Thursday, 19 July 2012

Gender specific

I did a course in feminist literature at Uni. It was all a bit bonkers and I did it because one of my friends was and I had to fill in a bit of my timetable somehow. The woman that ran it was awfully po-faced and we had all big crushing lectures about the patriarchy and the male canon of literature and so forth. My favourite moment was when, at the end of one of the tutorials, one of the mature students started talking about her problems with finding a nursery. The lecturer said,

"Yes, well, I know what you mean. I've got a little girl - " and then she frowned and interrupted herself.

"Oh dear! I called her a little girl. That's so gender specific of me."

Oh dear.

Anyway, I had read that women who have gone through IVF and infertility become more fixated with a fantasy child, and pick one gender or the other that they want, and then build up from there.

My personal experience is the opposite. I got a bit funny about planning either way, partly out of gratitude I was going to have any child, but also because it felt like jinxing it. A lot of people I know found out the gender at scans but didn't tell anyone, or made a big thing out of the reveal. I resolutely did not want to know. After all the previous losses, you get paranoid about anything that might make another one more difficult.

Anyway, I'm actually not that keen on the whole pink for a girl, blue for a boy thing - although we seem to have vast amounts of blue clothing anyway, mostly given to us. I did find it a bit odd that there's so little unisex baby clothing out there, and even one very gender neutral thing I picked, with a safari print on it, had a label that specified it was for boys. I do have a "Mummy's little boy" vest somewhere, but it gives me the boak. Possibly just as much as a "Daddy's little princess" dress would.

It still feels a bit strange, sometimes. It's good having a baby, of any shape or form, without starting to attach conditions to it. It's very hard not to attach any conditions, though. I'll be happy if any child of mine grows up to be happy, and enjoy reading and travel, and are prepared to stand up against injustices. Those surely aren't bad things to want, regardless of whether you've had a boy or girl.

I think it's a bit different if you've had a late loss and know the gender of the baby that's died. That must be an awful thing to work through.

Rather less sympathetically, I know there are people that want to find out because they have a baby of one flavour and want one of the other. A very irritating colleague, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, told me a big long story about how he had two boys already and wanted a girl, then his wife found out she was having another boy but it was a happy ending, because they were both okay about it really. I think he expected that made him look admirable. I think it made him look like an arsehole, but was too polite to say.

But, for me, although the Boy is the Boy, he might as well be called the Baby. Gender doesn't make much difference at the moment. Although he does do very loud farts.

Associating farts with masculinity? How very gender specific of me.

1 comment:

  1. LOL. My sister's only child is a girl. But she has bright red hair. Hence, pink doesn't work. Which is great, because I hate the "girl's must wear pink" thing that is so all pervasive in society, and so does her mother. So I've been very good at buying clothes for her that are not pink. Blue looks great on her. But of course - they are specifically blue clothes for girls. Oh dear. I've even bought her a blue dress. How very gender specific of me. Now I'm questionning everything, worrying that I am failing my favourite Pol Sci lecturer (a bloke - to be gender specific).