Thursday, June 30, 2005

I Love You, But I Wish You Were a Girl?

My fiance likes to turn on The Today Show as he is getting ready for work in the morning. It's about the only mainstream TV we watch, other than some sports. Anyway, last Tuesday there was a segment on mothers of sons who really want daughters instead. The whole thing was so wrong for several reasons.

First of all, these mothers acted like their kids owed them something -- like kids should merely exist to make parents happy. The moms complained that their sons didn't meet their expectations. They didn't want to do the same things that they (the moms) wanted to do. You know, all the important stuff like shopping, playing with makeup, and brushing long hair. (Um, am I the only one who's glad these shallow women didn't have girls?)

Second, the moms assumed that little girls would like all that studpid stuff just because of their femaleness. I'm sorry, but I hated shopping when I was little! (In fact, I still hate it.) And I especially hated people messing with my long hair. One mom on the show said that when she visits a friend who has a daughter, she immediately takes the girl and starts braiding her hair. Ew! I remember creepy ladies like that from my childhood, and I definitely did not enjoy them. But it didn't matter what I wanted -- I was just a child, an object, a tool for the amusement of adults. It only mattered what they wanted. And what they wanted was basically a doll. Newsflash: they actually sell dolls in stores, and they're much cheaper than real children!

Third, these moms were on national television proclaiming that they didn't have a bond with their sons like they would if they had daughters. (And they know that... how?) Sure, they gave the predictable disclaimer, "I love my sons, but..." I'm sorry. That doesn't justify it.

My son watched the show with us, and he said, "They say they love their boys, but it sounds like they really don't." I couldn't have said it better myself. These moms sounded more like they loved the idea of having children. The fact that their children turned out to be actual people with their own unique traits seems to have disappointed them.

Feminists are often criticized for (supposedly) thinking that boys and girls are exactly the same, aside from genitalia. But I don't see it that way. Rather, I see it as all of us being individuals. I am aware that girls tend to have more 'feminine' traits than boys. But by no means do I discount individuality to the point where I would have my sons' or daughters' interests already mapped out for them. Nor do I think boys are so inherently different from girls (or that all boys are alike) that I think I can't bond with a boy. But I suppose if you're a mom who believes in a strictly gendered world, then it makes sense to think that you can't bond as well with a son. Heck, he probably has cooties!

I genuinely love the unique person my son is. It does not disappoint me when his interests are different from mine or my fiance's. And it certainly doesn't disappoint me that he happens to be male.

But what do I know? I'm just a male-bashing feminist.

My wife & I (11 days!) are expecting our first child and it amazes me how many people are suprised that
1. We don't know the child's gender
2. We don't care.

Frankly I'm excited to learn about the child's personality, however it may develop.
Whoa, congratulations Ron!
That is wonderful, Ron!

I can understand where that sort of "boys are like this, girls are like this" thinking comes from. I daresay that I consider it less through malicious intent and more through lack of exposure to more modern ideas and examples.

(I wonder... If these women's sons had been stereotypically gay, would that have pleased them? ;) Love shopping, combing long hair, etc...)
Your son is very smart, and right on the money. How sad for those other boys that the women who gave birth to them can't see past their genitalia to love them for the beautiful gift that they are. Boys are fun (I'm sure girls are too, but I don't have any of those).

Congratulations, Ron! We didn't find out the gender of our baby either and everyone thought we were very strange. Which we are, I guess, but that is certainly a benign manifestation of it.
I've done an obscene amount of babysitting over the past few years and have always ended up with boys. A few months ago when I switched to two families with all girls I received the "you know, girls are very different from boys" lecture on numerous occasions. They seemed horrified at my flippant attitude about gender roles. These parents seem determined to judge their kids’ personalities based on gender much more so than their individuality.
Excellent post.
Some people are just unbelievable. Gee, I wonder what they'd have said if their sons were autistic.... @@

Everyone with a daughter tells me I should be glad I only have a son, because boys don't get PMS. LOL
I have a son and I am desperately sad about it. Here I was hoping to get a female that could take up the slack on the cleaning and laundry and cooking around the house, but instead I have another drain on the domestic resouces. Life is so unfair. Fuck Mendel and his pea plants.
I, too, wondered how these women would feel if their sons were feminine men or mtf's. If I were God, I'd be sorely tempted to grant their wish in just that way.

But then, if I were God, I'd probably be less petty.

I think that this child-as-toy idea fits into another burdensome trope, one that is especially focused on women, and one that talk shows have grown up to exploit: the idea that one's gender non-conformity is a reflection on one's parents and family. Talk shows are also full of those, "Why won't you dress girlier?!" and "Why won't you dress nicer?!" episodes, where the tearful mom confronts the unrepentently butch/sloppy/slutty daughter. This episode was about a gentler, more tragic problem, one that the boys couldn't very well have been expected to solve. But the underlying premise, that your children have an obligation to not offend your sensibilities, was still there.
enlightenedcaveman, at least you can get him to clean the garage and mow the lawn!

This was so creepy. And what kind of moron goes on national TV and says they don't have that kind of bond with their kid? Yeah, I'm sure your son won't mind hearing that.
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