A lot of people apparently.
We're standing in line at Toys 'R Us. My affirmed daughter is buying a big pink meanie--a Lots-o-Huggin' Bear. Why the bear is popular I do not know as his character is a grumpy traitor on Toy Story 3. In front of us in the check-out line is a man with two little girls sitting in a shopping cart full of toy trucks. "My daughters both love trucks, can you believe it?" I answer simply, "Yes."
A few days later I am at an arboretum. It's full of tree houses and one has a chest with dress-ups inside. A woman is there with two young children, an older girl and a maybe four-year-old boy. He is wearing a knight's chest armor and a pink ballet tutu. "He doesn't usually dress like this," she hurries to say apologetically. "Why would that matter?" I ask.
At my boss's house her visiting cousin jeered at his 6 year-old son who was doing cartwheels, "What? Do you wanna be a cheerleader when you grow up?" He repeated similar comments for a few minutes in vein, clearly angry that his son might enjoy doing whatever he felt was fun. (Presumably he should enjoy whatever his dad thought was fun?)
It's people around us and it's the media, too. Many were in an uproar when J. Crew's President and Creative Director Jenna Lyons sent out an email ad of her painting her son's toenails hot pink. "Lucky for me I ended up with a son whose favorite color is pink." The ad was trying to be inclusive but people across the country were upset about what they labeled her aberrant behavior. Clearly many people across the country think pink is contagious and will make our sons gay.
On the other hand, the characters on Seinfeld hurry to qualify when they deny to a reporter they're gay, "Not that there's anything wrong with that!" Yet when Jerry's father reads the article about his son and believes it, he yells at his wife, "It's those damn culottes you made him wear when he was five....looked like he was wearing a skirt for crying out loud!"
The latest bizarre ad for laundry detergent shows a fifties' style mother in a skirt in a pink room lamenting that her daughter wears dirty camouflage and plays with trucks. She's upset that Tide keeps her daughter's clothing clean.
I still for the life of me can't understand how our society developed such strict ideas of gender roles and why many use violence against those who step outside those roles. More tough a nut to crack is how to work towards a greater acceptance of the gender spectrum. I heard Kevin Sessums, author of Mississippi Sissy, in an NPR interview. He said that because there are actually more gays being comfortably out in society and on TV, they are seen more, and so the haters are nastier. (Update: Janet got hit on the head with an umbrella today at school.) Now we're seeing more trans people too, such as Chaz Bono, son of Sonny Bono and Cher, who is in the new ABC reality show Dancing With the Stars. We talk about our families to let people know we're out there and hope we are keeping them safe by educating rather than putting them in danger.
Who cares? We all should.