Saturday, February 12, 2011

Doctor Phil Bad

Doctor Phil gives advice to a concerned mother who asks about the behavior her 5 year old son is displaying in playing with Barbie dolls and wearing girl's clothes.
 "Direct your son in an unconfusing way. Don't buy him Barbie dolls or girl's clothes. You don't want to do things that seem to support the confusion at this stage of the game ... Take the girl things away, and buy him boy toys. Support him in what he's doing, but not in the girl things."
So... support your kid in what he does... unless you don't agree with it? Of course we shield our children from danger and work to correct anti-social behavior, but does dressing in girls' clothes present a danger to a 5 year old? Is there some inherent difference between a Barbie, which is just the likeness of a very unrealistic woman, and other dolls action figures your child might play with?  Last I checked none of them have genitalia anyway. If your child wants to throw a tea party or a masquerade ball for his/her toys does it really matter if the doll is stamped with the name Barbie or G.I. Joe? Play is play and children's imaginations are a lot stronger than the Doc gives credit for... if the kid wants to play with the toys in a "girl way" he's going to, regardless of what they look like. My daughter names her pretzels sometimes (fortunately, I harbor no animosity toward baked dough being referred to as Larry or Sadie). The Doctor does at least say these behaviors are not a precursor or an indication that the child is gay (although, I'm not entirely sure he doesn't see gayness as an undesirable outcome)... so why not just allow your kids' personality to develop as it will instead of teaching them every aspect of life should be managed and controlled in order to comply with society's expectations? I'm thinking a 5 year old is going to go through a lot of phases from dressing as a women, pretending to be a dog or a lion, dreaming of becoming an astronaut; just let the kid be himself, he'll be OK. Maybe he's going to grow up to be gay, heaven forbid!! Maybe he'll be the next Bill Cunningham or perhaps another Roddy Piper.

Gender rules are constructs of society... gender's only role should be to determine if two beings can procreate. If we looked at gender for what it is in this fashion, think how much better it would be for women in general, transgender people, gay people or basically anyone who doesn't fit the gender stereo-types. Sexism, homophobia, and any of the multiple forms of sexual identity discrimination are all based in the idea of gender identity and our need to put people in tidy little boxes. If a man wants to dress and act as "most other men" (whatever that means) great... if he wants to go another direction... fine. Same for women and children. We are all just people and we all just want to do our own thing. You notice how people from other cultures have a hard time assimilating in different societies? It's all part of the same problem. A person is not defined by the way they talk, who they love, how they dress... scratch that... people ARE defined in some ways by these things.. but we are not limited by them and should not be judged by them. When people of this world realize that we are all here trying to enjoy a little happiness while we are here then maybe we can stop hating on each other for the most ridiculous things. The only reason Dr. Phil's advice seems sound to some in this example is because they believe confusion about gender roles is a problem... I ask why? Why do we have these roles? What purpose do they serve? My daughter is going to be a strong person capable of choosing any path in life she wants and I'll be damned if a gender stereotype is going to stop her. If/when I have a son, the same will go for him. We need more men in teaching, in nursing and as stay-home parents (maybe I'm biased here)... Men are just as capable of caring and nurturing as women and women can be just as tough and hard-headed as men.

I did some digging on the Dr. Phil's positions around gender issues and find nothing to indicate he is homophobic and he seems to give good advice (and more here) about homosexuality and he even went after the Vice President of Midland School District in Pleasant Plains, Arkansas who made some terrible comments about homosexuals last year. I just think he got it wrong on this one and I can't say I've ever been a fan of his approach.

No comments:

Post a Comment