Some thoughts about gender

Why I’m happy to be having a boy

Let me start by saying, I would be happy with a healthy baby of either gender. There would be some distinct advantages to having a baby girl and I hope I’m lucky enough to have one next time. That being said, I’ve always suspected that I would have boys. Not for any good reasons, but just as a result of some dreams I’ve had in the past.

However, one reason I’m happy to be carrying a boy is related to my recent feminist epiphany (which I need to talk about on my other blog sometime soon). Bringing up a girl in a world where there is still so much pressure on women to conform to ridiculous ideals is a daunting prospect. I’d like to bring up strong, confident children who can hold their own against external expectations (including those from myself and Craig) while still having empathy. I think that’s harder with a girl, mainly because I worry about watching her experience sexism and be affected by it. I know this would make me very angry.

On the other hand, I think there is a lot of scope to raise a boy with a great respect for women and feminism. I’m surrounded by many wonderful men who are very supportive of women’s rights and feminism, not least Craig. I like the idea of raising a boy (or boys) who can talk about their feelings, respect people with a variety of gender, sexual and racial identities, and are willing to do their fair share of cooking and cleaning. Being able to raise boys who don’t automatically fall into white male privilege and are keen to expand the power of others is a really exciting reason to reproduce.

Why gender doesn’t matter

So this will sound odd coming after what I have just said, but neither Craig nor I are keen on raising our children with a strong imposed gender identity. From what the Verifi test indicates, we are having a boy as given by the presence of Y chromosomes in my blood (although some readers may suggest an alternative reason for this).

I wanted to know what gender the baby is because I’m insatiably curious, not because I want to prepare a nursery in the appropriate colours. We had already decided that we wanted a rainbow themed nursery simply because I like rainbows and dislike pastels. Where possible, we’ll be getting baby clothes in bright colours but not emphasising blue or boy motifs. I’ll be actively discouraging people from giving us ‘boy’ items for the baby.

In an ideal world, I’d like our children to decide on what gender they’d like to identify as themselves when they are old enough to do so. I know that this is difficult in practice, but I’d like to leave that possibility open. I’d like to think that we will support our children to define themselves as they wish (although I recognise that this may be more challenging in practice). I have seen how difficult life can be for people coming out as gay or trans and watching a child go through that would be hard. Having a supportive family can make a big difference to this though. Also, it’s generally not something the individual chooses as such.

I’m hoping we can provide a supportive and nurturing environment for our children where they can explore art, music, colours, yarn (duh), bushwalking, technology and a whole lot more. I don’t think you have to be a girl to knit and cook or a boy to code or use a skateboard. Craig and I are both going to provide fairly non-standard gender role models for our children and I’m *delighted* by that.

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