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Nils Pickert: Boys deserve a pink option!

Girls in pants playing soccer are everyday life. A boy, on the other hand, who likes to wear skirts and likes pink, is laughed at or insulted. Why are boys so much stuck in traditional gender roles as girls?

NILS PICKERT: Because the men pretty much missed emancipation. On the men's side, there is no counterpart to the women's movement, and therefore no reinterpretation of masculinity.

Well, men wear buns today, put on make-up, take parental leave …

Fathers who take more than two "daddy months" are rare. And on men's make-up it usually says extra that the person who uses it is still "strong" and "self-confident". Masculinity is thus constructed in delimitation and by devaluing the feminine. And the boys are trapped. If they are soft and caring, their masculinity is denied. They kill these aspects in themselves, but they lack the central skills that they need to find their way in life and in society.

Can you explain that in more detail?

The overtime loner is gradually history; Communication, consensus and cooperation skills are required. Unlike girls, boys hardly train these qualities, they are sometimes even trained off them. A kindergarten boy can still hug his doll. But at the latest when entering puberty, our sons experience that they are a "pussy" when, for example, they want to comfort a friend or be comforted themselves.

Isn't that a little black and white drawn? There are certainly men who show feelings or who – like you yourself – take care of their children as a matter of course.

Clear. But they are so rare that they are either celebrated as super fathers or laughed at as idiots. If we really want to live equality instead of just claiming it, we men have to move a lot more. So not only "help in the household" or "lose weight", but of course do your part. That means: not just chatting with friends in the pub about fatherhood, but wiping up the children's vomit at night and sitting around on annoying parents' evenings. Such a rethinking would be much easier to achieve if boys were already to learn that caring for and caring for them are good and important qualities. And otherwise, our narrowed image of masculinity prevents a lot of good.

What for example?

For example that the "Gender Die Gap" shrinks. In Germany, men die on average seven years earlier than women. In Sweden, where gender equality is concerned, there are fewer than four. Check-ups contradict the German ideal of masculinity. In addition, we consider it ultra-male to push one's own limits, for example at work. But at some point a man is broken. The chain that boys and men are attached to has direct consequences for our economy. In addition: jobs in nursing or toddler care are difficult to reconcile with the current masculinity construct. But men also belong in these jobs.

So if you want a different society, you have to support the softer boys?

Exactly. This has nothing to do with supposed "feminization". It's great when boys play soccer. Dance ballet, but it must also be great. You deserve a pink option. This is different from obliging them to do so. Everyone should be allowed to be himself.

You have seen for yourself that this is not always easy. One of your sons wore skirts at the age of five. He was stared at, ostracized, insulted. Do you understand parents who want to protect their sons from it and, for example, prohibit them from wearing skirts in public?

Of course, parents want to protect their children. But with a ban I would have conveyed to my son: You are the problem. But a boy in a skirt is never a problem. Rather, it is society, all of us, that cause him problems.

Instead of forbidding, you put on a skirt yourself and brought it to daycare.

He asked me for it and I did it. I realize that this is not an option for everyone. As a freelance writer, I don't have to justify my clothes to superiors. But what all parents can do is tell their children that they are perfectly fine and loved the way they are. Not anyway, but precisely because they are the way they are.

The boy is not yet protected from violence.

That's right, I was only able to offer protection to a limited extent. There is no complete protection against violence. I comforted my son and explained why some people cling to stereotypes. If he was insulted, I intervened.

There are certainly people who say: Pickert turns a mosquito into an elephant. There are hardly any such princess boys …

There is something in every boy that is called "female". And even if he was "just" an exception: Wouldn't it be our job to support him? We shouldn't put our stereotypes on our children, but rather change our image of men: skin a boy, that's male. If a boy is stroking, it is male. Because both do: a boy. Very simple.

Nils Pickert, 40, has four children between the ages of three and 14 and lives in Münster. In 2012 he put on a skirt out of solidarity with his then five-year-old son and caused a lot of attention. In his book "Princess boys" (Beltz, 18.95 euros) he wrote against gender stereotypes in education.

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