On five-year-olds and gender roles.

Say you’ve got a five-year-old son who isn’t conforming to traditional gender roles. Specifically, he likes to wear skirts and dresses instead of the customary pants most little boys wear. Do you try to convince him to dress traditionally or do you allow him to cross gender lines in his clothing choices?

That’s the choice Nils Pickert of Germany faced with his own son:

Nils Pickert and his son.

The pair used to live in the well-to-do borough of Kreuzberg in cosmopolitan Berlin, where there was little or no reaction to Mr Pickert’s son wearing dresses.

The issue would simply spark debate among parents, he said, over whether allowing it was ‘wise or ridiculous’. For open-minded Mr Pickert, it was never even a question.

He would sometimes dress in a skirt or dress himself, during mild weather.

When they moved to a ‘very traditional, very religious’ little town, however, Mr Pickert’s son became too embarrassed to wear women’s clothing to nursery school – and asked his father if he would dress up again.

‘I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts,’ said Mr Pickert. ‘I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.

‘After all, you can’t expect a child at pre-school age to have the same ability to assert themselves as an adult completely without role model. And so I became that role model.’

Personally, I think Mr. Pickert is a great Dad for encouraging his son to be who he wants to be, but it appears I may be in the minority judging from the reaction in the comments around the web.

From the Daily Mail comment section itself we get the following:

What?? This is sick! They both need to see a doctor and the child to see a psychologist.

– Rob, England, 30/8/2012 13:51

what .hes a little boy not a girl he should not wear girls clothes hes 5 for gods sake why is the father encouraging this its sick.

– bee, plymouth england, 30/8/2012 16:24

OMG what is the world coming to with these people who seek to feminize their male children? Seriously, the child should be removed from the home.

– Action Bob, The Universe, 30/8/2012 16:01

And then from the comments on the FARK for this article which had a HERO tag associated with it:

Hero tag? Try Dumbass tag.

A good father wouldn’t let his five year old son dress like a girl at school or anywhere else.

– DmGdDawg

Sigh, what a failure of a parent. Your not helping your making it worse. Do you fix a leaking sink by saying, it isn’t the sink’s fault but it should be the kitchen that needs to accept the water better.

– Thisbymaster

Hero tag?

HERO?

How about a farking ZERO.

Part of being a parent is to keep kids from doing stupid shiat like, say, wearing a g’damn dress to school when you’re a 5 year old boy.

– Hagenhatesyouall

I was bit odd as a kid myself and I took a fair amount of shit for it. No, I didn’t run around in dresses, but I was the 80 pound weakling who got beat up on a regular basis and my biological father died when I was 5 so I tended to be a little off-kilter from those two things just to start with. I was also ADHD and didn’t know it and that alone is enough to make you feel like an outsider who doesn’t really fit in and I eventually got to the point where I embraced my weirdness and just accepted that I wasn’t quite normal. I suppose that’s why my initial reaction to this story was to cheer the dad for supporting his kid instead of trying to force him to be “normal.”

I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is. The kid is five years old. It’s not clear he even has a concept of gender roles let alone why some folks would expect him to conform to them. It’s similar to the uproar over the J. Crew catalog that had a VP painting her son’s toenails in it. Holy fuck, the Far Right had a fit over that with FOX’s own Dr. Keith Asshole Ablow declaring the kid would need therapy in a few years to deal with the horror of his own mother forcing him to paint his toenails a bright pink color.

I’ve said before, including in that entry about the J. Crew catalog, that I’ve been known to paint my own toenails from time to time despite being an adult heterosexual male. It gets worse than that though. Back when I was a teenager I had a Unicorn phase that would rival any teen girl’s obsession with the fantasy creatures. I collected statues, had posters, the whole shebang. As an adult I’m not as into them anymore (though my obsession over all things otter is still as strong as ever), but the years that I was into them doesn’t seem to have affected my manliness all that much. Of course you could argue that I’m not exactly a man’s man to begin with, but it’s not like macho men have never worn dresses. Again in that J. Crew entry I mention the fact that at one point it was common for kids of both genders to wear dresses up until age 7 including such notable examples as Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Pic of Franklin Roosevelt as a child in a dress.

Roosevelt before he went on to become President of the United States

Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? He turns out to be gay? That could happen regardless of whether he conforms to gender roles. Just look at the number of gay-hating Republicans putting on a manly front only to turn out to be gayer than the Village People when people aren’t looking. He could end up a transvestite? A number of men have managed to be quite successful while wearing women’s clothing. Perhaps he’ll grow up and want a sex-change operation. Again, that’s just a likely to happen regardless of what clothes he starts off in.

He might be more comfortable during hot summer days? Oh the horror! If only people would put so much energy into worrying about things that actually matter like whether he’s getting a decent education or whether the planet will be habitable by the time he grows up.

So the kid is a little different. Let him be different. We don’t all need to be the same.

[SEB Guest Post] Schools deny girls cervical cancer jabs on religious grounds.

It’s been almost three years (!) since I’ve written a Guest Post for SEB, but a recent news story here in the UK prompted me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write something.

