When I first saw the promotional material for a new “gender neutral” line of kids clothes, I found it quite moving. But then I took a step back. Is it really that revolutionary for girls to wear pants and muted colours, no matter what the soundtrack? Why does “gender neutral” have to mean “without any traditionally feminine signifiers”?
I did my best to answer these questions for The National Post:
Where is Adam Lambert’s line for Gap Kids, promoted with an upbeat commercial of young boys playing with dolls and doing ballet while wearing shiny sparkly glam clothes and lipgloss while Diamond Rings serenades us all?
If The Gap did this, I think everybody would have what my late Nan would call “a complete conniption fit.” Remember when J. Crew President Jenna Lyons appeared in a picture tickling her delighted son’s toes, whose nails she had just painted pink? It sparked a week’s worth of debates that saw actual doctors calling it “a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity,” as if anything described as a “trapping” should not obviously be abandoned immediately.
If gender neutral clothes are only made for and marketed to the parents of little girls, it is less a sign of gender equality and more an indication of the misogyny that is so ambient in our culture. There is such a devaluing of anything traditionally feminine that we’d rather chuck it out triumphantly than ever demean our boys with it.