My husband read the “genderless” article on the weekend and insisted I take a look. He thought it might resonate with me because I have refused to cut my younger son’s hair (he is almost 3) although everyone thinks he is a girl, and I’m utterly indifferent to this.
Take a look I did, but then I put the article down without finishing it. Truth? I wasn’t that interested.
Another truth? I’m glad for my lack of interest. Glad I don’t have to add this on my list of things to do.
Depending on your own vantage point, I am either an accomplished or aspiring or amateur natural living mom. Meaning: in our house, we *try* to eat organic and/or local as much as we can manage, and take pains to cook homemade food. We often co-sleep, use cloth diapers, natural toothpaste and sunscreen, don’t watch TV, and avoid plastic, gobs of sugar, and over-stimulation – you get the picture. Almost invariably, I wish I were doing more to live according to my natural living values. Almost certainly, I am an overthinker, but prefer this infinitely to underthinking.
How do I feel about gender stereotyping for children? I think they’re limiting, of course. My complaint about the scripts for boys (Spiderman, Batman and Star Wars) and girls (Barbies and all things pink) aren’t just that they’re narrow but that they’re so darn unimaginative. The conformity in commerical childhood is pretty dull.
But – I feel no compulsion to adopt Kathy Witterick’s practice of keeping her child’s sex secret. I admire her intentionality and obvious commitment to raising her children with as much freedom as she offer, and I can totally identify with these impulses. But when I give birth to my third child this summer, I will happily announce to the world whether that child has a penis or a vagina. Undeniably, this biological fact will usher in the societal constructs of gendering with all its boring limitations.
For whatever reasons, I am willing to accept this. If my son wants to keep wearing his hair long, that’s fine with me. When my other son asks me to paint his nails, I will. If I do have a girl, she’s going to look an awful lot like a boy because those are the (gendered) clothes that I’ve been handed down. But the conventional practice itself – the identification of the baby’s sex – I will follow.
I don’t know why I don’t feel moved by this alternative choice as I am with so many others. Maybe because for most of us, our genitalia is an unambiguous biological reality, and because the difficulties of societal gendering are so prevalent that even if you do knock off a couple million of those messages, as Witterick hopes to do, there are zillions more that must be dealt with.
Whatever the reasons, I’m glad that I don’t feel compelled to adopt another non-mainstream item to my list. It’s hard enough to find tasty organic grapes.