Apparently, these days a boy being called a "fag" or "gay" in school is the ultimate kiss of death in terms of coolness, to the point that some kids are being driven to kill themselves once they've been pegged with these epithets. And that all that it takes to be called one of those terms is to care about school, your clothes, or have an ounce of effeminate characteristics.
While I am all for "girls can be anything they want," I've been a bit disturbed by the lack of progress in acceptable boy behavior as a society. They really do seemed to be trapped in a really monosyllabic note in terms of what's ok, and that sucks.
I read in "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan that American suffragette Lucy Stone's mother cried upon learning the sex of her latest child, "Oh dear, I am so sorry it's a girl. A woman's life is so hard." I wholeheartedly believe that was true before, but I think it is definitely less so now.
These days, I just think it's hard to be a kid. Every time I see a kid, and I think about having one of my own (thoughts about that here), I get paralyzed with fear that my kid will be teased mercilessly for one reason or another. It's a miracle I got through my childhood pretty unscathed, but I think that was a combination of 1) my personality, 2) my parents, 3) my community, 4) my particular school, 5) my particular combination of classmates, 6) sheer luck.
How can I make sure that same tenuous balance happens for my kid? I think it's really important to live somewhere that's diverse and urban, so that a lot more behavior is acceptable for both boys and girls, and there is a lot of shit to do besides gossip about someone.
My high school was over 3000 people. No one could ruin your life because at any given moment only 500 people even knew who you were, the other 2500 didn't know or care about you. You could only become a pariah in a small distinct group and it wasn't too hard to just...move to another. On top of that, there were so many people that in general, you could ALWAYS find 4 other people who were as unusual as you and be friends. Groups of dudes who played D&D and Magic all through lunch? Yeah - about 10 of them. Kids who cared about school and took lots of AP classes? About 60-100 of them. Cheerleaders? I didn't know who they were, and I didnt' care. Football players? Pretty much the same. Kids trash-canned and thrown into lockers? Never happened. A guy my year even catapulted to popularity for getting a leading role in a play with the Drama Club. Band kids weren't even considered lame. They were a good band.
Can I find a school like that for my kid and make sure it's a pretty healthy, functional place? Why do I wonder this even if I am sooooo ambivalent about whether I even want one, ever?
Because I overthink things and am crazy :).