>>My first child is due in a little over a month. I love feeling his kicks and wiggles, even when he wedges his feet up under my ribs. People’s comments about my growing belly don’t bother me that much, and even though I’m overwhelmed with decisions, I’m excited to meet my little man.
But there’s one thing that’s getting me down: everyone is so happy I’m having a boy and not a girl.
People have told that I’m lucky to have a boy because:
- Boys are easier. There seems to be an expectation that raising a girl means more sass, more fussiness, more emotional mess.
- Boys are more fun. They run around, get messy, want to explore, play outside. And their toys are so much cooler. Girls like to sit quietly while reading or coloring.
The only downside people could find for having a boy? The clothes aren’t as cute.
As people predict my future as a mother, the reasons I’m fortunate become more damning for my gender.
- Girls become bitches. Most of the people weighing in on this topic of conversation have been women. Maybe men think this, but know how sexist it would be for them to say it? I guess women feel they can own the stereotype.
- Girls (specifically around the ages of thirteen and fourteen) are sluts. Okay, only one person (another woman) said this to me, but I teach fourteen-year-old girls and I was once a teenager, so this hurt the most. Perhaps because I know that even though it was one voice, other people feel that way. Maybe it stings because of the poignant ache I feel when I watch my students struggle to balance individuality, power, respect, and human nature, unaware of the penalties for a minor stumble.
- Girls require more worry. Probably the best intentioned out of the list, what people mean is that girls are more susceptible than boys to the evils of the world: sexual predators, rape, domestic violence, exploitation (see “all girls are sluts”). I say that this is the best intentioned, because it’s not coming from a place of malice like the two above it, but rather fear.
I don’t need research to know if the reasons above are statistically true because I don’t care. On the surface, we are not a country that values the birth of a male over that of a female. We don’t inflict bodily harm on an infant because of her gender or shame her mother for having her, but, clearly, there are the implications pre-birth that boys are better. And it is not fair: Not to our girls and not to our boys.
There might be biological differences between the genders, but our “nurturing” lends itself to how we perceive nature should be. Boy and their toys are “cooler” and more active, because that is what we tell marketers we want. Look up “gender reveal” or “nursery decoration” ideas on Pinterest and get ready to puke from all the stereotypes people place in front of their infants before baby can see two feet ahead. And is a girl sassier than a boy or is he just strong-willed?
Let’s encourage our girls to find their voices and listen to them when they do. And let’s spend time worrying about our boys, educating them about how they should perceive girls, why it is just as important for them to wait to be sexually active and how not to, purposefully or accidentally, exploit women.
Until we do though, when you find out the gender of a soon-to-be-born baby, say “how nice” and nothing more.
>>Jennifer Brick is a writer and teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.
This was so fascinating, and spot on in terms of what I experienced as well. Looking back on the decision to find out the sex, would you make the same decision? Is it better to keep that in to prevent the unsolicited thoughts or meet it head on? My standard response was always, “I’m so excited to welcome a new family member” or “every child is different” and just skirted away from the sexism. Would love your thoughts.