The dad who wears a skirt

19 Oct

Have you heard of him? He’s the guy who “[got] all skirted up to support [his] son, who likes to wear dresses and skirts in public” (http://www.stylelist.com/nils-pickert/skirt-dad_b_1917003.html).

After writing about this decision for the German magazine EMMA, Nils Pickert notes that:

Many people read the original EMMA piece and thought well of me; others were pissed off or disgusted by my alleged “sissy” behavior. Others still presumed base motives — suggesting that I was trying to pull a stunt at the expense of my son  — or accused me of bad parenting for encouraging his temporary dissocial preference.

A 5-year-old boy who wants to wear dresses and skirts once in a while was compared to a child who spits, fights or poops in public–always with this rhetorical question tacked onto the analogy: “Who would be stupid and irresponsible enough to support this kind of conduct?”

Wow. Wearing a skirt is like pooping in public. (The inadvertent sexism of that analogy is powerful.)

Of course, there is a thread in the negative responses that could be motivated more by fear than inherent gender-closemindedness: the fear that your child could be hurt socially, emotionally and physically for crossing gender lines that other people rely on. But whether motivated by genderism or not, this reaction ultimately supports and reinforces traditional gender stereotypes and intolerance.

On the good wow side is Pickert’s response to the responses to his original article:

These comparisons just don’t fit. My boy has a big sister whom he loves a great deal. Naturally, he inherits her skirts and dresses — and sometimes he likes to put them on. I have no intention whatsoever of getting in his way.

Of course, the work of teaching our son how to interact with people — and how to get along with society and understand its rules and patterns — is mainly up to his mother and me. But he is my son, not my property. I don’t own him. If there is such a thing as owning a human being, he owns me. I made him, I dreamed of him, I longed for him; now he is in my life, and I am responsible for him as long as there is breath in me. So I teach him the rules and what to do with them. Not every rule makes sense. Some rules tell us to behave with violence and cruelty to other human beings, even if we have a distinct feeling that our actions toward them are wrong. It is not OK for anybody to mess with my son about his outfit. Hence I wear dresses and skirts so that any person who has a problem with that and feels the necessity to express his or her resentments can mess with me.

Since I am an adult, people should feel free to call me out on my decisions. In this case, if you do, I will confess that I don’t particularly like wearing skirts or dresses. I’m like a soccer mom who doesn’t love the sport — but does love her kids. I couldn’t care more about my boy being a happy, self-assured, compassionate person. I couldn’t care less about the choices he makes on the way to becoming that person — as long as they cause no harm to himself or others. The ability to make these choices is his birthright — a right that I should help him to exercise, since I am responsible for his birth.

So basically, this is the story: Some father trying to support his son.

For you German-reading folks, here’s the original article: http://www.emma.de/ressorts/artikel/kinder-jugendliche/vater-im-rock/

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