In this week’s installment of “How Much Sillier Can It Get?” we have some super-good news for you.
With all the bad news of late about stolen elections in Georgia and Florida, the stripping of Jim Acosta’s First Amendment rights, a junior Weinstein on the Supreme Court, and a president who is working overtime to stab democracy in the heart, there is hope. Celine Dion has come out with a fabulous new clothing line.
But wait, that’s not the really good news! She has given the world’s kids gender-free clothes. That sound you is hear is the angels singing. So, where should we start––with their ugliness or the idea’s silliness? Why not start with ugly.
A friend of mine, a mother of many fashionably togged kiddos, said these clothes are so dreadful it would be a human rights violation to force prisoners of war to wear them. Forget waterboarding. The threat of draping one’s body in this would set any enemy combatant’s lips a-flappin’ about every manner of national secrets. Nothing says “cool kid” like having the alphabet printed all over your school pants. But still, they are gender free, so there is that.
Take this one as well. Never mind that it’s a dress and the oppressive gender stereotyping that goes along with that. Or that every dress shown you is modeled by a girl. Talk about gender stereotypes.
But what girl, regardless of how much she wants to free herself from being taken as a girly girl, would ever give this ghastly drop cloth of a nightshirt posing as a dress a first look? I don’t mean to be unkind, but how else could you describe it? Only her ideologically motivated mom would see anything in it, and she’ll drop 74 bucks for the fleeting feeling of being a good social justice warrior.
It is obvious these clothes have little to do with making anyone look good. They don’t even seem to try. So let us move to the silliness of the idea.
Liberate Us From Oppressive Gender Norms, Celine Dion!
First, it’s Celine Dion who wants to free us from the so-called stereotypes and oppression of gender-based expectations. Celine Dion. It seems as if the jumbo-sized irony here is totally lost on her and her investors. This is a gender-neutral clothing line created and run by a woman who works overtime at being a real-life Barbie doll.
She is an industry-produced model that doesn’t exist in nature and millions of young girls feel less by looking at her because they know they will never achieve her look and allure. Could it be possible that body confidence issues and social segregation perpetuated by fashion elites are far more serious and pressing issues for our children than gender stereotyping? Ask any middle school teacher, principal, or pediatrician. They’ll tell you.
The second silliness is that Dion is seeking to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s a fabrication of the liberal mind that being male and female, and acting like it, is a serious issue of injustice. In the truly weird online advertisement for her clothing line, Dion is being chased through a hospital, tackled, and put under arrest by two officers. Why?
Well, after some pull-the-string, leftist puppet jibber-jabber about how “our children are not really our children,” Celine enters a hospital’s newborn nursery where, brace yourself, all the babies are neatly segregated in two separate rows of … pink and blue. Yes, she is going to liberate these babies, by threat of law, from the stifling straightjackets of pink and blue. A modern-day Harriet Tubman, this one.
But seriously, does the world really work this way? Does some nefarious force beyond our control really force the world into the narrow strictures of pink and blue? It does not. When you see an infant dressed up in a pink outfit with a little bowed band around the head, you can be sure of two things.
First, no one forced mom to dress her child in this way. No one. It wasn’t dad. It wasn’t the gender police who arrested Dion, not the late Phyllis Schlafly, not my colleagues at Focus on the Family. It wasn’t the other women at her baby shower. It’s certainly not because she doesn’t have other clothing options. She does so because she chooses to. Full stop. She does so because this is how she desires to present her baby to the world.
Second, dressing her baby so cute is one of the greatest delights of her life. We all know this is true. And it’s certainly not because she is too ignorant to realize how she’s oppressing her child, which is really the not-so-subtle implication of this commercial. Yes, moms, you have every right to be offended.
The third silliness is that what Dion and all the other gender-free ideologues are envisioning already exists. You can find hordes of clothes everywhere that send hardly any message about pink or blue. In fact, most people dress their kids in such clothes. They can be found at Gymboree, Old Navy, OshKosh, Gap Kids, and scores of other children’s clothing spots. They’re called onesies, jeans, overalls and T-shirts. This is what my own children wore most every day, stylistically interchangeable between them all, and they looked as cute as can be. Your kids are probably the same.
As well, our children went through their first 12 years of school at a very traditional classical academy where they’re required to wear uniforms. What might such a traditionalist school require? Khaki pants and red or green polo shirts or blue oxfords for both boys and girls. These are essentially gender-free clothes, and no one thinks it is revolutionary or radical in the least. As anyone knows, the school’s policy choice has nothing to do with gender-erasing but is in place simply to remove the distraction of fashion competition and student stratification. Dion’s duds do the opposite in both their design and price points.
We’ve Been Here Before and It Didn’t Work
Finally, we’ve been here before, and it’s never worked. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, plenty of hippie and feminist parents vowed to raise their kids in a gender-free environment. They gave their kids cross-gender toys and clothes. These parents freaked when they discovered their boys turning their play mops and brooms into guns and swords and the girls putting their Tonka dump trucks down for their afternoon nap.
When these same children came of age and were ready to choose their own styles, they chose fashions that said “boy” or “girl” in unmistakable ways. Can you name one gender-neutral clothing outlet in the shopping centers you frequent? The world of fashion is one of the most dramatically gender-distinct social institutions in the developed world, all due to that stubborn thing called nature. Humans across all cultures at all times have always chosen to employ gender-unique clothing and accessories as part of their wardrobes. Pick up any issue of National Geographic for the evidence.
This segregation actually grows more dramatic in the modern, developed world. Evolutionary psychologists have found over the last few decades that when people enjoy greater freedom—financially, politically, and culturally—men become more stereotypically masculine and women more stereotypically feminine in their clothing choices. This is more true for women.
Some years ago, the New York Times summarized the findings of personality tests in more than 60 different countries and cultures: “It looks as if personality differences between men and women are smaller in traditional cultures like India’s or Zimbabwe’s than in the Netherlands or the United States.” This is because, “The more Venus and Mars have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their personalities seem to diverge.”
This research was led by David P. Schmitt, director of the International Sexuality Description Project. He observes that as wealthy modern nations remove the old economic and political barriers between men and women, it appears that “some ancient internal differences are being revived.” When men and women have the social opportunity to move beyond traditional gender expectations and roles to become whatever they want to be, they actually become even more distinctly masculine or feminine.
Consider the biggest annual social events of some of our nation’s most enlightened theorists: the red carpet at awards shows. “Beautifully feminine” and “handsomely masculine” have no bigger, over-the-top evening in all of human existence. Dion has long been an extremely successful player there.
Just as moms dress their babies up the way they want, Dion and her strong, independent feminist peers dress as they do because they choose to, and because they find immense delight in doing so. Besides, the rest of the world loves watching them do it. It’s why the red carpet is not as much a conveyance into the event, but much of the event itself.
Humanity existing and celebrated as uniquely male and female is not a problem to be solved. It is power, independence, and wonder. For all their silly rhetoric, even the cultural elites understand this and it’s demonstrated dramatically every day, not by what they say, but by their own clothing choices.