It’s a known fact that many of the problems society faces today stem from our childhood experiences – the attitudes entrenched in us by our parents and those we learn from at an easily impressionable age while searching for our sense of self.
Following news of the horrendous violence occurring at a racist neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, one woman decided to share her thoughts on the roots of male anger and brutality, drawing on the toxic gender stereotypes that are forced upon girls and boys from birth.
Her story of what happened when a four-year-old boy asked her to paint a blue butterfly on his face at a picnic is being widely shared on social media, with just reason. It is hard but so important to read and share in a bid to somehow, some day change how we live together for the better.
By @boguspress, as posted on Twitter:
“Hey everyone, I’m a clown and I just got back from facepainting at a picnic and here’s my take on male violence in America:
“It starts young and it’s more than just letting boys play with guns. It’s how we shame them for feeling anything that isn’t anger.
“A four-year-old boy asked me to paint a blue butterfly on his face. Then his mom told me, ‘No, he doesn’t want that’.
“‘Butterflies are beautiful, he said that’s what he wants, shouldn’t I paint what he wants?’
“‘No give him something for boys.’
“She turns to dad, a big guy in a jersey and says accusingly, ‘Do you want your son to have a butterfly on his face?’ He says, ‘No’.
“Which, cool, let’s bring your husbands masculinity into it too. Because your four-year-old kid needs to know that his father would be ashamed too.
“I really tried you guys, but this woman was so scared of her son wanting a butterfly she made me paint a skull and crossbones on his cheek.
“When I finished the skull I said to kiddo, ‘You want a little blue butterfly too?’ He nods. Mom interrupts me, ‘You didn’t ask me.’
“I say in my kindest fuck you voice, ‘Oh I’m sorry, I thought this was for him.’
“‘I’m his mother. You need to ask me,’ she says.
“‘Sorry,’ I say and wave goodbye to the kid and I am. I’m sorry that he is not allowed to love something as miraculous and beautiful as a butterfly.
“I’m sorry that he was shamed for wanting to share in the joy that is the miracle and wonder of nature.
“I see this all the time and I really feel for these boys, because the girls don’t get it as bad. Being a tomboy is slightly more normalized.
“When girls want skulls or sharks the parents shrug and laugh like ‘Haha she’s a kooky kid!’ Because maleness and masculinity isn’t a sin.
“But when a boy wants to enjoy something for its beauty, they are told it’s not for them. Not in this house. Not in this family.
“We are teaching them that anger and violence are the only things they are allowed to experience. That to value beauty and elegance is shameful.
“I know that it was just facepaint but that’s sort of my point. Why in the hell are these parents shaming their boys over facepaint.
“Honestly don’t even get me started on the balloons.
“So the next time you are incredulous about how the government could shut down our national parks, or build the pipeline, or nuke the planet, think about what this four year old boy asked for, and what he got…☠️.
“The idea of maleness in the US is so entrenched in control and oppression that people need to incite violence in order to assert it.
“Let me be clear: I feel bad for the kids who grew up this way. But the men they became are not blameless. Blame them.
“But also: talk to them before it’s too late. Talk to men. Tell them it’s okay to feel. That is all.”