It's a long-held fact that little girls and little boys are different. Little girls are supposed to play with Barbies, My Little Ponies, and Easy-Bake Ovens and walk the line between future actress/supermodel/diva and superhousewife-in-training. They like pink and purple. Little boys are supposed to play with G.I.Joes, Transformers, Power Rangers (I'm clearly dating myself with all these references) and either be future sports heroes/astronauts/etc or skilled-laborer-in-training. They like anything other than pink and purple.
What happens to kids who deviate from the norm?
I have a huge problem with the idea that girls are supposed to like one thing and boys have to like another. I'm a lesbian, yeah, but I played with Barbies and My Little Ponies and I was a girly little girly girl. I conformed to all the societal norms, I loved pink and purple. It's not about being gay or straight, weird or normal. What I've noticed in teaching is that boys and girls are trained from birth to believe that "this is for you, and this is not for you, and it's not acceptable for you to cross the line." A girl gets teased for liking robots. A boy gets teased for wanting to play with My Little Ponies.
Read the last two sentences again. I bet you probably giggled a little, or thought about giggling, at the bit about My Little Ponies. Why? There's something in the way we were raised that separates boys from girls, and it follows us our whole lives. And while it's semi-acceptable for a girl to like a boy's things, it's completely unacceptable for a boy to like a girl's things. This continues on through adulthood, these adults have children, and the cycle continues. The media perpetuates it. We see it all the time, particularly in this idea that boys are completely resistant to anything that girls like. Whether it's the color pink, Barbies, Hannah Montana, or any book featuring a girl as a main character, it's just not cool for boys to like it. It's gay. It singles out the boy as an object of ridicule.
I don't like this trend and I don't know what can be done about it. It's too ingrained in our culture. There will always be boys who complain about take-home toys being "girl colors," who whine whenever something is pink, who find it necessary to make loud noises of disapproval at the mention of anything feminine. It's part of our hypermasculine male culture and it's perpetuated by parents who ... what? Are they afraid of their sons being gay? I don't know. Are they completely controlled by media images of Male and Female? I don't know. It bugs me, this idea that boys and girls are trained that they're different. It keeps them from identifying with one another at a really young age... and most boys are taught a disdain for all things feminine from the time they're toddlers.
And for those boys who like "girl" things ...
I once did a birthday party for a child where the final event was teaching the kids how to make homemade slime. There were color choices: I had green, and I had pink. As an example, I made pink slime. When I went around to give kids colors, all of the boys chose green. For the girls, it was mixed. One little boy, the birthday child's younger brother, fidgeted and mumbled and eventually said "green." I gave him his green slime and thought nothing of it until his mother came and asked me if I still had the example slime I made. I stared at her and asked why. Slightly suspicious----though honestly, what the hell do I care if someone takes my example slime? The mother then proceeds to explain to me that the little boy (age four) liked the pink slime and really, really wanted pink slime... until he saw that all the other boys were making green slime. He was afraid that the other boys would tease him.
Just breaks my heart.
Why can't we like what we like without fear of peer pressure telling us we are less male or less female? A married, heterosexual friend of mine is completely open about the fact that he freaking collects My Little Ponies. Why? Dunno. Don't care. Does there need to be a reason? There needs to be more of that in this world. World peace starts with gender neutrality. Real men like pink.