by Gwynn Guilford
Readers sound off about "pink boys":
Lisa Wade is far off the mark in her evaluation of boys with female gender presentation. The problem is that a key element of the girl gender role is "dress up" in general and mimicking adult female presentation in particular. Tomboys don't run around in business suits because boys don't, part of being a boy is not wanting to play fussy dress-up, not even a sailor suit. But they all run around in minimalist but still hyper-masculinized sports drag, and with gusto.
While it is not true of all girls, one need only point to the widespread phenomenon of girl beauty pageants to conclude that there are an awful lot of girls to whom one could apply the extremely loaded label of "hyper-sexualized drag queen" also.
As for observing the boys at a camp for gender-variant children, let's also keep in mind that must be a special occasion for them when behaviour still often suppressed is given full liberty. One must expect that in such a situation, the play may be a bit more elaborate and energetic than on a day-to-day level.
A different spin on that point:
There's an easy answer to why "gender-variant" (oooh my, what a term!) boys want to be women and their gender opposites want to be boys. It all comes down to toys and marketing.
Think about it. Most of the girl toys out there has to do with aiming the females towards adulthood. Think of kitchen sets, make-up sets, Barbies, even Bratz. There's a very concerted effort out there to convince girls that where the fun is, is in adulthood.
Now watch advertising for boys/men. Even for men, the fun stuff are meant for boys. I saw this growing up and hence my refusal to engage in any girl toys. I'm not surprised that "gender-variant" boys want to be women. As you pointed out, "77% of women in Generation X say they were tomboys as kids." Even girls don't want to play with girls' toys.
Yet another NYT magazine niche story. No real data, not a huge issue, very specialized and involving only a handful of cases. Not minimizing the challenges these kids face or the issues of how their parents handle them, but this seems like another NYT magazine story in search of a non-existent trend to a very minimal problem.