The Rules And Restrictive Labels All Have To Go

When himself arrived back this morning after a night out and a swim on his drive home (my night was spent brushing up on my sleep-deprivation-torture-resistance training thanks to a teething baby) I jumped at the chance to slink away, flicking my mode to ‘off-duty’.  Where would I go?  What would I do?

Bed, head.

I was never one to take to the bed.  But then, I’ve never been so exhausted in possibly all of my life, so seems to me like now is probably the best excuse I’ll get.

So, I’ll put it this way.  I don’t think I’ll ever be big into pyjamas or lounge-wear.  And having breakfast in bed, with all the crumbs and cold toast and hunched-sitting-while-balancing-a-wobbly-tray, I will never find enjoyable.  But I can absolutely see myself, as I currently do (cup of coffee, biscuit, two sections of the Sunday paper, phone, laptop and earphones) into the future.  There is zero travel (and therefore zero time-wasting) involved, it’s extremely ‘cosy’ (one of my top five ways of being) and the door has a key.  Even better, block out the odd screams and mysterious crashing sounds from downstairs, and I am totally alone with my thoughts.  It’s like a spa, without the awkward mingling with strangers in dressing gowns.

And exhale…


‘Me Time’ never felt so good, or so convenient.  I’ve taken to the bed – who would have guessed?

Which bring me to reflecting on some ‘news’ that surfaced during the week that a school in Greystones, following pressure from students, has made it OK for boys or girls to wear trousers or skirts – whatever they fancy themselves *.  When I heard this reported on some radio show or other during the week I was primarily confused that this was actually news.  I had obviously and mistakenly skipped a few social steps ahead.  What with equal marriage rights and positive conversations around transgender issues, I had assumed we were at a place where people could wear whatever they pleased where ever they wished.

The country obviously needs to catch up with it’s young people.

There are gender norms that we all conform to through choice, habit or social pressure.  But as a modern society, we need to peacefully let go of prejudices and judgements these ‘norms’ force on us.  We need to continue to seek to allow each individual to flourish – be a boy or girl who can wear a skirt to school, or wear trousers, play sport, be a stay-at-home-parent, show emotion, be creative, fall in love with a boy or fall in love with a girl, whatever… the rules and restrictive labels all have to go.

Why?  Because norms and labels are made to make you feel abnormal.  And if one little boy who has his heart set on wearing a holy communion dress rather than a suit on his big day can do so and feel loved and accepted as a member of his family and community then, as Cyril Farrell might say ‘What the hell is wrong with that?’.  I use the example of a little boy because little girls are often accepted when they do ‘boy-ish’ things because ‘boy-ishness’ is revered and being a tomboy is often seen as a cute phase.  ‘Girlishness’ on the other hand is not encouraged as girl-associated behaviour is not valued.

On that note, can we shelve the idea that any straying from traditional boy/girl-associated behaviour will ‘make you gay’?  Thank you.  Because that’s really annoying.

There are countries where women aren’t allowed to go to school or attend a doctor.  Where women aren’t allowed to drive.  Where morality police will hit you over the head in a public street if you are not accompanied by a male relative or don’t have your head scarf properly adjusted or just for the craic, because you’re a certain gender.  Closer to home, no doubt women wearing trousers was touted as the downfall of humanity.  You may say these examples and comparisons are extreme, but really they’re not.  Because at the heart of all gender-based rules and norms is a marginalisation of individuals.

The reality is, maybe – just maybe – one or two male students will really love that they could possibly wear a skirt to school.  Maybe one or two will.  And isn’t that brilliant?  Immediately, we will wonder what all the fuss was about.  My dream is that the school’s male rugby team will set a skirt-wearing-tough-guy trend, but the reality of the Irish weather may work against me on that one.  Anyone else remember wearing 2+ pairs of tights to school to fend off frost-bite?

The world can be a cruel, cold place.  Some positive gender-bending and a rebellion against gender norms is the least we can try to foster in tomorrow’s grown-ups because, frankly, there are bigger fish to fry.

A couple of hours to myself, swanning around in bed, and I have an opinion on everything.

Now to nap.



Kids on one side, time to think on the other



*The exact details are a bit sketchy, but you get my drift.

2 thoughts on “The Rules And Restrictive Labels All Have To Go

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