Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So Why Is "Pansy" an Insult?

As my dear regular readers know, I have two young sons. I teach women's and gender studies, so I might spend more time than the average parent contemplating how they're affected by prevailing ideas about masculinity. I try to let them unfold as they are meant to be, without a personal or political agenda. I teach them to use words, not blows, to settle differences (even if the words get loud sometimes). I want them to grow into kind and generous people with a reasonable share of happiness.

And yet, in some cowardly corner of my heart, I fear the day when one of them is called a sissy - or a pansy - if he refuses to swing a punch.

It's silly, isn't it? Because when you think about it, pansies aren't weak; they're not even the opposite of the most conventional notion of masculinity.

They can be subtly handsome.

They can strut an assertive, spunky personality.

They can be contemplative and subtle.

They can be blindingly bright.

And they can be tough, persistent survivors. This whole lot made it through an Ohio winter that gave us eleven (11!) snow days. (Granted, most of those were pretty bogus; I think the pansies survived them more unscathed than I.)

Which of these things should I not hope my sons will become?

Pansies and photos are mine - lucky me!


Sugarmag said...

I have also often wondered that about pansies. I am not sure if they are technically annuals or perennials, but they are pretty hardy. Yours are beautiful and I am sure your sons will grow to be wonderful men.

Sungold said...

Thanks, Sugar Mag. As for the botanical question - I believe they're biennials. I had a few come back a year ago, but that was a tougher winter.