Saturday, 2 April 2011

Bonnets for Boys

At what other time in the year are boys expected to dress up in pretty, flowery garments and proudly parade around their creations? Why is Easter Bonnet-making such an important part of Easter? Why do we encourage our boys to be manly, masculine, power ranging, sword wielding creatures for most of the time and then suddenly, at Easter, they have to forget all their boyish preferences and encourage femininity and, dare I say it, pastel colours?

Now I am not against boys displaying a more sensitive side and I positively encourage my boys to express their feelings and even cry (although this is becoming harder for them as they grow older and are more aware of society's disapproval of men crying). I am also not against them being creative - in fact I have spent the whole morning making cars, pigs and bowling balls and eyeballs out of clay with Max! I love watching them make and create.

What I find difficult is the expectation that boys will be able to forget their testosterone for a while and make a hat with yellow chicks, ribbon, flowers and other normally detestable items and then parade around wearing it. Why can't boys make Darth Vader hats or Power Rangers masks and parade them instead? Imagine the horror on the pre-school teacher's face when a little boy arrives ready for his Easter Bonnet Parade wearing a Monster mask complete with blood dripping down the sides. Or perhaps a 4 year old boy, obsessed with baddies (and yes, I have a particular 4 year old boy in mind...) wants to wear a hat depicting the meanest, ugliest, scariest baddie he can think of - would he be allowed to parade with the rest of the beautiful frilly bonnets? Would he win the competition? Even if he had spent hours of enjoyment creating it himself (with no parental help - unlike most of the other bonnets in the parade)? I doubt it very much.

This, in my mind, is another subtle attempt at discouraging boyish traits and squishing boys into a box that they simply do not fit. My disclaimer would be that I know some boys enjoy making said bonnets - that is fine. For the boys who do not, however, why not let them be themselves and create hats that symbolise who they are, not who they are expected to be?


design elements said...

i like your header!

s robinson said...

My boy hated making his bonnet - i said he didn't have to but he "didn't want his teacher to be sad". He did make it and wore it for about 5 minutes - but did say to the deputy head that he would rather not parade in it as he didn't want to win because it wasn't that good!
He's 5!