Over here in the UK, some religious schools have opted out of offering free HPV vaccines to their students. HPV – the Human Papillomavirus – is linked to as many as 70% of cases of cervical cancer and is therefore offered, free of charge, to girls aged 12 and 13. Around 1000 women die from cervical cancer each year, so this vaccine has the potential to save hundreds of lives. And normally, it is up to individual parents’ to opt their children out, but these schools have made the decision to opt out of the vaccine for all of their students.

The HPV vaccine is controversial – not because of any side effects, but because HPV is a sexually-transmitted infection. Consequently, some parents opt their children out as they do not want to encourage sexual promiscuity, or feel that because their religion forbids sexual intercourse before marriage that this is incompatible with their faith.

The key problem is that a number of these schools have not informed local doctors that they have chosen to opt out. Consequently, should a child’s parent actually want their child to have the vaccine, it is not subsequently being offered by their doctor and so some children may miss out.

What is laughable are some of the reasons given by the schools for opting out, such as:

“pupils follow strict Christian principles, marry within their own community and do not practise sex outside marriage”

Because we know how likely that is. Regular SEB readers will know that abstinence-only sex education is not effective and actually results in a higher rate of unprotected sex – and consequently puts both men and women at risk of contracting the virus. Although the vaccination programme only targets girls, men can carry the virus and it while it frequently results in no adverse symptoms, carriers are at a heightened risk of other cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some handy information if you want to read more.

Should schools be allowed to put the health of their students at risk in this way, in the course of religious observance? And if so, should such schools be forced to make the effort to provide parents with the information they need to seek alternative sources of the vaccine?

It turns out that premature orgasm is a problem for some women.

From the Never-Thought-This-Was-A-Problem department:

Premature Orgasm Affects Women Too, Study Suggests – LiveScience

“At one extreme are women who have a complete control over their orgasm,” he and his colleagues write in a report to be published in the journal Sexologies. “[At] the other extreme is a group of women who report having a lack of control over the moment of orgasm, which occurs very early during intercourse, leading to personal or couple discomfort.”

You’d think premature orgasms for women would be a blessing considering that too many men concern themselves with only their own satisfaction and the fact that many women can experience multiple orgasms, but it turns out it doesn’t work that way:

One woman described her discomfort with her quick orgasms to the researchers as similar to what a man might feel in the case of premature ejaculation.

“I feel the same way men must feel about premature ejaculation and don’t completely see the difference — I finish very quickly, whereas my boyfriend doesn’t get a chance to, and it’s really starting to bother me,” she said. “Once I orgasm, I find it uncomfortable to continue, the mood changes and he ends up missing out, which I feel bad about.”

It’s a preliminary study and the authors want to see a larger one with more women done to see how widespread the problem is, but in the meantime they suggest women suffering from this issue talk with their doctors about it.

Primary School Gay Curriculum

Calif. District Creates Primary School Gay Curriculum

Monday, June 1, 2009 3:24 PM

By: Rick Pedraza

This is the headline for an article that describes how Alameda County, Calif, schools are planning to introduce lessons that will be designed to prevent bullying and teasing based on stereotypes. You can find the full article here: http://www.newsmax.com/us/school_district_same_sex/2009/06/01/220249.html?s=al&promo_code=7DC2-1 The way it is written indicates that many parents are upset:

Promoting gay, lesbian and sexual orientation should be a parents’ rights issue, parents say, and is not an appropriate topic for school children.

So it’s OK to promote bullying, but not OK to promote tolerance or inclusiveness? WTF?

Gay brains mirror differences found in brains of the opposite sex.

Don’t know if the headline gets across what I’m trying to say so I’ll just let the news article speak for itself:

Scans see ‘gay brain differences’ – BBC News

The brains of gay men and women look like those found in heterosexual people of the opposite sex, research suggests.

The Swedish study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, compared the size of the brain’s halves in 90 adults.

Gay men and heterosexual women had halves of a similar size, while the right side was bigger in lesbian women and heterosexual men.

A UK scientist said this was evidence sexual orientation was set in the womb.

[…] A group of 90 healthy gay and heterosexual adults, men and women, were scanned by the Karolinska Institute scientists to measure the volume of both sides, or hemispheres, of their brain.

When these results were collected, it was found that lesbians and heterosexual men shared a particular “asymmetry” in their hemisphere size, while heterosexual women and gay men had no difference between the size of the different halves of their brain.

In other words, structurally, at least, the brains of gay men were more like heterosexual women, and gay women more like heterosexual men.

A further experiment found that in one particular area of the brain, the amygdala, there were other significant differences.

In heterosexual men and gay women, there were more nerve “connections” in the right side of the amygdala, compared with the left.

The reverse, with more neural connections in the left amygdala, was the case in homosexual men and heterosexual women.

It pretty much speaks for itself. It’s not so much a lifestyle choice as a matter of biological development. For the folks involved in the study it’s pretty much a closed case:

“As far as I’m concerned there is no argument any more – if you are gay, you are born gay,” he said.

Of course this won’t stop any of the Conservative Christian groups out there who claim they can “cure” gay people of their sinful ways, but then reality isn’t an issue for those group’s decision making processes to begin with.

