Should Boys Have Their Ears Pierced?

My daughter (aged 5) had her ears pierced over the summer. She asked for her birthday in May and I wanted both of us a couple of months to think about it. I talked to her about how it would hurt, that they would have to be cleaned everyday, that she couldn’t touch them and would need to look after them.

After deliberating we got them done at the beginning of the summer. What surprised me is at the time of piercing her brother (aged 7, nearly 8) asked to get them done too.

In the sense of fairness, I told him he needed to wait and think about it for a couple of months, just like his sister. Again, we talked about the pain and that it would need looking after etc.

Here’s the thing I wasn’t keen, and when I sat down and chatted it over with my husband the reason I wasn’t keen, is because he’s a boy. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that that was not ok. Here I am going to forums on gender equality and yet I wanted to say no to my son because of his gender.

The only way we can break away from gender norms and gender bias is to have the courage to do so and live it in our lives. So this past weekend, we to get his ear pierced.

He couldn’t decide whether to have one or two ears pierced. So we decided to go for one, and the piercer said he can come back and have the second one done at no extra cost if he changes his mind. Which it looks like he wants to do this coming weekend. I cannot tell you just how happy he was after he had it done. When the piercer showed him his earring in the mirror, he absolutely beamed. He was so very happy with his choice.

What makes me sad is that before we did so I had to chat to him about this being unusual and not necessarily something that boys always do. He didn’t seem to care, he just wanted earrings.

But that evening, it was only when he began to think about school that he began to question his choices. He was worried that some of his friends might not want to be his friend anymore because he had an earring. We talked about this, about what real friends were, that some people might have comments, but if he was happy then that was ok. Our choices, do not always have to be the same as someone else’s choices.

Monday morning came and I felt a little trepidation for him. Told him he looked great and off he went. As expected, he received mean comments, isn’t it always the way? One friend politely said he didn’t understand why he had it done. Another child (not a friend), in the class declared Logan should now be called ‘Lo-girl’.

After school I asked him how this made him feel and he said he had thought about taking it out. I reiterated our conversation about doing what makes him happy and not others and he said he really liked it and wanted to keep it.

The second day was much of the same, lots of ‘girl’ comments, a lot from older children in the playground (Year 6 when he is Year 3). I suggested he say to them ‘not your body, none of your business’. I was proud of him when he told me he did indeed say this to them. But also that most of the children who had been unkind didn’t know how to respond to that.

However, yesterday things escalated and a child said he would slap Logan until he took it out. Naturally, I will now be going in to talk to the school about this behaviour.

I can’t help but feel cross and frustrated, because I saw his face and just saw how happy he was in that chair after he had had his ear pierced. It’s not even that unusual in modern society, for goodness sake David Beckham’s got it done!

Since Logan has started school I have watched my son slowly shy away from anything that is out of the norm. He no longer wears pink, and yet he had pink jeans and a sequin jumper before school. His choice in clothes have become more sedate. I guess part of this could be growing up, it’s hard to tell. If you watch my insta-stories he cried when I could only get him a pink lunch box worried about what other children might say if he went to school with one.

This is toxic masculinity. The belief that children should wear and do certain things because of their gender. It needs to stop. Yes, I floundered for a moment when he asked to get his ears pierced. This is a society I have grown up and been raised in. But, I questioned and changed because I was wrong. When children as young as 7 or 8 have these conceptions of gender norms, how are we going to change things?

It makes me feel equally sad and angry that Logan is afraid to wear what he wants to wear because of what people might say or do. It’s only an earring and yet he’s encountered mean and unkind comments from other children everyday so far. I’m not a perfect Mum and I am trying my best, we still have ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ things in our house, it’s hard to break away from. But I want my children to be free to be who they are.

If you’re parent, please spare a moment to chat to them about differences, choices and how it’s not ok to be a mean to a child because they have done or are wearing something a bit out of the ordinary.

7 thoughts on “Should Boys Have Their Ears Pierced?

  1. The thing is though that ‘gender norms’ are taught. Often by the adults around them. The fact that you floundered yourself says a lot about your own bias as you freely admit. If you flounder as a grown adult then how can you expect young children to be more emotionally intelligent than you? That’s not a dig I’m simply saying that unfortunately these things run deep and we can only hope that we can better teach future generations. I admire you for letting him have it done and am sure you can build his resilience against nasty comments.

