March 28, 2016

The (Unnecessarily Stupid) Gender Game


When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I didn't want to know the gender. I was adamant. So was my husband. We wanted to be surprised. For us, it was simple: I didn't want to pigeonhole my kid into a gender specific way of being from birth. Baby R would be a baby. Period. Knowing the sex isn't what concerned us most.  Because my pregnancy was so difficult, all I cared about was if the kid was going to be healthy. 

But we had no idea how folks were so obsessed with finding out. They didn't understand why we didn't care.  They wanted to know what names we picked out even though we told them we had names for both boys and girls (aka unisex names). Why wasn't the room going to be pink or blue? Why did I not want pink at all?(for the record, I hate pink!) They didn't wanna buy us gifts (even though we had a comprehensive registry that was gender neutral and full of good basic items) unless they knew the gender. It was frustrating. 

Look, a baby is a baby. Onsies all function the same regardless of color. As do pampers. As do books. I just didn't want to be inundated with one color clothing (again.. I hate pink). or gender specific toys. What if he wanted to be a ballerina? What if she liked construction blocks? Who gives a fuck! 


But then.. After my chromosomal testing, the nurse blurts out "So you're having a girl! Wait.. Did you want to know??"  I was fuming inside! NO! I didn't want to know!😡🙄but we kept the information to ourselves. We let people guess. We let them think they were right either way. But we wouldn't tell. Even our family didn't know (but they were ok and wanted to be surprised).  Most folks respected that and others thought it was some sort of mortal sin. I didn't wanna hear the jokes or the comments about gender. The whole "dad get your shotgun or he's going to be a lady killer." It's tiring. And lame. And sets up a gender dichotomy that is harmful. It sets up expectations of sexual behavior. As as a black person, I am tired of us being wrapped up in our sexuality. 

So needless to say, when SHE was born early I was heartbroken that people knew her gender. Folks were like "well since we know the gender I can get you something PINK! Or "girly". I still didn't want that.  They asked if they HAD to stick to the registry (which again, was full of basic needs!) Folks told my husband crass jokes that involved gender stereotypes. One relative even commented on her "keeping her legs closed" when she saw her "fresh out the womb" photo. Uhm.. She was hours old! Minutes even! How on earth is that appropriate???


What I dreamed most happened though. The day of her shower came, and what did we get?: all pink everything. Bows and dresses and such. I wanted to hurl. While I appreciated gifts, we really wanted folks to stick to the gender neutral items we listed and the basics.  But people wanted to do what they wanted to do, going so far as to say that it "wasn't fair to THEM" to have to stick to neutral things. It wasn't about them! It was about our kid. And when they found out it was a girl, folks quickly were like "now you have to try for a boy" as if having this miracle of a girl just wasn't enough. 

I know it seems silly. But I want to raise an empowered human being, regardless of gender. She'll have trucks and dolls. She'll play football and princess warrior. My husband is already talking about taking her to her first WWE match. She can do all of those things. And if I had a boy, it would have been the same way. 

Focusing on gender sends the wrong message, that what's between your legs is more valuable than what's in your brain.  That boys are more "important" than girls and that girls are such a hassle. I look forced to the type of person my daughter grows up to be. It's not about her gender. It's about her heart.

She's wonderful. Period.  

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