Raising Trouble: All the Single Ladies

I know this was all over the Internet last week. But. But. But. If you haven’t watched it you must. It is incredibly sad and funny, and shows in such a chilling way how even the most well-intentioned adults force gender roles upon kids. (Don’t worry about the car safety aspect – distractingly horrifying unless you read the note in which the dad makes clear he is not holding the camera while driving.)

A three-year-old boy, dancing ecstatically with his sisters to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, is devastated when dad says to him, “You know, you’re not a single lady, right?” Obviously, cringingly wrong on so many levels. (Like, taken literally, how does it makes any more sense for the eight-year-old girls in the car to be singing that song than a three-year-old boy? )

But I love the father’s self-awareness, and the determination of the rest of the family to make it right. The older girls are so lovely - one cuddles him, while the other gives her father a deathly glare. The mom, hilariously, keeps reassuring the kid that he can be a single lady too – and of course she is exactly right. I used to be criticized for not correcting my son when he said he planned on being a mommy; after all, the literalists carped, he cannot actually grow up and be a mommy.

But until he was old enough to ask whether boys could be mommies, it seemed more important to emphasize life’s possibilities than its limitations. I love the way the family in this video tries hard to do the same for their aspiring single lady.

by Liza Featherstone
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4 Comments Have Been Posted

When i saw this it reminded

When i saw this it reminded me of my little brother. He was the youngest and only boy in our family, and would cry because he felt left out when we painted our nails, so our dad would let us paint his toenails only gruffly adding, "But no pink!"

Gruffly painting nails

My paternal grandfather had a prosthetic leg/foot thanks to Diabeetus.

He was in the Marines. In Vietnam BEFORE it got on the radar. (have a pic... somewhere)

Anyways, he loved his grand-daughters to pieces.

So we painted the toes of his prosthetic foot.

Sadly, he had a different one next time we visited.

Sometimes "manly men" can be so sweet when they let themselves subvert the gender norms.

And it probably was pink.

It Makes Me Think

about how we pass these gender roles down from generation to generation, how deep it goes and how subtle and pervasive it is. I've caught it in myself. Changing the ideas we have is not easy work and takes a lot of attention and dedication.

Of course, sometimes it gets funny. I recall a TV show some years ago where a young man talked about not forcing a sexual identity/gender role on his (male) dog. I recall thinking that the dog probably wasn't too concerned about having a gender identity and was more concerned about the silly outfits the young man kept dressing him in and the lack of regular walks. Still, I think it's an interesting illustration.

I know...

I liked too how the dad realized he had said the wrong thing and then backed up. And the expressions of the girls faces, like, Dad, you are an idiot.

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