Whether the subtext of this advertising campaign for a martial arts academy is to suggest that karate lessons will butch-ify the little boy or else assist in preparing him to meet the bullies who will attack a boy for wearing heels or lipstick, the result still carries the heavy hand of the gender police. Is the boy pictured even four years old? Why the hand-wringing over a toddler playing dress up, even if he’s a boy?
The ad channels a dangerous message, one that leads the public to code a boy in proximity to femininity as a warning sign of trouble to come. A limp wrist or black eye is the promise unspoken. In reality, this blue and pink worldview has real consequences for boys, such as the baby in New York less than two years old who was beaten to death for acting like a girl. This Mars and Venus gender binary crap isn’t cutesy; it can kill.