Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Gender Stereotypes - They Start in the Womb

Knowing I'm having a boy this time has been quite interesting. When I tell people, the first reaction is invariably, "ooh one of each!" I never quite know how to respond to this because I wasn't really bothered whether it's a boy or a girl. I found out because a) I don't like surprises, and b) I feel weird referring to my child as 'it'. I kind of wish I could have another baby just to show that 'one of each' wasn't my sole aim. (More on why that's not going to happen here.)

I've also heard some interesting comments about what to expect from having a boy. My mum happily affirmed that boys sleep better. This is from a sample size of two boys and one girl - and one of those boys didn't sleep through till he was 4. I've also been told that boys are more confident and boisterous than girls - a 'fact' which, seeing as I already have possibly the most confident and boisterous child known to man (and guess what, she's female), strikes utter terror into my heart. Don't get me wrong, I love that Eleanor is brave, tough, extroverted and almost fearless - but it's exhausting to parent and I don't think I could handle a child that's more so!!

I find it fascinating and, if I'm honest, frustrating how babies are attributed certain qualities before they've even exited their mother's body, purely on the basis of their gender. I had a Twitter conversation about this a few months back where someone said that reporting of foetal movements changes once mothers know the gender. But interestingly this can go either way - a lively male foetus will be described as 'rough' or 'boisterous', but a quieter one will be 'lazy'. When pregnant with Eleanor she was VERY lively, painfully so, and when I mentioned this to someone they said she must be a can-can dancer rather than a footballer. Eh?

Much as I love our modern ability to find out the gender before birth, it does seem to have created a culture where we are ready with the gender labels before we're even halfway through pregnancy. There's talk about 'pink bumps' and 'blue bumps', and expectant parents create gender reveal videos themed in pink and blue. My daughter's favourite colour is blue. So's mine. Weird, considering we're both female.

So please, next time someone tells you what they're having, don't rush in with stereotypes. The kid isn't even born yet, give it chance to have its own personality. The only definite difference between boy and girl babies is their relative ability to pee in your face. Fact.

2 comments:

  1. When I told some old ladies in my church that I was having a girl, 2 of the reactions included:
    "Oh lovely, you'll be able to do crafts and baking and all sorts with her" (could I not do that with a boy?!)
    and
    "That's good, she will be such a help to you when she is older" (what...?!)

    I really kicked back against the whole pink thing, but it is kind of inevitable. I've put her in lots of different colours, including blue and Ireland-rugby-green! Unfortunately due to her lack of hair everyone thinks she is a boy when she wears those... infuriating!

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    1. Ugh. I can *sort of* get the help comment as it's only a couple of generations ago when daughters were expected to muck in with the chores while the sons did what they wanted, but the baking and crafts comment - what?!

      I can sympathise with the being mistaken for a boy thing, any time Eleanor was dressed in anything but top-to-toe pink she was assumed to be a boy! I think it's because she was a, er, well-built baby. Although once as a toddler she got mistaken for a boy because she was wearing a dinosaur splash suit, I was actually quite proud about that!!

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