5 Reasons Why I Think the Genderless Childhood Trend is CrapCarolyn Castiglia
As our regular readers know, a Toronto couple made headlines around the world after announcing last month that they would raise their baby, Storm, without letting anyone know the child’s gender. Then yesterday, Meredith noted that a public school in Sweden has instructed children not to utter the words him, her, he, she, girl or boy. (That’s han, hon, honom, henne, pojke and flicka, if the online translator is to be believed.) “The move is being made in an attempt to eliminate gender bias,” Meredith writes. Gender bias may be a problem, but pronouns aren’t.
Meredith believes “there’s a difference between gender equality and gender neutrality,” and I totally agree. Here are five reasons why I think this gender-neutral trend is a bunch of crap:
Some Girls Actually Like Pink 1 of 5Sure, I think we're all a little tired of the old "blue for boys, pink for girls" standard of dress and room decor, and I'm with Peggy Orenstein when it comes to the proliferation of all things pink and princess for girls, but offering our children only green clothes and gender-neutral toys robs those who might be "girly girls" or "boys' boys" the opportunity to geek out on stuff they like. I don't care if your son wants to wear nail polish, but don't make him wear it if he doesn't want to in an effort to get him in touch with his feminine side. Why do we have to strip children of pronouns just to make it okay for them to like a variety of clothing and toys? Photo via Flickr
Avoiding Pronouns Doesn’t Erase a Child’s Sex 2 of 5I don't want to live in a world where boys and girls can't be whoever or whatever they want, either, but I don't think stripping away pronouns is going to do anything to change that. Instead of trying to deny the fact that we're boys and girls, men and women, let's just continue to open up our definitions of what it means to be "male" and "female." I don't deny that there are some "third-gendered" people out there, but I also think it's important for people to be able to enjoy identifying as a man or a woman... or both, if that's how you want it. But let's not be nothing. Photo via Flickr
Saying Someone’s Name Over and Over is Really Tiresome 3 of 5"How's Emma?," a friend would ask. No, not Emma. Emma is too feminine. And even gender-neutral names like Pat are too male/female, so Gender-Neutral Parents will start naming their kids things like Glork. "How's Glork?," your friend asks. "Oh, Glork is good," you'll reply. "Glork had a rash yesterday so Glork wasn't feeling well, but now Glork is back in school. Glork has a soccer match this afternoon, and I can't wait to go and see Glork score!" Barf. (That's Glork's best friend. Barf's name is Barf.) Photo via Flickr
Androgyny Isn’t That Popular 4 of 5Though maybe it would be if people didn't feel a need to conform to gender stereotypes, I don't know. (I did sort of look like this kid when I was 12, but I wasn't happy about it.) Most people who transition from one gender to the next do exactly that, they don't live somewhere in between. Yes, there are men who like dresses and women who prefer menswear. If your child feels genderqueer, he or she will tell you when he or she figures it out. I know what it feels like to be a little girl with short hair, and how embarrassed I was when people would say, "Your son is so cute!" If your girl wants short hair and your son wants long hair, that's fine. But if you've never let him have short hair, how do you know that's what he really wants? Photo via Flickr.
What About Bonding With Your Gender? 5 of 5Male bonding. Female bonding. Who will you go to the game with/watch Sex and the City with if we live in a gender-neutral world? Of course women are welcome at the game and men are welcome on the couch when Carrie's on TV, but would we be robbing ourselves of the bond we feel with our brothers and sisters in a gender-neutral world? What about sports? Should all teams be co-ed? Photo via Flickr
I don’t have a problem with men doing traditionally female things or women doing traditionally male things, but I think to pretend like we’re not of different genders is silly. Men and women have a lot in common, and our own unique strengths that should be celebrated. What’s your take on gender neutrality?