Gender Socialization from the Womb

Extracurricular, Updates

Ultrasound at 20 weeks, 6 daysI mentioned a few posts ago that I was working on a collaboration with my husband. Well, the secret’s out on most social media, so I might as well post it here. Paul and I are expecting our first child this June! We went in for our anatomy scan and our little peanut is looking perfect and healthy.

Get pregnant and you’ll find yourself getting a lot of the same questions over and over again.

How are you feeling?

Well, the first trimester was rough, but I’m feeling better now. I still have moments of feeling a bit iffy and I still get tired, but overall, it’s gotten much better in the second trimester.

When are you due?

End of June! Yes, I have a specific due date, but very few women end up delivering on their due date, so I’m trying to keep it to myself. Plus, first pregnancies almost always go long, so I’m trying to avoid the “have you popped yet?” questions if I end up going past my date. I’d love to deliver on my due date. I think it’d be a great birthday for this kiddo!

And then there’s my favorite question.

Are you finding out the sex? Is it a boy or a girl? Do you know what you’re having?

Well, yeah, we know what we’re having! A baby! A verified human baby! But no, we won’t be finding out the sex.

Surprisingly, other people have very strong opinions about the decision to wait for the surprise. Mostly, I get the response, “Oh my goodness, I could never not know! I’d go crazy!” Luckily, Paul and I have pretty mellow personalities, so we’ll be happy either way. I’d love to have one of each, so I’ll be thrilled either way.

I’ve also been asked how I’m going to prepare if I don’t know the sex. In that regard, we’re fortunate to be having a summer baby. For the first few months, odds are this little one will be wearing mostly onesies and a diaper. We won’t have to pick up too much clothing before the baby comes and anything more elaborate, we can pick up afterwards.

"Gender Neutral" ClothingBut even with a limited need for clothing, there is a problem with not finding out the sex. Gender neutral clothing. Visit a baby store without knowing the sex of the baby and it’s going to be tough to find a lot of stuff. Sure, there’s yellow… And… Yellow… Maybe green? Oh, and white! But beyond that, the options are limited.

Which is part of the problem. If clothes aren’t pink or blue, they have some other accoutrement that defines them as gender specific. Girl outfits are particularly offensive in this way. If it’s not pink, it has frills or ruffles, sequins or leopard print. And it seems boy outfits have a really unsettling tendency to have slogans like “Ladies’ Man” or silly ties or bowties (yes, because I want my son to be a corporate drone from the start!).

I like ducks as much as the next person, but why is it that ducks seem to be the only “gender neutral” animal out there? Why aren’t there more middle of the road outfits for monkeys or dinosaurs? Girls like dinosaurs as much as boys! I know this for a fact, because dinosaurs are awesome. And I’m a girl.

Since I started my pregnancy, I’ve been participating on the message boards. And for the most part, I enjoy the conversations over there. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one dealing with certain symptoms and worrying about certain things. But I am constantly amazed by how many of the moms on the board are planning on starting their children down a very stereotypical gender path right from the start. I think it’s particularly bad with girls, but I’ve seen it with boys as well. Just using words like “princess” to refer to your new baby starts that child down a road that she might not be interested in.

One of the more interesting debates is whether or not to pierce a babies ears. I personally feel that earrings are a responsibility and ears should be pierced when a girl is old enough to ask for them and take care of them herself. But I appear to be in the minority, at least on my message board. Justifications range from the fact that she’s too young to remember the pain at 3 months to the probability that the holes can heal easily when she’s too young to play with them and even that earrings on babies look adorable. I tend to disagree, but my primary reason for not getting my baby’s ears pierced is that I don’t want to force a certain gender path on her. My little girl might be into dolls and tea parties and frilly dresses. Or she might be a total tomboy who wants nothing to do with “girl stuff” and just wants to play in the mud. Or, most likely, she’ll be like me and tread the middle of the road. I played with dolls, but I also played with mud. I wanted to get my ears pierced, but I’ve never been too good at wearing jewelry. Whoever she ends up being (if she’s a she at all!), I want her to come to that conclusion on her own.

I’m excited to welcome our new addition to the world and I’m excited to discover who he or she will be.

And for the record, we’re painting the nursery blue. Not because we think it’s a boy, but rather because the sky is blue and I want clouds, stars and sun decals on the wall.