Sexism Begins In the Womb

We’ll be finding out the sex of the baby in about 3 weeks. I’m both looking forward to this, and…not. I’m looking forward to it because I’m intrigued to know if my intuition is correct, and because knowing the sex is one more piece of information that helps me to think of this fetus as a (future) little person, not just a blob making vague and shifty movements in my uterus. (For the record, I feel like this one is a girl, but my husband and I both have enormously male-dominated large extended families, so who knows?)

I’m not excited to tell other people, though. It will certainly put them at ease. The only two questions I regularly get from friends, family and colleagues are “How are you feeling?” and “Do you know what you’re having yet?” People seem so uncomfortable unless they can neatly categorize a baby into one sex or the other, because then they know what follow-up comments are appropriate (in their mind). But these comments tend to be steeped in cultural stereotypes about what boys and girls are – how they’re supposed to be dressed, or how they behave. Sexism starts in the womb! And that’s just it: even if I find out I’m having a girl, that really doesn’t tell me anything about the kind of girl my child will turn out to be. Will she grow up to be introverted, quiet, and bookish, like I was? Or a total girly-girl? Or maybe a nerdy, bookish girly-girl?

I’m sure that my mother had some ideas about what having a girl meant when she had me, and how fun it would be to dress me up in flowery dresses. Little did she know what she was getting into, because say what you will about me, but I don’t think I ever lived up to any reasonable cultural expectation of what girls are “supposed” to be like. I was reading Naomi Wolf at age 13, for chrissakes.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want other peoples’ comments, well-intentioned as they may be, to color my own perceptions of my child and whoever they eventually turn out to be. And neither do I want to be on the receiving end of glittery pink “Li’l Princess” onesies either. (Dinosaurs and robots only, please).

2 thoughts on “Sexism Begins In the Womb

  1. RV says:

    I’m buying your kid a pony regardless.

  2. [...] a girl! I don’t think I’ve had a shred of womanly intuition in all my life, but I was right about this one, dammit. Now that we know, I no longer have to lie and pretend like we didn’t have a [...]

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