendered identity politics. One has to wonder what young boys in pink nail polish has to do with selling women’s clothing.
Okay, first of all, let’s be clear, that J. Crew makes clothes for men too. Also, let’s be clear about the fact that millions of moms have had little boys who liked to do girly things sometimes. Let us continue to be clear about the fact that, AS ERIN STATED, Beckett might change his favorite color tomorrow! That is the point about this being a phase that lots of kids go through! It is perfectly normal, and the reason this ad probably resonates is that it is such a common experience for moms of boys. To conclude that this ad has anything to do with “transgendered identity politics” is approximately as insane as continuing to believe that there is a question about the birthplace of Barack Obama. Oh, Erin. You’re probably one of those too, aren’t you?
Anyway, that’s all that Erin has to say. Unfortunately the story isn’t over, because now Fox News is jumping on the idiot bandwagon in declaring this a liberal, transgendered propaganda something or other. Enter hack psychologist Dr. Keith Ablow:
Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who’ll be affected by your “innocent” pleasure.
Yeah, because we all know the great damage done to kids who aren’t made to feel ashamed of themselves. Oh wait, this is a wingnut psychologist…they don’t care about protecting kids! They simply are concerned with protecting patriarchy and tradition.
This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such “psychological sterilization” [my word choice] is not known.
This is a dramatic example of nothing. And it is very obvious that “psychological sterilization” was your word choice, as a more qualified mental health professional would never utter moron words like that.
In our technology-driven world—fueled by Facebook, split-second Prozac prescriptions and lots of other assaults on genuine emotion and genuine relationships and actual consequences for behavior—almost nothing is now honored as real and true.
Increasingly, this includes the truth that it is unwise to dress little girls like miniature adults (in halter tops and shorts emblazoned with PINK across the bottoms) and that it is unwise to encourage little boys to playact like little girls.
One can make the argument that little girls shouldn’t be objectified in such ways, but to conflate that with the idea of little boys simply enjoying “girly” things is beyond stupid. What kind of degree mill let Keith Ablow through?
Now would be a good time to point out what this wingnut bitching session is really about, because Ablow goes on to ask, approximately, well, if you don’t see anything wrong with the ad, what if it was a boy in a sundress?! Note that they wouldn’t be quite as freaked out about a tomboy-ish girl. Why? Because, for a girl to aspire to be “like a boy,” although galling for these weak-minded men as it applies to a woman eschewing motherhood and choosing a high-paying career instead, seems quite natural for them, because they believe men are superior. They are freaking out over this because they believe that for a little boy to do something stereotypically “girly” is not just against tradition, but indeed shameful. It’s also the same reason wingnut freak-outs over homosexuality tend to skew hardest against gay men, because gay men are perceived [by wingnuts] to be betraying our masculinity, our superiority, our place on the pedestal. This goes all the way back to the verse in Leviticus about lying with a man “as with a woman.” That verse isn’t about homosexuality, at least not the way modern minds understand it. It’s about misogyny. It’s about the inherent shame, the inherent lower status [they believe], in womanhood.
Watch the trash science spew as Ablow continues:
Well, how about the fact that encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth, can throw our species into real psychological turmoil—not to mention crowding operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts? Why not make race the next frontier? What would be so wrong with people deciding to tattoo themselves dark brown and claim African-American heritage? Why not bleach the skin of others so they can playact as Caucasians?
Oh my dear god! First of all, actual transgender people don’t get gender identities that match their biological sex at birth. Science actually understands this a bit, and all the major medical and mental health associations present a fairly unified front on how this should be handled. Moreover, no one is “crowding” operating rooms for the “amputation of body parts.” Anyone, who is not currently a mentally deficient wingnut, can understand that transgender is not a disease that is somehow going to spread through the general population if little boys are allowed to wear nail polish! The suggestion that this would in any way be related to “playacting” as members of another race is so stupidly insipid that I won’t even address it. Indeed, I’m not sure why I’m still responding at this point, because you really can’t fix stupid.
Ablow then details other symptoms of the fall-out from Nail-Polish-Gate:
The fallout is already being seen. Increasingly, girls show none of the reticence they once did to engage in early sexual relationships with boys. That may be a good thing from the standpoint of gender equality, but it could be a bad thing since there is no longer the same typically “feminine” brake on such behavior. Girls beat up other girls on YouTube. Young men primp and preen until their abdomens are washboards and their hair is perfect. And while that may seem like no big deal, it will be a very big deal if it turns out that neither gender is very comfortable anymore nurturing children above all else, and neither gender is motivated to rank creating a family above having great sex forever and neither gender is motivated to protect the nation by marching into combat against other men and risking their lives.
Okay, first of all, the seething hatred and jealousy Ablow exhibits toward men who have nice bodies and good hair is bizarre, but I understand it, considering his hair situation. But the rest of this can be summed up in one statement: “This is agin’ terdishun, it is!” Ablow here is lamenting the fall of a world where bitches know their place and men are elevated to superior status, simply on account of their penises. It’s supremely pathetic.
I wonder what Jenna would think if her son wanted to celebrate his masculinity with a little playacting as a cowboy, with a gun? Would that bring the same smile of joy and pure love that we see on her face in the J. Crew advertisement? Or would that be where she might draw the line?
Uh, she’d probably be fine with it, because normal, good parents [i.e. not wingnuts] love and support their kids no matter what, instead of putting the terdishun of the penis-having patriarchy above all else, and worrying about the fall-out later.
I’m always amazed at the utter lack of self-awareness wingnut men exhibit when they pen pieces like this, when they clutch their pearls in this way. Do they ever realize how weak, how fearful they look and sound? Do they realize that, in their desire to paint women into one, inferior corner, in their obsession with penis-substitutes, that they end up appearing, in their stereotypical images, like little girls? We on the sane side of things know that these binary constructs aren’t true, for we all have the capacity for strength and weakness, for “masculinity” and “femininity,” and every other emotion and characteristic on the spectrum, regardless of the respective arrangements of each of our genitals. But that is the world wingnuts live in, and so it’s always stunning to me, and not just a little bit hilarious, that in their whiny need to protect their male superiority, they just end up looking sad and scared.
The true threat to men like Dr. Keith Ablow isn’t that little boys who like to wear nail polish will suddenly become gay or transgender or anything else. It’s rather that there are little boys who wear nail polish today who will grow up to be greater, stronger men than anything those wingnuts could ever aspire to, men who don’t need the grading curve of the patriarchy to succeed in life.
That must be absolutely terrifying.
[h/t David Badash]