Today I am going to take a different turn with my post topic of the week. This past week on AOL News I read about a Canadian couple who is keeping the gender of their 4-month old baby, Storm, a secret. They are doing this so that their child can choose its own identity without societal pressure to conform to gender norms. Their decision has, of course, caused quite a stir among the general populace, as well as among psychologists and early education specialists. Some call it progress; others, a form of psychological child abuse.
My initial reaction was one of disbelief and ridicule. How far are people going to go and to what end? I think it’s very possible that they may unconsciously push their child into one gender by overcompensating to avoid favoring the gender it acutally is. Why make life more complicated than it already is? And why is it such a big deal if our society has gender roles and norms? In reality, every society and culture does. Hey! Even the animal kingdom acknowledges differences between sexes.
But then I started to reconsider my position and dared to think that some good might actually come of this. Perhaps the parents will be successful in creating a gender-neutral environment so that nature can take its natural course, unencumbered by nurture. It will be fascinating to see which gender this child “chooses.” If it is a boy, will he be drawn to cars, and swords, and tackle games? Will he indeed favor blue and puke at pink? Or maybe it is a girl. Will she cuddle baby dolls and want a princess birthday party? Will she play dress up and walk around the house in her mom’s high-heels?
There are only a few moments in time when society’s pendulum is perfectly centered. It is usually swinging from one extreme to another. Sure – boys can cry and girls can climb trees; dads can change diapers and moms can change a tire. There is nothing wrong in that. But we don’t have to frown when boys despise pink or when little girls want to be mommies when they’re all grown up. Roles provide stability in a world that’s spinning while the pendulum swings.
So, Storm, what’s it going to be? Pink or blue?