    1. Hi Clare, thanks for your comment. Yes, gender norms are taught by adults. I guess with so many male celebrities with their ears pierced I didn’t think it would be such a thing at school. You’re right I did flounder for a short time, although this wasn’t something I shared with my children and I would like to think if another boy had come to school with their ear pierced my children would not have reacted in this way. But you’re right we can only teach and show our children and hope that things improve for future generations. In fairness, I have since spoken to the school and they have been very supportive and since then Logan has had no further comments, so maybe the children did just need to be taught by a positive role model.

  2. What a shitty thing to happen, but you are awesome for allowing your kids to make their own choices. Plus what a tough kid you have there.
    I hate gender stereotypes, and am a big fan of the Let Toys Be Toys campaign (ditto clothes).

    1. Thank you. I am proud of Logan for sticking to who he wants to be. I have asked if he would like to take it out and he is adamant that he doesn’t want to. I think it just shows how much work needs to be done on gender stereotypes and we all just have to do our best to change things.

  3. Well done for allowing him to have his ear pierced. It’s quite sad that those boys are so caught up in what their parents think that they can’t be themselves. Tell that to your little boy, that he is brave for doing what he likes. In 20 years he will, most likely, forget their names, but he will always have the memory of overcoming bullies.

    1. Thank you Anca. I guess the boys are still young and shows how ingrained certain things are into our society which is such a shame and we do have a long way to go. I am definitely proud of Logan for standing up for who he is and it is a great lesson to learn to not let bullies make you be something you don’t want to be.

  4. I was saddened to read this blog post. It is truly awful to hear that your son has been picked on for simply having an earring, and my heart goes out to him. Bullying is always totally unacceptable and those who bully others should always be held to account for their actions.

    As a mum of 4 boys (aged 5 to 14) all of whom have pierced left ears, I must admit that I am really surprised that this has happened to your son, so much so that it has left me scratching my head and wondering why? My sons have had earrings since they were toddlers and they have never had any negative remarks from other children; in fact, most boys have been complimentary and even envious about it (some have even badgered their parents into letting them have one as a result!)

    Even more perplexing for me, is that growing up, both my brothers wore an earring from the time they started secondary school, and they never had an issue either, even though it was a lot more unusual back then. I would guess that at that time less than 1% of boys had an earring, whereas today it must be at least 20%. It’s so normal and commonplace that most people don’t think anything about it any more.

    Speaking from my own personal experience, I do have (hopefully!) some constructive points to raise with you that I hope might help your son. I hope you won’t take anything I say as criticism, because I’m completely supportive of you in this matter; it’s only intended as friendly advice!

    1) I notice that Logan has his right ear pierced. To be honest, that might be why this has happened. It’s an outdated oddity and a stereotype, but boys are “supposed” to get their left ears pierced. When my brothers were at school, there used to be the dreadful saying “right ear, right q***r”. I apologise for saying that, but for some bizarre reason, piercing a boy’s right ear does seem to cause some sexist and homophobic reactions to surface in some ignorant people. In my honest opinion, I think it would be a good idea to let Logan have both his ears pierced as that is very commonplace now. My boys only have one ear pierced, but I’d have no objection to them having both if they wanted. I would, however, be worried if they just wore one earring in their right ears for the above reason (but of course I would let them if that was what they really wanted).

    2) I suppose that to some (ignorant) people, a diamond stud might seem “girly”, although I am surprised about that considering it is so popular – it seems to be the earring of choice for boys and men nowadays. I remember from my childhood that my brothers’ choice of earrings was limited to a gold stud or a tiny gold hoop, as they were the only earrings considered to be ‘boyish’ or ‘manly’ at the time. Maybe it might be a good idea to try Logan out with a few different earrings, such as plain gold or silver, or maybe a black or blue stud?

    It is only my personal way of doing things, but I only allow my boys to wear a gold stud or tiny gold hoop to school; when they are at home, on weekends, and holidays, they can wear what they like. I just think it’s extra smart that way, but I am biased, because it’s simply what I’m used to from my own childhood!

    I wouldn’t let Logan take out his earring if I were you. I think that would set a bad precedent. The most important lesson I think we can teach our kids is for them to be themselves, because if they aren’t themselves, then they are no-one. I also think that a boy cares a hundred times more about his mum’s opinion than those of a bully at school too; so if mum thinks his earring is adorable and should stay put, then he will almost certainly think the same. Perhaps other family members could positively encourage him this Christmas by buying him some different ones?

    I’m sorry for the really long post. This is more than I intended to write! I congratulate you on being a good mum and for doing things right. I hope that I might have given you a few constructive points going forward, and I hope you will let us know how Logan gets along with his earring in future!

    Best wishes, Katie.

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