Article sent in by “emopunch”.

Professor Daniel Floyd on sex in video games.

This is a very interesting and entertaining video presentation by Daniel Floyd, a professor at Savannah College of Art and Design, in which he argues that the problem with sex in video games is that there isn’t enough of it. More specifically he argues that before games will be perceived as a respectable art form they’re going to have to find a way to address sexuality in a realistic and meaningful fashion to tell their stories. Check it out:

I’ve never been too worried about games being taken seriously as an art form, but that’s largely because I stopped giving a shit of people thought less of me for being a gamer a long time ago. Still I’d love to see games being taken seriously as an art form before I die. There’s already been more than a few games that managed to provide a story telling experience on par with any movie or book I’ve read and the number of such games will likely increase as time goes by. Considering the media whipped panic attack over the small and far from explicit sex scene in Mass Effect, however, I suspect it’ll be awhile before any developer will try to approach the subject in a serious manner.

Didn’t see this one coming. Apparently Dumbledore was gay.

JK Rowling says wizard Dumbledore is gay – washingtonpost.com

Speaking at Carnegie Hall on Friday night in her first U.S. tour in seven years, Rowling confirmed what some fans had always suspected—that she “always thought Dumbledore was gay,” reported entertainment Web site E! Online.

Rowling said Dumbledore fell in love with the charming wizard Gellert Grindelwald but when Grindelwald turned out to be more interested in the dark arts than good, Dumbledore was “terribly let down” and went on to destroy his rival.

That love, she said, was Dumbledore’s “great tragedy.”

“Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” she said.

The audience reportedly fell silent after the admission—then erupted into applause.

Rowling said she had read through a script for the movie adaptation of the sixth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and corrected a passage in which Dumbledore was reminiscing about past loves by crossing it out and scrawling “Dumbledore is gay” over it.

I never would’ve suspected that Dumbledore was supposed to be a gay character, but then I suppose that was probably the point. It should make re-reading the novels in the future a little more interesting as now I’ll be looking to see if there’s any subtle hints as to Dumbledore’s sexuality in them.

Update: Had to include the LOLCat once I saw it.

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE: Phelps to picket Sen. Larry Craig.

Do two wrongs make a right? Sometimes when they come up against each other it might be tempting to think so. At the very least it’s an occasion to pop up some popcorn and settle back in anticipation of the fireworks. Alas it appears I may have already missed all the fun:

Phelps’ Followers to Picket Sen. Craig :: EDGE Boston

In a press release dated Aug. 28, Westboro Baptist Church, located in Topeka, Kansas, exhorted followers to “Thank God for revealing a bit of truth about Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho; and, by a logical extension, about the United States Congress.”

Said the church’s press release, “Sen. Craig used his powerful office—(on loan from God, temporarily)—to oppose [Westboro Baptist Church], to speak against WBC, and to vote against WBC’s Constitutional rights of free religious exercise and freedom of speech.”

Now we know why he did that. Every member of Congress is either a fag or a fag-enabler,” he continued in the release. “God Almighty has now drawn back the curtain of hypocrisy and lies for all the world to see how fags and fag-enablers run the government at every level—starting at the top.”

Phelps believes that Craig’s purported sexuality was no secret to voters, the press or other legislators. The church would picket Senator Craig’s offices in Boise and in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11, respectively, “in religious protest and warning” with the message that, “God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Sen. Craig, and ldaho, and America.”

I’ve not said much about Sen. Craig as of yet because he’s still denying that he’s gay even though there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that he may very well be gay. If he is then he’s a hypocrite of the first order and if he’s not then the way he’s been treated by his fellow Republicans is pretty disgraceful considering that Sen. David Vitter has admitted to cheating on his wife with a prostitute and has largely been ignored by Republicans. Still, it’s fun watching Republicans being picketed by the likes of Phelps.

Link found via Canadian Cynic.

Siegfried and Roy announce what everyone pretty much already knew.

Here’s a big (non) shocker: Siegfried and Roy have announced that they’re… get ready for it…  GAY!

Siegfried and Roy announce they’re gay – People

According to The National Enquirer, the two are writing a tell-all book about their lives together, and in it they finally admit they were once lovers. When their affair ended, they remained partners and good friends.

Is this really news to anyone that is even remotely familiar with this duo? Hell I think the fact that they were gay was half the appeal of their act for a lot of people.

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Russia is one country that I have not traveled to, but it appears that it’s not my kind of place anyway, seeing how the country’s lower house introduced a bill seeking to criminalize homosexuality:

A bill introduced in Russia’s lower house will impose a five year prison sentence for anyone convicted of homosexuality.
Gay sex was illegal under the Soviets but was decriminalized in 1993 when Communism fell.

The legislation, introduced Monday by Deputy Nikolay Kuryanovich would bring back the old law, and make it a crime for gays to congregate – a provision that would bar gay pride parades or meetings.

This kind of medieval authoritarianism surprises me even for Russia, which we all know has a widespread history of political and social repression. I think someone needs to call up Mr. Kuryanovich and remind him of what year we’re living in.

Found via Dispatches From The Culture Wars.