What is this thing Bash-O-Bash?
Sometimes a he,
sometimes a she
Since they were very young my sons have shown an affinity for a wide range of toys, clothes, TV shows, etc. One of my sons in particular loves pink, hair berets, headbands, dresses and painted nails. He wore a dress to his school masquerade this year. He was nervous about it, feared ridicule, but bravely embraced. The other students and faculty, if it bothered them they didn't show it and he had a wonderful time dancing.
But that won't always be the case. Someone will say he ought to dress the way a boy should dress and play with the things a boy should play with. I say: Clearly he is, because he's fluid. My son says sometimes he feels like a he, sometimes a she. I want him to feel good about figuring out who he is. While he's figuring out who he is, I want to give him more way to feel comfortable. That is why I'm creating the Bash-O-Bash characters. I hope they will enrich the lives of kids and young adults like my son. The growing cast of characters are all shapes and sizes and just about as conforming and nonconforming as they come. I want kids to grow up seeing characters who are joyful, curious and gracious. Who are assertive, get lonely, are shy. Who are well aware that they are different and deal with it in each their own way.
Bash-O-Bash is an active collaboration between my sons and I. We've invented some of the characters together but I have refined a little here and there. (Otherwise they'd all have light sabers and monster trucks.) The three of us are in unison about making characters for kids that are "nonconforming" but not in a heavy handed way.
What business do you have making something like Bash-O-Bash? You're not gender queer, gay, or trans.
You are right. I am not any of those things. While I have in my life been assumed to be gay by others on more than one occasion (there is a funny story here, actually, but I'll save that for another day,) I truly am a straight male. So, I can understand if people may not see what my stake is in something like Bash-O-Bash.
If I were to boil my inspiration down to a few simple somethings, it would be these:
- Bash-O-Bash exists precisely because I am a straight male and want to live in a world where the milestones of gender queer and questioning kids are celebrated with the same fervor as the milestones of other kids.
- Artistically, I've been on a trajectory toward kids illustration for years. And we've already established the over abundance of kids stuff guided by gender marketing research. I also feel like stories and characters that actually are less gender driven seem to lack either any grounding in empathy and justice, or are rehashing stories around the same easily marketable set of morals. From the ground up, Bash-O-Bash will think about story telling from a different perspective.
- I have three kids, each of which are too young yet to declare anything like a permanent gender identity. Many of my friends also have young children who likely haven't settled into a lifelong gender identity. And many of their friends, and so forth. I say this because each of these families have the opportunity to show each other that gender is fluid, expression is essential, and they are loved no matter what. None of our kids may ever grow up to have ultimately deviated from the familiar gender binary. But that shouldn't matter. And it shouldn't be because the ability and right of young people to decide for themselves was squashed. I want Bash-O-Bash to become a puzzle piece in how families express these beliefs to each other and the world around them.
Is this about sex?
No. From start to finish, Bash-O-Bash is about kids' nonsexual expression of their gender. As a creator, I will strive every day to untwist gender and sex, set aside the sex, and tell stories that can be told from that new place. This is deeply important to me. Because sex and gender are coiled tightly together for adults, there are certainly opportunities for me to accidentally overlook intricacies. When that happens I hope I will be reminded by people who have delved deeper into the subject if I've made assumptions or moved forward uninformed, etc.
If and when any older kids who have begun to ponder their sexual identity get into Bash-O-Bash, I am sure it is possible they could transpose their own understanding of sexuality into the Bash-O-Bash context. That is, of course, inevitable, really. However, being that the art and stories will have so little that could ever be construed as sexual, I honestly believe it will be a rather boring world for a young person to inject what they know of sexuality into. This will become more clear in time.
Where did the name Bash-O-Bash come from? Is it significant?
It is significant in that it was a fun, explosive, nonsense word my sons would say when they were younger. But we mostly chose it because it just seemed to fit. Insider info: the exclamation was first seen in print in this illustration.
More to come…
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If you like what we're doing, you can become a patron of Bash-O-Bash on Patreon or by buying character art on Red Bubble! As monthly support and sales grow, we will be able to start creating, selling, and shipping Bash-O-Bash stuff locally, which is the ultimate goal for us.