A children’s entertainer has shared a thought-provoking story about an encounter with a little boy at a children’s picnic.
Sandra Markarian took to Twitter, writing: “I'm a clown, and I just got back from face painting at a picnic, and here's my take on male violence in America."
She continued: “It starts young. It's more than just letting boys play with guns, it's how we shame them for feeling anything that isn't anger.”
She went on to explain that a four-year-old boy had asked her to paint a blue butterfly on his cheek at the picnic. Sandra was about to carry out his request when his mum intervened saying, “No, he doesn't want that”.
Bemused, Sandra responded with, “Butterflies are beautiful, he said that's what he wants, shouldn't I paint what he wants?" The mother's answer was, "No, give him something for boys".
A 4yo boy asked me to paint a blue butterfly on his face. Then his mom told me "no, he doesn't want that."— Sanduhruh (@boguspress) August 12, 2017
She then turned to her husband and asked him, “Do you want your son to have a butterfly on his face?” He replied “No”.
An astonished Sandra wanted to give him a butterfly, but his parents were completely against the innocuous decoration.
“This woman was so scared of her son wanting a butterfly, she made me paint a skull and crossbones on his cheek,” she wrote.
Sandra explained: “When I finished the skull, I said to the kiddo, ‘You want a little blue butterfly too?’ He nods. Mom interrupts: ’You didn't ask me. I'm his MOTHER. You need to ask me’."
Sandra felt upset for the little boy, but there was nothing she could do.
“I'm sorry that he is not allowed to love something as miraculous and beautiful as a butterfly,” she wrote.
“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 normalised.
She turns to dad, a big guy in a jersey, and says accusingly,— Sanduhruh (@boguspress) August 12, 2017
"Do you want your son to have a butterfly on his face?"
He says "No."
“And when girls want skulls or sharks, the parents shrug and laugh like, ‘haha she's a kooky kid!’ Because 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'm sorry that he was shamed for wanting to share in the joy that is the miracle and wonder of nature.— Sanduhruh (@boguspress) August 12, 2017
“I know that it was just face paint, but that's sort of my point. Why in the hell are these parents shaming their boys over FACE PAINT?” she asked.
“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 the little boy who wanted a butterfly and got a skull and crossbones,” she concluded.
Sandra’s experience has made us sit up and think about the challenges young boys face growing up.
What do you think, mums?