Monday, March 11, 2013

My Issue With Gender Stereotypes

Before getting pregnant I never realized how passionately I disliked the idea of "gender" differences.  This idea that girls are pink and boys are blue.  Since getting pregnant these once docile feelings have magnified and I find myself being annoyed by something on almost a daily basis.  It's not that I don't think you should get pink things for your baby if you like pink (or blue or purple or yellow or black or whatever), it's this idea that you have to conform to a gender stereotype the moment you find out your have a small penis or vagina within you.

Example: We are planning a football themed nursery.  One night, after getting annoyed with my husband for ignoring me while I was trying to put together our Amazon registry, I just decided to start adding random Packers stuff to it.  It started off as a joke, waiting to see how long it would take him to even see that I did it, and it developed into this whole idea.  A Packers themed nursery!  BRILLIANT!  Except, C is a 49ers fan.  As is my brother-in-law.  So this led to another idea: a "house divided" nursery where we'd have Packers and 49ers memorabilia combined!  I loved it.  Then I mentioned this plan to someone and immediately their first response was... "But, what if the baby is a girl?"

What if the baby is a girl?  At first this comment confused me.  I honestly didn't understand what they were implying.  Initially I thought that because the baby would be a girl that maybe they'd be a Vikings fan (NOOOO!!!!).  Not sure why that was my first thought, it was a very random one, to say the least.  The furthest thing from my mind was that this person was implying that a football themed nursery for a girl was inappropriate.  Once I realized that this is what they were implying I gave them my response: "So?"

OK, if I'd been thinking more clearly at the time (and I did return to them later with this), I would have pointed out that I am the bigger football fan between C and I.  I LOVE FOOTBALL.  I watch every Sunday (and Monday and watch Thursday's games on Fantasycast because I'm too cheap for the NFL network), I obsess over my Fantasy teams, I get annoyed when my team loses - luckily I am a Packers fan, it doesn't happen often - in general, I love football.  A lot.  C, I would say, likes football.  Just not nearly as much as I do.

It started with this nursery idea and snowballed from there for me.  A big reason that we are not finding out the sex of our baby, to be honest with you, is because I don't want them getting trapped into a gender stereotype because of it.  By that, I mean that the moment someone hears "it's a girl!" they go out and buy a ton of pink stuff.  I hate the color pink.  Which is kind of funny because as a kid I loved it.  But that's not the point.  Now, I hate pink.  And since my child won't even be able to see pink when they are being dressed in pink onsies, I highly doubt they'll care whether or not they are wearing pink or blue or yellow.  But I will know.  I have to stare at my kid lovingly for hours on end daily.  And since I'm the one who has to do it, I'd rather not be staring at a little girl with bows in her hairs and a frilly pink tutu.  Give me a half naked baby with a cute cloth diaper any day, though!

Now, I'm not like those parents in Britain who claim they are going to raise their child "without a gender", because those people have it all wrong.  They let their son wear pink bathing suits but won't let him wear cargo pants.  That's not raising your child without gender, that's forcing your son to think in a feminine way.  If my son wants to wear a pink bathing suit... alright!  I mean, I'm not going to run out and buy one for him just to see if he likes it, but should he come across one somewhere and he lights up when he sees it and asks for it, sure.  Why not?  Likewise, should my daughter want to rock some cargo pants and tee-shirts with skulls on them, alright.  Also not something I'd go out and buy them specifically, but if we stumble upon them at a garage sale or thrift shop- have at it!  I must say, in this sense blogger Sarah of Nerdy Apple is my hero.  Her son wanted to dress like Daphne from Scooby Doo.  Thinking nothing of it, she bought him what he wanted and he rocked that costume!  And she got flack for it.  Why?  Because it bent the ideas of other parents as to what's "right" for a boy and what's "wrong".  To them, a five year old dressing up as his favorite cartoon character was wrong, simply because the character was female.  There is nothing wrong with this!

Listen, the clothing my child wears is for me.  S/he's not trying to impress anyone.  S/he won't even be aware of how their clothing looks until they are old enough to start pointing at things they show a preference toward.  The same goes for the nursery.  My child is not going to care what it looks like.  We may not even be living here in a year or two, which is about the time they'll start possibly caring.  This nursery is for one person- ME!  If I have to spend any amount of time in a single room (which, btw, our nursery is not really a "nursery" per se, but a large closet/dressing area in our room that we are turning into the nursery, so it is literally a part of my bedroom), I want to enjoy my time in there.  And once my child is old enough to express interest in wall colors or decorations they will be in a different room and I can then take my awesome football memorabilia and create an awesome Man Cave out of it.  MY Man Cave, btw.  Same with clothing- when my child is old enough to express their opinions I will stop dressing them like little footballs and let them develop their own style (perhaps with a little mommy guidance... let's not get crazy here!).  Until then, what they wear is my preference, not theirs.  I'm not trying to make my child one thing or another, I just want to enjoy looking at them and what they're wearing.

Listen, people, children don't care about gender stereotypes.  They will begin to show their preferences for things whether you want them to or not.  It's OK to put a little guidance in there, but to simply say "no" to something because it doesn't fit a mold?  Well, personally, that's not how I want to raise my child.  This is also not a matter of being "gay" or "straight" or encouraging "gayness" or whatever.  Sexuality is something I hope I don't even have to worry about until my child is 28 and has their doctorate under their belt.  That's reasonable to wish for, right?  OK, seriously, that is a whole other manner and has nothing to do with gender stereotypes.  I am a sweat pants wearing, football loving, out spoken, pink hating, green loving woman.  And in case you're curious, I'm straight, too.

1 comment:

Jesse @ Humble Seed said...

Hooray for this post! I just had a baby- and I can't tell you the number of raised eyebrows and questions I get about our girl's "boyish" clothes and "not very girly" room. I suppose people expect to see each gender following in line with their stereotype. Way to go for creating a sporty room - even if you have a girl. Can't wait to see pictures on how it all turns out! And - congratulations. :)