Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jinkies! Can Mystery Inc. solve the Case of the Mommy Blogger Controversy?!

Over the last few days I've had a few email exchanges with friends about a controversial post entitled "My Son Is Gay."

In case you aren't familiar with the post and the hullabaloo here is the Coles Notes version: A woman (using the alias Cop's Wife) wrote about her five-year old son wearing a Halloween costume (Daphne from Scooby Doo) to preschool. Within days the post had over 40,000 comments, and had been read by 2 million people. The lesson to be learned: never write a post with an inflammatory title when people have overdosed on American political rhetoric and want to be distracted from things that really matter.

My biggest beef with the post is the author incorrectly equates cross-dressing with homosexuality. There is no correlation between homosexuality and transvestism. Nor is there any statistical proof that dressing in drag is an early indicator of homosexuality. But I suppose, "My Son Is Possibly-Transgendered (Or Not)" wasn't provocative enough.

Setting aside the author's propagation of a falsehood, I object to her allusion that the three mothers (who spoke to Cop's Wife at the school, and whom she casts as her literary foils) are motivated by homophobia. I'm not homophobic, but I probably wouldn't react positively to the sight of a five-year old boy wearing a Daphne costume. I wouldn't judge Daphne-boy -- after all, he doesn't understand the implications of his actions -- but I question Cop Wife's parenting philosophy.

Part of being a good parent is socializing children to societal norms. I teach my kids to respect the elderly, wait their turn in line, wear undergarments, and not floss their teeth in public places, to name but a few. Some of these rules are taught by setting a good example (Oh, how I do miss my early-20s ritual of Bra-Free Sundays) and others I state directly ("When the nice senior citizen suffering from emphysema gives you Halloween candy, do not thank her and tell her she sounds like a zombie."). Parents should protect their young child from ridicule and malice by putting limits on behaviour that is contrary to society's normative standards, regardless of the child's sexual identity or the parent's political agenda. By encouraging (the boy had reservations about the costume, and Cop's Wife goaded him into sticking with it) her child to wear the costume and then posting about the incident, Cop's Wife behaved irresponsibly. I don't always agree with our society's rigid rules about gender-appropriate behaviour and I frequently deviate from stereotypically female behaviour, but I'm not going to use my underage sons as tools to alter Western society's gender constructs, or win the approval of my left-leaning peer group.

Things are probably pretty tough for Daphne-boy and his mom right now. I don't think Cop's Wife could have predicted the attention the post would garner. But that doesn't temper my disapproval.

I wonder what will happen to Daphne-boy.

Regardless of his sexual orientation, will he be teased about this costume and this controversy for years?

Will he hate Halloween when he's a grown up?

Will he resent his mother?

Does anyone share my opinion that the blog's author can not be an anti-bullying advocate, because via her blog she is bullying/shaming/condemning the other mothers?

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I've hidden the comments for this post because they were generating some odd traffic stats.  Go away, deviants!