My little boy won’t be wearing pink socks. Not unless I run out of any other colour, in which case it will just be practical to put whatever I can find on his little feet.
But until he’s old enough to make his own money and buy his own socks, he won’t be wearing pink socks on purpose.
I don’t want to deceive him, you see.
After all, he is a boy and that is one of those things in life we call a fact. These days there’s an awful lot of confusion about facts and it seems we’re intent on passing the confusion on to the next generation.
The gender neutral bits in baby stores, or online, are testament to that.
That’s the section where mums who don’t want to “push binary gender stereotypes and norms” onto their children can go to feel safe, and to exchange the latest gender jargon.
And they are perfectly welcome to do so as far as I’m concerned, it’s just that to me it will never make sense.
You see, my baby wasn’t pronounced male because he said he felt like one when he was born. (I know. I was there.) He was pronounced male for much more concrete reasons.
And those concrete reasons are deeper than skin. They are woven into the very fabric of his DNA.
So, he can put on as many pink socks as he likes once he leaves home, but it won’t change reality.
Besides all that, putting pink socks on my little boy does quite the opposite of what it is meant to.
It doesn’t expand his identity options, and it doesn’t offer him more choices. It simply teaches him that being a boy means nothing, and being a girl means nothing too. So instead of being given the gift of an identity, which he can shape and mould as he wishes when he grows older, he’s given the gift of being nothing, and that’s not a great gift at all.
But there’s a more important lesson than the difference between facts and feelings that I want to teach him too. And that is that our feelings are one thing, but what we choose to do with them is entirely another.
You see, I don’t just want him to know that he is a man when he grows up. I want him to learn how to choose to be a good man, even if he doesn’t feel like it.
I want him to choose to be brave even when he feels scared. I want him to choose to be honest even when he feels like lying, or to choose to work hard even when he feels like mucking about. I want him to choose to treat those around him with respect even if he doesn’t feel like it. I want him to choose to love and honour his parents even when he feels like they are utterly annoying. In other words, I want him to choose to do good even if he feels like doing wrong.
But he can’t do that if I teach him that being a man is only a feeling, because I’m teaching him that feelings, not facts or choices, define everything in life.
I’m teaching him that he a helpless victim of whatever emotion swirls through him each day.
And that simply isn’t true.
And that is why there will be no pink socks on purpose for my little boy.
This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz