I am speaking to you, the mother who was screaming at her little boy who was crying after falling off his bike. You told him to quit crying like a girl, you told him that he needs to toughen up and ‘be a man’.
I am talking to you, the grandma who dragged her grandson away from the toy department at the supermarket in a hurry of pure embarrassment, petrified that someone might have seen him looking enviously at the Barbie dolls
I am speaking to you, sister to a 12-year old boy who thinks her brother might be possessed by demons because he likes dressing up in your clothes.
Then there is the dad who wishes his son excelled at sport instead of drama. The uncle who would trade his soul for a nephew who would rather play in the dirt than one who gives makeovers to all the little girls in the neighborhood.
I see you, the schoolyard and workplace bullies who thrive on emotionally abusing and publicly humiliating those who don’t match your perception of what an acceptable human being should be.
We are conditioned to believe that little boys must be as tough as nails and grow up to be even tougher, hardened men. We believe that real men don’t cry, wear makeup or date other men. We assign labels to those who don’t conform to our ridiculous standards and do our utmost to break them down to the core in an attempt to rectify what must surely be a gross flaw of nature.
As parents we often simply cannot fathom why our children are not to our very own likeness. We condemn ourselves and, in turn, we condemn the very lives we created. We strive to mold our children into perfect, socially acceptable beings, not realising the extent of the damage we are causing.
By forcing our sons to relinquish their true selves we are only teaching them to self-hate. We are instilling a belief of unworthiness. We are injuring their souls.
It is 2017 and gone are the days where little boys are expected to grow up to be engineers or rugby players or firemen. A boy is a boy whether he plays hooker for the first team or twirls on stage in a sparkly pink tutu. Your son will be just that whether he ends up marrying Miss South Africa or Barry the car salesman from down the street. It is traumatising enough to survive a ‘normal’ adolescence, imagine how much more mortifying it must be enduring one knowing all too well that you are ‘different’.
Well guess what? I for one happen to like ‘different’. Instead of poking fun at them I choose to stand by the boys who are brave enough to wear their sparkly lip gloss and dance to Lady Gaga. I stand by the boys who take more pride in their appearance than I do and who would rather watch Grease on stage than go to a soccer game. I stand by the beautiful, honest souls who are so fiercely confident in their own skins that, in turn, they make me feel confident in mine. I stand by the boys who love other boys and who aren’t afraid to share this love with the world. I stand by the boys who are, regardless of their manicured nails and love of designer clothes, just boys.