December 11, 2011

Gender Bending

I have seen a lot of posts from people wanting to raise "gender-neutral" children by not giving telling others what the sex of the child is, dressing them androgynously, using gender-neutral pronouns and providing an ample variety of toys/clothing colours/styles.

However, other than offering a child a lot of options, I'm not really sure how effective all this is. In the end, we all have our preferences and as parents, all we can do is be open to nurturing whatever our child is interested in. I think that offering the options is as close as we are going to come in this society to realistically raise "gender-neutral" children. After all, all around them are signs and behaviours already codefied for them. When they watch TV, they see boys do certain things and girls do others. They see how mommy and daddy (or even mommy and mommy and daddy and daddy) behave. They understand mommy and daddy use different public toilets. They hear "she" and "he" on the playground. They see stores where racks and racks of clothing are separated by colour and style. No matter how hard you try to hide these facts from a child, unless you live in isolation in the woods, they will see these things and internalize them.

I read a post today called Why That Boy Acts Like A Boy and it resonates with me. I'm horribly aware that there could be a bias in the way people see my boy. It seems that over time, "boys being boys" has also become less acceptable. I'm not sure how making us all "genderless" really helps - I believe we all have qualities we can learn from each other and strengths we can benefit from. But the pressure right now seems to be asking boys to change more than we`re currently asking of girls.

The fact is, while I am absolutely all for ALL of us, as humans, becoming less violent towards EVERYONE, I don't believe we need to inherently change too much about how our children play and what clothes they choose to wear in order to achieve that. We need to develop and teach acceptance of everyone, regardless of how they look. As long as they are conducting themsevlves respectfully, we should be able to do the same.

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