Initially, I didn’t want to know the sex of the proto-being inside me. But J did. So we compromised, and found out the sex, but kept it to ourselves.
And here’s why I didn’t want to know.
Because you spend your whole life being gendered. Because gender permeates everything. It is the fundamental fault line that dictates your existence. And I wanted this potential, our first child, to be unburdened by that for as long as possible. It’s infuriating that children are subjected to gender essentialism. To push it on a foetus just felt too much.
And now foetus is a six month old baby, my fears have been confirmed. A selection of comments from the last week alone.
In reference to a messy house with kids’ toys: “At least she’s a girl and can’t play with lego. Those blocks get everywhere.”
WHY CAN’T SHE PLAY WITH LEGO? WHY?! Because she should be sitting nicely and prettily instead? Because building is for boys? Because you operate lego with a penis?
As baby burps: “That’s not very lady-like, is it?”
No, it’s damn well not. Because she’s a baby. And because screw your lady-like. ‘Lady-like’ is used to constrain women. To make us nice, and compliant. To stop us raising a fuss, or demanding what we’re owed. To maintain the status quo. To reduce women to their comportment. Fuck that. I want to raise a kid who kicks down doors and takes names. Who won’t accept being ‘nice’, or being told to smile. Or being valued by how pretty she is. Or having men hold a referendum on her fuckability before they’ll consider what she has to say.
For the eleventy-billionth time: “Uh oh, watch out daddy! You’ll have to get a baseball bat to keep the boys from her door”.
One: How about you raise your boys not to need a baseball bat to be kept away from women? How about you teach your boys about meaningful, enthusiastic consent? How about boys’ automatic state is not to rape women?
Two: Why is it a father’s job to police his daughter’s virginity? Remind you of women who’ve been raped being disowned for dishonouring the family? Remind you of weird purity balls or silver rings? Good, it should. Because it comes from the same root. That women’s value is detemined by how ‘pure’ they are to men. That women’s sexuality needs to be controlled. That women’s sexuality belongs to men.
About my daughter’s stripy blue outfit: “Why is she wearing blue if she’s a girl?”
Because she’s a baby. Because she wears what’s comfortable (and occasionally outfits that amuse her tired parents and provide potential backmail material when she’s a teenager). Because blue won’t leach into her skin and turn her into a boy. Or a lesbian. And if later in life, she wants to be a boy or decides she’s gay, then that’s who she is. It wasn’t determined by her parent’s choice in clothes. Because she goes through three changes of clothes a day and this onesie was clean. Because it matters not one iota whether strangers in the street can tell what sex she is. Why do I care if some dude I’ve never met thinks she’s a boy? Because I refuse to dress her in pink lace, with flowers and butterflies and headbands and a baby wig and a giant tattoo on her forehead that screams “GIRL!” for fear that someone, somewhere, might think she’s a boy.