I’ve posted this story before, but I think it deserves more examination. Not from the angle of gender, but from the angle of childism: if you look at it from that angle, there’s some interesting things going on here.
Most salient is the fact that the childist enforcement was done by parents to other parents, and the children were not involved at all. That is to say, the hostile parents did not blame the child for wanting to wear the dress, they blamed the parents of the child for letting him wear the dress.
This point makes sense if you remember that, in the childist perspective, children’s values are irrelevant; in that context, it would make no more sense to blame a child for wanting to wear a dress (and breaking gender rules by doing so) than it would to blame one tree for shading another. The parents, being responsible for raising their children “right,” are responsible for keeping the child in line within its gender role.
Obviously parents put pressure on their children to conform, but the desire to do this comes not only from the parents’ own gender indoctrination, but also from the desire to have “well-behaved children” and the fear of being seen as “bad parents.” What you have to keep in mind (given my antinatalist position, I assume my readers are probably not parents) is that parenting is a highly social activity. Parents pretty much have to cooperate with other parents, and in doing so they judge, and are judged by, the other parents.
Parents also perceive the behavior of other parents out in the world and judge them for letting their children “run amok.” So they don’t want their own children to “run amok.” In short, parents evaluate how well they are doing by judging how well other parents are doing, and they do so by looking at how “well-behaved” the children are.
Note how masculinity factors into it: the father was blamed for being emasculated because he didn’t “put his foot down” in this situation and enforced gender roles on his “son.” As the father, he is expected to stand up for his “son” and raise him right, just as mothers are expected to keep her “daughters” in line and are the primary enforcers of gynocidal measures. In folk psychology, people talk about how “boys” need “father figures”: I think this is part of the same belief.
Furthermore, I find it interesting that the whole “men are irresponsible” principle completely goes to the wayside where gender enforcement is concerned. Then the father is supposed to be responsible.
Now you might say that all of this does not apply to the parents in this story since, after all, they let their “son” wear a dress. I don’t know anything else about the parents in question, so I can’t really judge their behavior. I’m talking about general principles, not this specific case. It may very well be that these parents are part of the group of parents who futilely try to raise their children without gender roles (although the fact that they identify it as “son” seems to contradict that).
For most parents, raising a child is all about them, and in having children they are fulfilling their needs, not those of the child. They enforce gender not for the child’s sake but for their sake: because they don’t want to lose face, because they want a “normal” child, because they want their progeny to reproduce in turn.
The mainstream childist attitude is that either the parents or the media are the primary influence on their children. Here is an example:
There are a number of problems with this, the most prominent being that it’s a false dichotomy. Parents and the corporate world (including the mass media) are always both involved in a child’s upbringing, if a child is to exist in society at all. But the role of such arguments is to justify and reinforce the parental claim of property: without it, we might as well just let anyone raise our children, so the story goes. But this is mindless nonsense, especially given how bad parents usually are at child-raising.
Gender indoctrination accompanies a whole host of thought control guidelines used against children. I’ve previously named three:
* The child must appear “normal.”
* The child must be ready to compete against their peers, either as students or as workers.
* The child must be “intelligent” and competent.
The difference, I think, is that the above guidelines serve a verifiable purpose (so the child can be “successful”) and therefore can be shown to be wrong-headed. Gender indoctrination, on the other hand, has no further aim beyond enforcing gender: as long as a person follows the dictates of his or her gender, the indoctrination “worked.” But since gender indoctrination is perpetuated not only by the parents but by the child’s whole environment, one can hardly say that parenting was the cause of this “success.”