People seem obsessed with gender in our culture. As soon as you announce that you're pregnant, people can't wait to find out "what you're having." It's as if having a child of a particular gender, or "one of each," makes a family complete. When I found out I was having a son, I heard so many bizarre comments about his gender. In talking with other moms, I've learned that I'm not alone in this experience. They also heard some really weird, inappropriate, and rude comments when they announced they were having a boy.
These comments seem to fall into three basic categories:
- The idea that your husband and/or partner will be only be pleased with you if you'e pregnant with a boy, or that you need at least one boy to have a complete family. This implies that boys are more desirable than girls.
- The idea that boys and girls naturally and without the help of social conditioning behave differently or have different temperaments.
- Questions and/or comments about circumcision.
In my case, I received comments associated with each one of these categories, and all from my midwife. As soon as she saw a penis on the ultrasound she said, "Good job, now you have one of each. I bet your husband will be pleased. Are you planning to circumcise him?" No, I am not joking.
Now, I am not saying that gender disappointment isn't real, or that it isn't valid to want to have a baby of one sex or another, but it would be so nice if people didn't assume your kids will behave a certain way based on their anatomy, or that your family is only complete if you have a boy. As a mom to daughters and sons, I know that gender roles are pretty much for the birds, and we shouldn't buy into harmful stereotypes about who our kids are or who they'll become.
I wish that people would get over their obsession with gender, because holy crap, people are seriously rude about it.
"Several strangers asked me if I was going to circumcise him, which is an obnoxious question to ask a stranger. Also, people asked if I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to buy all of the cute frilly clothes."
"'You're getting him circumcised?'
'I don't like the name Nash.'
'Oh, were you hoping for a girl?'
'Are you disappointed it isn't a girl?'
'Now you'll have to have another and try for a girl.'"
"I’m having my second boy. More often than not, the very first response is an apology, a hug, or something along the lines of 'you’ll just have to try again for a girl.' What? My mother-in-law literally cried when I told her, because she wanted a granddaughter that badly."
"I called my mom after our sex reveal ultrasound with our second child.
Me: 'It's a...'
Mom interrupts me: 'Girl! I knew it!'
Me, 'Nope. Another boy.' Feeling like I got punched in the gut.
Mom: 'Well, I guess I'll get off the computer. I was shopping for girl clothes.'
Ouch. We were happy we were having a healthy baby."
"The head of my department at the time took me aside multiple times to bemoan how his wife hadn't 'given him a boy yet,' and told me I was doing a great thing for my husband since 'it is so important for a man to have his boy.'"
"I had both, and mostly heard, 'Now you have a perfect set. One of each. You never have to be pregnant again.'"
"With one toddler boy and twin boys on the way, 'Now you need to balance everything out with a girl.'
I was 46, and had gone through IVF with donor gametes, and six miscarriages."
"'I bet your husband's happy!' Over and over and over."
"You are too old to have another boy. You better hire a young nanny."
"Are you going to have another one, and try for a girl, or are you going to get fixed?"
"'Are you worried he will be gay?'
To which I replied, 'No, I'm worried he will be a neo-con.'"
"My eldest son is Autistic. When I found out our third was a boy I was told, 'Oh, I'm sorry. He's much more likely to be like his brother, then.'
I said to them, 'If he is anything like his big brother I couldn't be more excited and proud.'"
“'Oh, one of each, now you can be done!' Well, our family planning isn’t really any of your business, but thanks."
"From my mother-in-law: 'Are you sure? But I want a granddaughter.' She carried it on throughout the whole of my second pregnancy. I think she believes that I was just having sons to spite her."
"'Boys are so much easier than girls. You're lucky.'
'Oh, I bet Daddy is happy!'
'Oh, I bet you're disappointed it's not a girl.'
Most of them were just sexist assumptions about a boy being better than a girl, which pissed me off."
“At least you don’t have to worry about teen pregnancy!”
"'Don't dress him in pink or let him have any dolls. He'll be *whispers* gay, you don't want that.' I was extremely angry."
"When I announced we were having a boy, a person I had drifted apart from emailed me out of the blue to congratulate me. She felt it necessary to let me know her opinion that circumcision is a horrible thing and gave a list of mommy blog links as to why. I was in shock that she felt not only comfortable and entitled enough to say this to me, but also presumed that I had no knowledge of or opinion on it, since I was a first time mother-to-be. I politely told her that it was a decision already made solely between my husband, myself, and our pediatrician of choice. It still astounds on me over a year later."
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