I’ve read a lot of posts lately (on various sites) about raising babies genderless. There’s the family who’s generated quite the controversy in choosing to raise their newest baby “genderless.” There’s a new preschool over in Europe that is supposedly “genderless.” There is a huge move towards eliminating gender and trying to make all people completely equal, no longer bound by the regimented gender roles of old.
I think it’s completely ridiculous.
I don’t think men and women should be treated unfairly. I don’t think that either boys or girls are better than the other. They’re different though, and that’s undeniable.
It doesn’t bother me when my son wants to try on his sister’s princess dresses, or play with dolls, or try on make up. It’s part of growing up to want to try these things and see what they’re like. It doesn’t bother me, either, when my daughter wants to get dirty, play with cars, or use Daddy’s tools. So what? Again, it’s just curiosity about what other people are doing and desire to “try it out.” I have no problem with allowing them the freedom to see what it’s like.
I also want my sons to grow up knowing how to care for children, cook, clean, etc. and my daughters to grow up knowing how to work in the garden, fix things, work on cars, etc. They all need these skills. I don’t see that it does anyone any good to say “girls cook and clean and raise babies, and boys do yard work, earn money, and fix things.” Really? Both should be involved with both! Girls can fix things and boys can (should) be good daddies! I’m willing to let them grow up to adopt the roles they want to adopt, whether that’s a single, career-driven person (girl or boy) or a family-focused person who marries and has kids right out of high school. Whatever it is they want to do. Because real ‘equality’ is about choice and acceptance.
That’s not what this new “genderless” movement is about, though.
People are not genderless. They are born with both physical sex characteristics which define them as male or female, and a strong sense of ‘who they are.’ We noted from a very young age that my daughter had a strong interest in cars — and pink things. She wants a “pink princess tractor.” It’s not something we ever said she should or shouldn’t want, it’s something she came up with on her own.
This movement, though, is not actually about removing gender stereotypes. It seems to actively encourage children to cross-dress, engage in opposite-gender behavior (opposite of what is ‘typical’), it actively teaches them that being gay/lesbian is good and encourages them to behave that way. For example, the preschool will suggest that families can have two or three mommies when the children are playing. Not that I think this is wrong, if it’s child led — my daughter once observed two women and a bunch of children getting in car and said, “Look, that family has two mommies!” (though I suspect it was more likely two friends and their children), and that’s okay if she perceives it that way or asks about it — but when it’s adult led, that’s a problem. They’re not actually teaching equality and tolerance, they’re training children to be gay/lesbian/transgendered!
The vast majority of children, regardless of their upbringing, will grow up to adopt generally traditional gender roles and identities. That is, if they are female, they’ll feel like women and be heterosexual. Look at most of the children raised by gay or lesbian couples — the vast majority of them are not transgendered nor gay/lesbian; they tend to adopt traditional roles! They are certainly open to alternative lifestyles, but they do not adopt them because that is not right for them. To try to pretend otherwise in these ridiculous “genderless” schools is to deny that fact, and to confuse children by making them feel that they should be different!
It is also impossible to remove children from society at large. They will get all kinds of messages from all different people about what different gender roles are. They see TV, have friends, go to school, etc. And even if you remove them from much of this — my kids don’t generally watch any live TV nor go to school — they’ll still absorb it from friends and family and even from shopping trips! There are messages everywhere.
The point is, it’s enough to allow your children to play with the toys they want, wear the clothes they like, and accept them for who they are, acknowledging there’s a 95% chance they’ll grow up more or less into ‘normal’ gender roles. It’s not okay to force them into any rigid role, whether it’s a traditional role or a non-traditional role.
So what if my daughter ends up loving sports (which my husband and I both hate)? If that’s what she loves, we’ll support her all the way. So what if my son wants to dance or do gymnastics? We’ll support him too. Or what if my daughter decides to dance and my son wants to play football? Does that somehow mean we’ve “failed” as parents, because they ended up adopting more traditional gender identities? No! Although that’s the message I’ve been seeing from some of the ultra-liberals.
For all of these reasons, there’s no way I’d choose to raise any child as genderless. They are biologically male or female and they need to know it, and there’s no need to hide it from the rest of the world. You better believe I’ll be proudly announcing, “It’s a ____!” when my baby is born. I can love my baby and raise him/her to participate in many different activities and explore his/her own interests without having to take it to the ridiculousness that is “genderless” parenting. Truly, there is no such thing. A child has to have a gender identity of some sort, most will choose traditionally, so it is impossible and ridiculous to try to pretend this isn’t true. Just love and encourage your child for whoever s/he is and it will be fine!
What do you think? Would you ever raise a child genderless?
Related: Raising boys or girls — what’s the real difference?
Top image by M Glasgow
Editors Note: This blog post reflects the view of the blogger; not that of Babble Media.