Tuesday, July 28, 2009

gender roles

We chose not find out Spagett's sex for one simple reason: we know that if we find out, the family will glut us with heavily gendered toys and clothes. And we simply don't care for that. We think it is stupid and unnecessary. Babies are fairly genderless little beings, and we as parents, we as guardians and family and even strangers, are the ones who push them into assigned gender roles.

Case in point: Sid's father insinuated last night that we were keeping the sex secret from him for some nefarious purpose, then went on to basically say that he could not buy anything for his grandchild until he knew the sex. Because what if he buys a baseball glove and it turns out we have a girl?

Let me just say that he is incredibly lucky he did not say that to me. As it was, it was said to Sid, who chooses to let that kind of stuff fall by the wayside more often than not.

We have a registry, one that Sid and I put together after much discussion over each individual piece. We deliberately left out "gendered colors" such as blue, purple and pink - even though neither of us harbor any particular qualms about dressing a child of either sex in those colors - because we did not want the family to get ideas and make assumptions. We only put two big-ticket items on the list, and the rest were affordable, inexpensive necessaries, all in gender neutral colors: clothes and towels and socks and burp rags and crib sheets and hats. If you are shopping straight from the registry, Elder Manson, there's no need to say that you can't buy anything simply because you don't know the sex of the child you are shopping for! It smacks of blackmail, quite honestly! We made the registry the way we did so that everyone - yes, even you! - could buy what they chose and could afford. We really did have family in mind, believe it or not!

Before we decided to have a child, Sid and I had many discussions about gender roles. If a son of yours decides he'd like to wear a skirt one day, will you tell him no? I wanted to know. If he wants to play with Barbies, will you tell him he can't? What if we have a child who is intersex? Will you choose their gender, or let them make their own choice? Both of us had lots of questions for the other, and we both had lots to say about what was important to us. And in the end, we were in total agreement. I won't even attempt to lay it all out for you, but it boiled down to this: Whether boy or girl or intersex or whatever, our child would not be forced into society's gender roles. We would never be the ones to say "little boys don't play with dolls" or "little girls don't play sports" and try to dictate who they should be, what role they should play.

We know that once Spagett is born, there will be no avoiding the gendered gifts from family. We know it is unavoidable. We know that we are fighting a battle in which we are clearly outnumbered. But we also know that it is up to us as parents to make sure that Spagett will grow up in a home where it is perfectly safe to be a little bit different. And we can do that!


Riot said...

The two of you are seriously going to make the best parents.

starky said...

I'll settle for just "not a failure." :P But thank you, it is heartening to hear from someone who will always tell me EXACTLY like it is.

wellroundedtype2 said...

I wanted to see how you were doing -- just thinking about you -- and you sound like you already protecting this kid in an awesome way.
We didn't find out Superhero Princess' gender before she was born and although she's incredibly femme -- I know it wasn't that I "made her" that way -- it is a combo of who she is and her environment. For me, letting her be who she is means letting her wear frilly dresses and a crown to preschool. I have joked that when she grows up she's going to tell her therapist that I raised her like a gay son.