GREETINGS, Comrades. Today we’re chatting about Grayson Bruce, the nine year-old North Carolina fan of My Little Pony who was bullied by schoolmates when he brought a rainbow-colored backpack to his Buncombe County elementary school.
If you have a young child, you know about My Little Pony. It’s a huge deal. People of all ages, including grown men, attend conventions dedicated to the show’s characters and culture. Hugh Johnson over at the Denver Post has written a splendid, must-read article about this phenomenon. Here is his description of My Little Pony’s culture and message:
At the core of the brony story is a culture of acceptance, happiness and friendship. It’s a culture of inclusively where men and women can have fun without a judgmental atmosphere. It’s a culture that forced me to take a step away from my caricatured view of manhood: the prideful, desensitized male who unfailingly attracts women with his body spray.
Now, even though I’m obviously a hunky, manly man who indeed attracts women with my magnetizing scent, I’m going to side with Hugh Johnson’s closing words: “I do support positive change. My Little Pony is redefining manhood and that deserves a brohoof.” When Grayson’s story first appeared in the news, I did some quick math. He’s nine, which means that he was born around 2005. His mother, Noreen, could be of any age between late 20s and late 30s. Let’s say she had Grayson at age twenty-five, and that she’s now thirty-four. That puts her own birth year at 1980.
I mention this because the world is changing, to be sure, but holy molly does it change slowly. The nine year-olds of Buncombe County – ten points to you if this makes you think of H.L. Mencken, and five if you remember Don Yelton – have absorbed the same pink-and-blue nonsense that I was absorbing in the 1960s, when the last of the glaciers were melting. That’s another generation lost, and the battle deferred.
The good news is that the world rallied to Grayson’s dignity and the school walked back its effort to pre-empt bullying by banishing its “triggers.” Rather than telling the boy to leave his provocations at home, the school is now negotiating a solution which will accommodate his interests and deal with the issue at hand, the bad behavior of classmates. This sounds to me like a proper adult outcome. Hoo-rah!
Oh, but this business of change. I went sleuthing about and had no troubles finding parents who would never, ever allow their boys to wear a rainbow-colored backpack. They worry about the feminization of boys, the decline of the family and (I write this without even a touch of irony) the collapse of Western Civilization. Ah, but for the strong hands of their uncle, who knew how to fix a motor and skin a moose, and who was rugged and handsome and liked being a man just fine, etc. Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.
There is a certain admirable type of fellow who in former days went about under the rubric of “A Gentleman.” He opened doors for ladies, eschewed self-pity, provided for his family, and defended his honor, with fisticuffs if necessary. If he’s a dying species, and I doubt this is the case, the blame can’t be charged entirely or even especially to “feminization.” The style of manhood is precisely that, and like all styles it changes. Anyone with historical consciousness knows that it was once manly for a European male to wear girdles, jewels and powdered wigs. In the Elizabethan age, shapely legs were the thing, and a man would fill out his stockings with meal. And he wouldn’t even get bullied.
My theory is that some of us are just plain a-scared of what might happen if we’re not vigilant at policing the rules of gender. Our boys will take up the homosexual lifestyle, our girls will say no to making babies, and the world will end. Somewhere, lurking in this fear, is a religious notion of abominations against nature, an idea held even by some who are not especially religious but who have grown up in a culture founded on Puritan morality. This is likely the chief reason that change comes so slowly to America, fear being an especially obstinate impediment. But it does come.