Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gender-bending blues

"What an adorable baby! Look at those eyes! How old is he?"

"SHE is almost 8 months old."

(Repeat ad nauseum)

Okay, so I was definitely a tomboy growing up. And I'm all for doing my best not to indoctrinate the Bean with traditional gender expectations (as much as I possibly can, as someone who has been culturally brainwashed herself). Bean takes her blue and green dinosaur and bug blanket with her to school for naps. She's got a wide collection of cars to play with. And if someday I were to buy her a microscope, I would buy her the "boys" microscope (i.e. a microscope actually equipped for a kid to go out and look at stuff under a microscope), instead of the "girls" microscope (which is pink, and is meant for looking at diamond crystals... because everyone knows diamonds are a girls best friend).

That being said, I am not going to prevent her from playing with Barbies or doing other "girly" things if she's so inclined. I plan to try my best not to encourage or discourage activities or interests on the basis of traditional gender roles.

But for some reason, it REALLY bothers me when people say that Bean is a boy. She is quite often color-coded for your convenience, wearing pink or purple. She rarely wears blue (mostly because they don't make a lot of girls clothes in blue). Even so, people will often mistake her for a boy.

This shouldn't bother me any more than when people call my dog a boy. I mean, she's a baby. Baby's are round and chubby and pink, no matter their gender. But for some reason, I always correct the person when I should just let it go...

7 comments:

arduous said...

I've been wondering lately what I'd do if my daughter wanted to play with Barbies. Truthfully, I loved, loved, loved Barbie dolls when I was little. I also loved pink, wearing dresses, and Snow White.

This did not stop me from writing feminist fairy tales in the 5th grade (well, I didn't THINK of them as feminist fairy tales, I just wanted to write a fairy tale where the girl kills the goblin)or from growing up to be your average, well-adjusted empowered woman. Or whatever it is that I am.

So I agree with you 100% that if Bean wants Barbies, that's totally cool. I think you have a great attitude about it. But I do have to say, I never know what gender a baby is, unless their mom has put little bows in their hair. Or you could go my aunt's route, and put little silver bell anklets on Bean. This had the added bonus of making a jingly noise every time my cousin moved, so we could always tell if my cousin was getting into something she shouldn't.

The bean-mom said...

Baby Lgume is *always* mistaken for a boy. She doesn't have that much pink clothes for some reason (or it's frilly stuff that isn't so convenient). Yup, if your baby's not in pink or anything overtly feminine, people are going to assume she's a boy...

ScienceWoman said...

I *so* know what you mean. Even when I dress Minnow in pink, she still gets called a boy (particularly by older men). I wonder whether its the short hair. As if little girl babies magically came out of the womb with long braided hair.

Jane said...

Yeah, I've noticed that if Baby Jane's not in head-to-toe girly girl pink, people assume she's a boy. Even if she's wearing girly-ish clothes in other colors. Ugh ugh ugh!

mamabear said...

people are just stupidly unobservant sometimes. my little guy was once called "she" when he was head to toe in a blue outfit with a dinosaur motiff. and we had just called him by his name. silly people!

Another Mom said...

Yeah, it goes both ways, but it is REALLy annoying for some reason! My son is such a boy, looks like a boy, even has a deep growl like a boy. But he's been called a girl more times than I can count. I think part of it is that we are so in touch with our babies and know them so well we can't possibly imagine someone not knowing what gender they are, when in fact for most strangers on the street they see a baby and that's it. And then they have a 50/50 change of guessing right. and unfortunately they often guess wrong.

EcoGeoFemme said...

My 11-year-old niece is sometimes called a boy, so don't feel too bad about your neutral looking infant. Of course, my niece chooses her own clothes and haircuts to look boyish, so it's hard to blame people who think she's a boy.