The “Save the Princess” Message Hurts Boys, Too

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I have a 5-year-old little boy, a living room filled with boxes of soldiers, swords and Matchbox cars, and a complicated relationship with fairy tales and the princes and princesses who live in them.

A part of me loves it when my son decides to play princess. It does happen from time to time — when we break out the nail polish and the sparkly eye shadow; he brushes my hair, puts on my necklaces and we watch Sophia the First. I am excited when he wants to explore a different part of himself, and I secretly enjoy this kind of activity. He is an only child and will always be an only child, and playing princess is something I know how to do without thinking. (Go figure!)

But then there are days when we sit down to play with his Playmobil figures and he announces that my princess figurine is not allowed to have a sword. “Why not?” I ask as I rebelliously attach a tiny gold sword to her hand, only for it to be ripped out again. “Because princesses don’t know how to use swords.” “So what am I going to do when the enemy attacks?” “Well, you just stay in the castle and wait for me, O.K.?”

Oh, all right.

Read the full story on Motherlode

Copyright 2014, The New York Times Company.

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