|Would that look better in blue?|
Try, as I just did, typing the following string into Google’s search bar:
blue butterfly face painting toxic masculinity
I come up with pages of results, all referring to one story, now circulating in media social and conventional.
It is about a kid who asked to have a blue butterfly painted on his face at some local carnival affair, and his parents refused to allow it. They had the clown paint a skull and crossbones instead.
This seemingly trivial matter has been assigned a cosmic significance. It demonstrates where “toxic masculinity” comes from. It accounts for “male violence.” All because of a painted butterfly.
Isn’t this chaos theory or something?
I think the parents might have been too controlling in refusing the blue butterfly. But I can see where they are coming from. And it has nothing to do with inculcating in small boys a love of violence. That is pure fantasy.
True, their preferred image, the pirate’s skull and crossbones, seems to imply violence. But I doubt that is the message that would be taken by a young child. The immediate associations are freedom from restraints and adventure. See the opening scene of Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life.”
|Too violent for boys?|
Sure, elements of a pirate’s, or a cowboy’s, life involve violence. But then again, you can get violence out of a butterfly’s life too, if you know anything about Darwinian theory. A toss up, from either the kid’s or the parents’ point of view, on that score.
I find it hard to believe in any case that any parents anywhere would actually want their kids to be violent. For one thing, it would be obviously against the parents’ own interest.
Nor was the problem of the butterfly that it suggested the child was sensitive to beauty. It might be, given a certain kind of parent, but this has nothing in particular to do with sex roles. Few parents would really begrudge their son a butterfly collection, for example. An appreciation of beauty is actually built or inculcated into boys and men more than it is in women. After all, men are more likely to be attracted to beauty in a mate than are women.
No, the problem was in putting it on his face. In wanting to have the butterfly painted on his face, the boy seemed to draw attention to himself and present himself as beautiful.
Not cool. This is a privilege allowed only to girls. Girls growing up are told they are beautiful princesses; their egos are constantly stroked. Boys are not told they are handsome princes. The thought is nauseating. Describe it being done with a boy, and you assume he is being spoiled into becoming a monster.
The reality is, we are a lot tougher on boys than on girls, growing up. (And in adulthood, for that matter.) The discrimination is all on that side.
But then, there is something to be said for learning the difference between good and evil, success and failure, where your rights end and the rights of the other begin. This dos not come from constant praise.
Boys are raised to be moral.
Girls are raised to be violent if they do not get their way.
This has been socially acceptable in the past because, by the time a girl, being physically weaker, was old enough to really be a problem, she was generally someone else’s problem.
It is that attitude that should probably change.