Why I love Yohio

If you’re not familiar with Yohio, he’s an awesomely talented, teenage, Swedish musician, who taught himself fluent Japanese to rock out J-Pop style.

Oh, and he does it all dressed up like a pretty doll.

Check out his music vid and tell me this isn’t hot…

Now I’ve introduced Yohio, let’s backtrack a little to a couple of events that have stuck with me. The first is a personal experience from a local fair I was at this year. I was selling off some of my “seconds” products cheap at a community market, and this gorgeous boy, probably about 4 years old and dressed as Superman, was fishing through the “treasures” (his word), the basket full of my art pendants that had slight flaws. He’d picked out one of Bloddeuwedd, who he called the Pretty Lady, and was admiring it when his mum came up. She sighed, and reluctantly agreed to get one for him and pick one for his brother, seeing how attached the boy was to the Treasure. But she said he couldn’t have Bloddeuwedd, his dad wouldn’t like him to have that one, they had to find something better for a little boy. They spent 20 minutes negotiating to try and find a compromise, something he liked but that wasn’t too girly. He kept asking if he could have the one with the pretty lady.

When they finally decided, the mum paid and left, and the boy lingered, looking back at the first one he picked, the one he really wanted. I gave it to him for free. And he gave me a massive hug in return.

I felt crushed that such a sweet, sensitive little boy was going to be brought up to think he can’t express any feelings or desires that might seem too girly.

It reminded me of this amazing blog from Nerdy Apple about her 5 year old boy who wanted to dress up as Daphne from Scooby-Doo for Halloween, and the response that it got- http://nerdyapple.com/my-son-is-gay/

People don’t think twice when women dress as men, either in day to day life (women in pants is so normal now it’s stranger to see them in skirts) or for costumes. But for a man or boy to dress like a girl? Society still seems to think there’s something wrong with that.

As a writer, a woman, and a feminist, I’m always interested in the concept of Strong Female Characters, but too often in stories, this is boiled down to a female character being “kick ass”- she’s violent, tough, and displays characteristics of a stereotypical Male character. I don’t like this concept that women have to be like “men” (I’m using the cultural stereotype of “men” when I say “men”) in order to be strong. I also don’t like the reverse implication that having characteristics considered to be womanly is somehow weak.

And there’s the horrible underbelly of it all- That it’s seen as good for women to aspire to being more like men, but it’s not OK for men to want to be more like women. It reeks of the notion that women are inferior to men.

This is such an antiquated view it makes my head hurt, and I know that I’m just as culturally brainwashed. I’ll dress my little girl up in blue and go out with her, but I know if I had a little boy, I’d be much less likely to dress him in pink and go out. But at least I’ve realised it, and can try and change, and hope that the next generation have a better view of gender equality.

And so, this is why I love Yohio. This guy does what he wants to do, dresses how he wants to dress, is brave with his style and committed to his art- now THAT is a strong character.

11 thoughts on “Why I love Yohio

  1. Amy says:

    Is it just me, or is a little boy wanting to look at a ‘pretty lady’ actually really typically ‘boyish’ anyway? Maybe he’s just so frikkin’ macho that he fancies them there ladies even at four. What a stud!

    Serious though, this stuff makes me really upset to hear. Everybody (but kids in particular) should be encouraged to express themselves however feels right.

  2. Ceridwen says:

    Hi Selina!

    Gosh, how people can be mean! And also quite unimaginative! A 4/5 year-old wanting something girlish doesn’t actually mean that he’s gay! Even if it does, so what! Maybe he just thinks that is cool and he isn’t silly like some “grown-ups” who think that wearing pink or blue makes you a better or a worse person.

    While I was reading your post, I thought the mother should have bought what her son wanted and have told the father exactly what Amy commented, that he had fancied the girl. 🙂

    Thanks for mentioning the post at Nerdyapple. I felt like crying while I was reading it. Regardless of how many great people there are around, what a rotten society we live in that a 5 year old already knows he must fear being ridiculed! I hope more people like Sarah (Nerdyapple) will teach their children to respect others and to be strong in order to be themselves despite what anyone may think of them. Maybe in the future, things will be better.

  3. Kyra says:

    My son is 11, and when he was younger he was into everything from cars to barbies, and I let him. But there were other parents who made sure if their son picked up a doll, that he knew it was a “girl’s toy” and something not to really play with. I think it’s a shame, and I also think those people are missing the fact that that little boy appreciated beauty. Life through the eyes of a child is amazing, it’s the grown-ups who are missing out on it. You’re so sweet to have given him the one he wanted! He’ll remember you. You made an impression there. 🙂

  4. Kim MacCarron says:

    What a fabulous post! I see exactly what you mean about strong characters and the inequality of the sexes. I personally think a man wearing a nice pink shirt is sexy because it means he’s very comfortable and secure in his sexuality–one way or the other.
    My brother loved a baby doll when he was little, and my mother never discouraged that. Her claim was that if little girls are encouraged to play with dolls to foster a maternal instinct, then why shouldn’t little boys be encouraged to foster a paternal instinct? It makes complete sense to me.
    With my own kids, I let them be who they’re meant to be. My two older girls used to dress up their little brothers in princess clothes and boas, and I never freaked out, thinking they were “turning” them. I have a son who loves to braid yarn with his sisters and the next minute he’s playing soccer or practicing Jiu-Jitsu. My other son loves gymnastics and soccer. I think allowing boys to get in touch with what others call their “feminine side” just makes them well-rounded individuals.
    What a fabulous post! Thanks!
    And I’m sure that little boy will remember you forever (even at such a young age) because you gave him something more valuable than a girly trinket. You gave him hope.

  5. Parveen says:

    he is strangely talented! it’s amazing how he can express himself however he wants, and people should be encouraged to be like him:D

  6. Hannah says:

    My 5 year old Autistic grandson wants to be a fairy with wings for Halloween. I have no problem with that at all nor do his parents. My fear is someone in his class will make a snide remark or a parent will say something during their little party. People are mean sometimes and can destroy a child’s delight in a second. I love this child dearly and don’t want to see him hurt because of a silly costume. As someone wrote girls can dress up as boys but let a boy try something different and it’s ridiculed. It’s hard enough growing up, kids need encouragement and support.

  7. Mike says:

    This artist so talented. Thank you for the introduction.

    Your post is truly moving though. I just wish that the idea that there is a difference between gender identity and sexual preference would get through to people. I have to have that little conversation with my PSYC students several times a year and I am never sure it gets through. If you kid likes pink and dolls that is great. If he likes other boys that is all good too. They aren’t the same thing though.

    I still believe that Cassandra (Greek Mythos) is the one of the strongest characters in literature. Don’t get me wrong, her story is horrific and terrifying. The part that shows her true strength for me is the fact that she knows the future, she knows the pain she will go through and still manages to face each day without breaking down or worse. I am not sure what the original Ancient Greek writers had in mind when they created and evolved her character, but she is the one character whose inner-strength and repeated attempts to save people (even though she knows she can’t) makes her a hero beyond the female archetype of gender-inverted-male-superhero (in impractical clothing).

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