No sissies, ladies or princesses here
Seconds later, "princess" - a gangly ballcap-wearing pre-teen boy - did indeed throw harder. Accurately, too, and his heckler took a splash in a carnival dunking tank.
A few minutes after that another princess - this one a girl wearing a pink "princess" shirt - required only one try to unseat the heckler.
The girl hadn't been around to hear the "princess" taunts, so at least the tank occupant had enough sense to know not to ridicule girls in their presence.
But what does it do to boys to hear themselves insulted with terms usually reserved for females? I'm sure that an occasional "princess" does not a hostile misogynist make. But I'm equally certain that we teach our children through our day-to-day actions. Using female descriptors to insult boys quickly contradicts any messages of respect we otherwise try to delivery.
The boys-as-girls slam certainly isn't a new fad.
I questioned a co-worker years ago for referring to his son as a sissy. "What do his actual sisters think when you say that?" I asked.
I called out a boss for denigrating the Sacramento NBA team as the Queens. "Surely we can find a way to insult the Kings without also insulting women" I said icily, ignoring the homophobic possibility in the quip.
I refuse to even say "wuss," because I remember the term's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" origins.
Not that I believe kids need insults, gender-neutral or otherwise, to learn though I'll admit to being far from perfect on that one. "Stop acting like a fool!" is my usual go-to.
But they'll never be sissies, queens, ladies, girls or princesses. Once in a while I will threaten them with pink, but that's only because it's been hammered into their heads since birth that pink is not just a girl's color. It couldn't be - Mom hates it, and she's a girl.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.