Because of course, they do.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about gender roles. They still bite me in the ass. When the Boy was born? Oh, there would be no guns, no Power Rangers in my house. But damned if that kid didn't learn to love them despite NEVER SEEING THEM! After about the 5th time of doing the heavy sigh treatment with another mother about how despite my best efforts to nix the whole male aggression stereotype, the Boy kept wanting to play guns and so forth, I realized--shit. How would I feel if someone in power, especially the person I loved and looked to for identity, to an extent, kept telling me, directly or indirectly, that the stuff I liked was awful and I was wrong to like it? So that was the end of that. I still don't like it that the Boy likes to play these typically "boy" things, but I'm not going to make them into bad things. Maybe, sometimes, our gender does influence us to like/dislike certain things and that's okay.
And now, at about the same age, the Girl is sticking the "I want to be beautiful and a princess" thing in my face. What interests and scares me is how much more willing I am to pat her head and say fine than I was when the Boy was in his "gender-appropriate" phase. Because what it comes down to is that I want both my kids to know that they can like whatever they like, as long as they aren't hurting anyone else. And sometimes they'll like "girl" or "boy" stuff, and sometimes they won't. The Boy really likes to paint his nails. I'm okay with that, but I find myself wanting to do it only on the weekends. And that makes me mad at myself. I'm less evolved than I think I am. I have to be aware of my immediate reactions, because I don't like them at times.
We had a conversation the other day about why people of the same sex should be able to marry whomever they want. "But when I wanted to marry a boy," the Boy said, "everybody said I couldn't." "Well," I explained, "a lot of people don't like the idea because they say that isn't the way it's supposed to be, but just because it isn't usually the way it is doesn't make it wrong. Different isn't wrong, but a lot of people think it is because different scares them."
I want people in this country to have the right to love each other with equality. My state is working to get an initiative on the ballot this November that will, if passed, grant expanded rights to same-sex couples, things like insurance and adoptive/inheritance rights. Reading an article about the issue, I saw a great quote from a woman working for these rights. In a nutshell, she pointed out that same-sex couples are not eroding marriage. Money woes, infidelity--these things erode marriage. How the hell can two people loving each other and committing themselves to that relationship erode someone else's relationship? How can parents turning their backs on their own children because of those children's sexuality be "pro-family values"? How can people spout hate and fear and then claim to follow Jesus in the same breath? Jesus! The guy who liked to hang out with tax collectors and prostitutes and bitch out the religious right of his time??? It makes no sense.
If you want to help the institution of marriage, make it possible for ANY couple to afford decent housing, medical care, and child care (or prevention). You can't tell me that Mr & Mrs Blow's marriage is going to be threatened more by the lesbian couple next door than by the fact that they can't afford to take their kids to the doctor when they're sick, that they both have to work ungodly hours to make ends meet, that they constantly worry about money, and that their kids spend afternoons unsupervised because of all that. But that's just what a very forceful faction in this country is trying to make voters believe. And it's working!!! It astounds me.
I can't even bear, sometimes, to think about the incredible amount of strength and pain that must make up the lives of my friends who just want to be a family. I don't know where you stand on the issue, but you go read the words of these men and women and then tell me they don't deserve that right. Just be forewarned--if you do? I'm kicking your ass. And this year, if I accomplish nothing else, I'm going to help fight for equal rights for every couple. And I'm going to paint my Boy's nails, if he wants me too, while the Girl plays in the mud while wearing her Cinderella dress.