Gender Neutrality


Why do parents attempt to fit a square peg in a round hole? When new parents try their best to force a child to be gender-neutral, I find it to be totally ridiculous.

Boys and girls are inherently, fundamentally, and irreconcilably different.

In this article in Newsweek, Jesse Ellison wrote:

In 1978, the year I was born, feminists like my mother were embracing the notion that gender roles were entirely rooted in the way that you were raised. In the 1970s, the feminist fringe was giving up bras, shaving, and diets; they were lighting their own cigarettes and opening their own doors. It was the “new feminism,” and where the first movement was concerned with legal equality, like the right to vote, these women were focused on de facto equality: asserting that it was nurture, not nature, that made women and men different. To bust out of gender oppression also meant to assert that there was absolutely nothing different about our biological makeup.

“We all thought that the differences had to do with how you were brought up in a sexist culture, and if you gave children the same chances, it would equalize,” my mom says. “It took a while to think, ‘Maybe men and women really are different from each other, and they’re both equally valuable.’ “

That should be the end of the discussion, but it seems that we have so many new parents caught up in this ‘gender neutral’ nonsense. They all eventually fail in their attempts to turn boys into girls and vice versa. They squirm for a few years and come to the understanding that boys and girls, who eventually turn into men and women are…news flash…DIFFERENT! We have been mislead into believing that the sexes are the same.

In an articled titled ‘One Dad’s Ill-Fated Battle Against the Princesses’ published recently in The Atlantic, one father tried, and failed, to keep princesses away from his daughters. Yet another failed attempt in gender neutral child rearing.

Four years ago, the news that my wife and I were going to have twin girls coincided with the moment of my most fervent dedication to the notion that gender is, for the most part, socially constructed. Many academic types abandoned this attitude long ago, and regular people tend to as well, especially after being around a child of one gender or another for any length of time; but I clung to it. And sure enough, after spending most of my waking hours during the last three years with my little girls and their friends of both sexes, I had to admit that I can see some basic differences you can usually count on between even the youngest boys and girls.

Well, I’m glad you figured that our sir. I could have told you that before you had kids.

This princess stuff that people are so upset about? People say they don’t want their little girl to be a princess. Really? When I play in wedding bands every weekend, I see the inevitable result of the longing to be what many women secretly desire…to be a princesses. Yes, any woman that gets married eventually turns into that princess. I see nothing wrong with that. Yes, she is a princess for that day. Unfortunately, many of those princesses for a day also unrealistically expect to be treated like that for the rest of their lives.

The unrealistic expectation of being a princess for a lifetime is probably where the princess problem needs to be seriously addressed. That just might be a whole other blog post.

The author  writes about an opportunity to finally explain to his daughters how they could be anything they want and they shouldn’t aspire to be a princess. Just look at a career woman like Supreme Justice Sotamayor!

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a video clip from Sesame Street in which Abby Cadabby, the irrepressible fledgling fairy, talks to Sonia Sotomayor about the word “career.” Abby announces her aspiration to one day have “a career as a princess,” after which the Supreme Court Justice quickly convinces her that being a princess is not a career. “A career,” Sotomayor explains, “is a job that you train and prepare for, and that you plan to do for a long time.”

Well, isn’t being a mother, or a father a career to by this definition? It is amazing how much emphasis that our culture puts towards life outside the home. We seem to overlook the contributions stay at home parents make. Why do we do our best to prepare people for careers that we really cannot stand, yet rarely plan for the event that will bring us the most fulfillment. Being a parent is arguably most important thing us humans will ever do. I feel our culture has it backwards.

Yesterday morning, when I dropped the girls off at preschool, one of them, who used to say she was going to be a cowgirl when she grew up, repeated her latest dream, apropos of nothing: “I’m going to be a princess when I grow up.”

“But don’t you remember what Abby and the nice lady said? Is being a princess a real career?” That’s what I always say when she mentions her new life goal.

“No,” she said. “But I don’t want to have a real career.” Then she skipped off.

Everyone is not designed to be a supreme court justice, scientist, engineer, doctor or nuclear physicist. Maybe some of us will be plumbers, construction workers, customer service representatives, or hmmm, maybe, great mothers. Nah, THAT is not something we want our little girls to aspire to be. No way! Maybe we can teach our sons about how wonderful it is to be a….shhhhh… father. Nah, go out and be a real man and work for Goldman Sachs and be a captain of industry and make lots of money!!! Forget that fact that you will eventually have children who need you not just for your money. Your career is supposed to be your first priority?!

We tend to feed into cultural myths that do more harm than good.

Let girls be girls and boys be boys. Do you need proof that boys and girls are different? Have kids. Experience is the best teacher. If you don’t want to go down that route, I suggest you spend a day or two watching how boy splay and how girls play. They are totally different. Embrace the differences and enjoy it. Modern parents are fighting a battle they just cannot win. Nature always has the last laugh.

1 comment for “Gender Neutrality

  1. January 28, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    “When new parents try their best to force a child to be gender-neutral, I find it to be totally ridiculous.” No-one does this. What parents do is put their idea of gender identity onto a child rather than let that child be themself. The nature/nurture debate sidetracks from the real point about children being heavily socialised according to gender.We dont need to prove that there are no sex differences between boys and girls to make the case that limiting their access to learning and play opportunities is damaging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *