questions for you: super-gendered childhood

As regular readers know, I’m working on a feminist book about parenting. Will you help me write a better, more inclusive project by answering some questions? Today, I’d like to know:

  • What’s your take on the power of gender in our culture’s current vision of childhood/children? What’s it like? Does it matter?
  • Do you have any anecdotes of encountering a world of pink vs. blue, pretty vs. tough/active, “girl” vs. “boy” clothes/toys/books/everythings? Do share.
  • Do you have any anecdotes involving other people’s need to identify a baby or child’s gender correctly, their discomfort at not getting it right or not seeing the signs they want to see, or your own need for others to recognize your baby as a girl or boy?

The details:

  • By commenting on this post, you are giving me permission to quote what you say here in my book. Please indicate the age(s) of your child or children, as well as whether you’d like to be identified by full name, first name only, or a pseudonym of your choice if I end up using your words.
  • Feel free to email your responses instead of commenting here, if you prefer: molly at firsttheegg dot com.
  • Please answer any question (or questions) that strikes your fancy, in any way, at any length. Anything relevant to these topics is welcome, even if what you have to say is not really related to the questions. I’m so grateful for any thoughts you offer!

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  1. Elita
    Posted 19 December 2012 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    One phenomenon I have noticed (that is annoying as hell) is that the default sex for a baby is “boy.” So if your baby is not in head-to-toe pink people will tell you what a “cute little boy” you have. And even if your baby IS in head-to-toe pink, if she doesn’t have a lot of hair, she must still be a boy. I don’t know why it bothered me so much that people got her sex wrong so often, but it did. Lots of babies look gender neutral for lack of a better term, but I’d rather someone ask.

  2. Posted 19 December 2012 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    I have one son, 8 months old.

    Everything about his life, since his conception, has been impacted by that hated question, “boy or girl?” I had no ultrasounds during pregnancy and relished the nine months in which Apple (our nickname for the baby) had no gender to live up to. I dress Apple in all colors and do shop from both sides of the children’s clothing sections; I do buy much more “Boy” labeled stuff than “Girl” labeled stuff, but after seeing what’s offered for little girls, I’d probably do the same if Apple were female. At a library baby group recently the parent of a 3-month-old girl was lauded for the child’s “adorable skinny jeans.” This was the cherry on the cake for me- after a constant bombardment of gender-role enforcing nonsense in that group, I’ve decided neither of us needs to be there any more. Even in our Music Together class, gender roles are laid on pretty thick- for example, during our teacher’s playacting during the song Old King Cole, Old Queen Cole and Young Princess Cole are apparently prancing dainty airheads while Old King Cole and even the Young Prince Cole are a big solid serious manly men. I try to counter this with my own suggestions of how these characters should be acted, for the (hopeful) benefit not just of my kiddo but of the other children there.
    Waiting with my newborn in the pediatrician’s office, I received the “boy or girl?” question from a woman. Apple was wearing a yellow newborn gown. The woman followed up her query with “It’s so hard to tell in yellow.” I WANTED to respond, Yes that is THE POINT but I’m entirely too timid and just said “boy.”
    When Apple and I go out, if he has any pink in his clothes he’s always “She” to the endless stream of people who stop us to gawk at him. I never correct people, but once a Grandma, Mom, and Baby Boy chatted us up for a moment, my “daughter” and I, then were browsing right behind us. The Grandma commented that she’d love to buy a certain pair of boots for the boy but that the boy’s father wouldn’t have it, since the boots weren’t suitably masculine for a one-year-old male I guess, and I turned around and said in a conspiratorial voice, “This is really a boy.” Her shocked expression made me hope that my intended “Screw gender presentation rules!” message wasn’t confused for a “I really wanted a girl so I pretend I have one” theme.
    I try very hard. I rarely feel like I win.

    - Jack (Connecticut)

  3. Posted 19 December 2012 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    I think we are a discriminating species by nature, and feel more comfortable when we know the sex of a person/baby because it creates order in our minds. I wanted to know the sex of my fetuses (feti?) in the womb, I don’t blame others for wanting to know if I have a boy or girl. There is nature and nurture, and I try to unpack how the “nurture” can impact lives in negative ways by imposing power, limitnig options, etc. But the truth is there are fundamental differences in the sexes, from wherever those differences spring, and I would engage with a son differently than a daughter. I loved imagining my children and what they would become when fully formed, and it was hard for me to do that without knowing their sexes.

    So, others wanting to know my baby’s gender never bothered me. My issue comes with what those little tumblers in the brain settle on once they decide what I’ve got – a little princess, or a little man.

    To that end, I am disturbed by the fierce gender norming that my 4 yo son is receiving at his pre school. He asked me the other day what my favorite color was, and when I said blue, he corrected me – blue is for boys, he said, you are a girl so you have to like pink or purple. I raised an eyebrow and corrected him right back – girls and boys can like whatever color they want, Jack, I said. Meanwhile my sons’ closet is full of blue, his female cousins’ completely pink and purple and princess. I don’t have the money, time, or patience to seek gender neutral clothing – it is not where I choose to pour my energies. But I can see why Jack has come to the “pink=girl, blue=boy” conclusion – it’s a rational one, derived from his empirical experience. This from the child who will still on occasion ask to wear his pink and black tutu – a child who still, at age 4, has never seemed to notice that the naked bodies of men and women are in any way different. He is getting some kind of strong lesson about the “right” toys, the “right” colors, the “right” affinities, and he’s toeing the line because he’s my obedient one. But it doesn’t spring from any natural recognition of a difference between girls and boys. There are natural, instinctual areas where he and his brother are “all boy” as they say – they are extraordinarily rough and tumble, rougher than any girls their age that I know – Jack more often destroys things with his pink doll stroller than he does tenderly push a baby in it. His brother Liam occasionally loves to stroke his plush Princess Tiana doll and sing to it, but also stomps on it, smashes things, crash bang boom. But that’s their behavior, and not their perception of others’ behavior. That seems to be largely taught. I’m hoping to keep up with what they learn along those lines in school and outside our home, so we can talk about it in age appropriate ways.

    Another anecdote – and this one’s just sweet and funny. When Jack was an infant, he was wearing something that broadcast “boy” pretty clearly. (Like I said, it isn’t easy to find something neutral.) I’m pretty sure it was blue. In any case, an old man at a cash register in a bookstore had this exchange with me – pasted from my own blog archives, so forgive if the formatting is funky.

    ME (holding Jack in one arm and wrestling out my wallet with the other): I’ll take Puff the Magic Dragon please.
    CASHIER: What a beautiful baby! She is so cute.
    ME (smiling): Thank you! We love him a lot.
    CASHIER: How old is she?
    ME: He is about 4 weeks old. I’m buying him a one month birthday present.
    CASHIER: How sweet! What’s her name?
    ME: His name is Jack. We named him after his great grandfather.
    CASHIER: Jack, huh? Jack. Wow, that’s an interesting name for a girl.
    OTHER CASHIER WHO HAS BEEN WATCHING THE WHOLE EXCHANGE WHILE SNICKERING INTO HER SLEEVE: It’s a boy, Sam. Look at his little blue outfit. It’s a little boy.
    CASHIER: Oh! A little boy! Well that makes more sense. I hope I didn’t offend the little mite!
    ME: Of course you didn’t. He’s 4 weeks old, he can’t understand English! and neither, apparently, can you, but you’re old and nice so I forgive you. Have a great day!

  4. ruth
    Posted 19 December 2012 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    My 3 year old daughter is very, very feminine in the stereotypical way: loves pink, talks princesses ad nauseum, wants to take ballet classes and be a “pretty ballerina”. I attribute this to being in daycare (a wonderful place) and playing with other girls whose mothers push these notions onto their daughters, and reward them when their daughters act accordingly. Husband and I have made a very concerted effort from the day we confirmed that I was, in fact, pregnant to not make a big deal about gender. We did not find out the gender of our baby ahead of time (much to the shock of many) and dressed our daughter in “boys clothes” when she was little because we had them on hand and they fit. We make sure to give her a wide range of toys, from Legos to cars/trucks to dolls and we encourage getting dirty and the importance of being strong and smart over all else. I refuse to fight against the dolls and pink because it would just make us all miserable. Baby girl Dos is constantly called a ‘boy’ and it doesn’t bother me, she does look pretty gender neutral right now. It makes me laugh when people apologize for “getting it wrong”, as if they have somehow offended me.

  5. Posted 20 December 2012 at 12:46 AM | Permalink

    I have twin 2.5 year old boys. Gus’ favorite color is blue. Jack’s favorite color is purple. He loves purple in a big way. It took me quite awhile to find him a nice, “masculine” purple shirt. I seriously considered buying him one of the horrendously sparkly, fitted, cupcaked purple shirts in the girls’ section of Carters. But to be honest, I would not have bought one of those shirts for a little girl, either. (I am appalled at the “pink-i-fication” of girlhood because it is so damn limiting.) Jack has dark purple shirts, and asked for purple shoes before preschool started this year. I couldn’t find any that were dark enough for my husband’s taste. They were all “too girly”. And I went with that, because there are certain battles that I’m willing to let go. Slightly sparkly purple shoes would have caused quite a stir with the men in my family. I will save my energy for raising feminist boys. As of now, Jack has told me that he wants a pink and purple birthday cake. I will happily oblige him, just like I’ll make a chocolate and “va-milla” cake for Gus.

    Right now my boys are way more interested in categorizing people by sex than in playing with the “right” toys or colors. “Nana has a vulva? Just like you! Yay, mama!” or “Hmmm…. I have a penis, daddy has one, and Papaw does too? Oh, ok.” My favorite, though, is “No. Not everybody has nipples. I don’t have nipples. I have three bellybuttons.”

    My sister and her husband, even though they knew they were having a girl, bought a dark blue car seat and stroller combo. People assume my niece is a boy when she’s in one of those things, regardless of how much pink she’s wearing. My sister’s rationale for the purchase was, “I don’t care what people think my baby’s sex is. We can use this car seat again if our next child’s a boy.” I didn’t know whether to applaud her for her practicality or question why a boy couldn’t be in a pink car seat. She probably picks her battles along the same lines I do….

  6. Posted 20 December 2012 at 3:57 AM | Permalink

    I’m constantly irritated by Western culture’s unrelenting need to gender a fetus/baby/child. Honestly, I didn’t mind too much when people asked if it was a boy or girl when I was pregnant. I just assumed the well-meaning strangers were trying to make conversation. We chose not to find out the sex before birth, which almost no one respected or liked. My in-laws, my friends, strangers all wanted to know why we wouldn’t just find out the sex, as if it were so important. My mother-in-law even told me that she was upset that she couldn’t buy more for the baby while I was pregnant, because she didn’t know the sex. Seriously, slap a onesie (any color) and some stretchy leggings on that newborn and call it a day. I was told so often I was going to have a boy because of the way I was carrying. My neighbor told me it was a boy, because I looked great during my pregnancy and everyone apparently knows that a daughter steals her mother’s beauty in utero. Umm, what? I guess there were a lot surprised neighbors when we ended up with a girl.

    Now that our daughter is 15 months old we are starting to have problems finding clothes that look “girly” and aren’t 1) pink and 2) uncomfortable. A little pink is fine, but I like a little variety in her wardrobe, so I end up mixing in a lot of stuff from the boy side of the store or shopping at ridiculously over-priced, hipster baby stores. Dresses are completely off the table until she stops crawling; she trips on the hems. What I can’t seem to wrap my head around is why little girl pants are not made with movement in mind. We got a pair of skinny jeans for our daughter, and she couldn’t crawl comfortably in them. Since that time, we’ve almost always bought pants labeled for boys. They have more give so she can climb and get into mischief unencumbered. Leggings are a great option too, although I had a friend of mine tell me that she couldn’t buy the leggings for her baby boy, because they were too girly. So I guess parents of boys have their own set of wardrobe problems.

    The way we dress our daughter tends to get her labeled as a boy by strangers. She wears a lot of gray, blue, black although we’ve mixed in a lot purple and pink. Mostly we just need colors and styles that can hold up to the curious adventures and the messy eating manners of a toddler. I almost never correct people when they call her a boy, because I just don’t want to get into it.

    However, about two months ago when I went to go pick up my glasses, the optometrist made a comment about how beautiful my baby was. She kept going on and on about what beautiful eyes my baby had and such blond hair, pretty much the standard stuff. Then she said that my baby had the perfect boy’s head-I still don’t know what that means. With that comment I did say in a joking tone, “Well, she’s a girl, so…” Never have I seen someone so uncomfortable or embarrassed before. I felt so bad for the optometrist as she sputtered her way through an apology saying it was so difficult to tell. I told her it was fine and I wasn’t offended and that babies all look the same at that age. She responded, “But she’s wearing a blue sweater!” That’s true. She was wearing a blue sweater, over a blue tunic dress and black leggings. I think I said that I wear blue all the time and last time I checked not only boys wear blue. She sheepishly answered that that was true as she helped me with the door on the way out. That one has stayed with me the most, because it wasn’t just my baby’s clothes that were being gendered, it was also her physical shape that needed to fit into a specific boy/girl dichotomy. A boy’s head? Please!

  7. Hillary
    Posted 20 December 2012 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

    One thing I noticed is that hair trumps clothes. My oldest son has gorgeous silky, red hair that curls at the bottom. He has received an inordinate amount of attention for it his entire life. Most of his life we’ve kept his hair on the longer side. The longest it’s ever been was to his shoulders and most of the time it’s been professionally cut into a longer boys style — what they consider a snowboarder/skater style. As a result of his hair people always refer to him as a girl. The baby mix up stuff I never blinked an eye at — that happened to all my children and I understand. But my son would be wearing what we consider very “boy” clothes: collared plaid shirts, army fatigues, etc and still referenced by strangers as a girl probably 80-90% of the time.

    When he was about five he started to notice and began quietly mentioning it to us in little ways. Randomly while playing, “Yeah, well everyone thinks I’m a girl.” We talked about how it doesn’t matter what people think. “Are you a girl?” I’d ask. “No, I’m a boy.” he’d reply. “Well, that’s what is important.”

    And then I asked him why might people make the mistake and when we identified his hair I asked him if he wanted to cut it short. He didn’t at first, but a few months later he wanted to shave his head completely. My husband did not want him to cut it, purely because he really has the most beautiful hair. It seemed sad to cut it off because of other people’s perceptions, but mostly we wanted to support him in owning his body and having a hair style that made him feel the most comfortable.

    He shaved his head and stopped being mistaken for a girl. The hair grew in and now he keeps it medium boy length.

  8. Christina
    Posted 20 December 2012 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    Well, my baby isn’t here yet (32 weeks tomorrow!) and by not finding out the sex beforehand, we’ve managed to get mostly gender-neutral clothing, toys, books, etc. from friends and family members. A few disorganized thoughts come to mind:

    My husband and I were dead-set against finding out the sex of the baby because of this very reason in our culture — strictly gendered baby stuff. In the beginning, when friends and family members would ask us if we were going to find out the sex and we’d respond no, we’d get some pushback. A friend who recently had a daughter said, “How will I know if I can give you any of my baby clothes?” We replied that we’d be happy to accept anything she wanted to give us, regardless of whether our baby is male or female. We also got the predictable “It’s so hard to find gender-neutral clothing!” and we’d say, “That’s exactly why we’re not finding out, because it’s so ridiculous that infant clothes are so gendered. A baby girl has exactly the same needs as a baby boy — eat, sleep, be nuzzled and loved by parents and loved ones, and so on. The color of the onesie on the baby has no impact on those needs whatsoever.”

    A few weeks ago, we had a baby shower with members of my family. One of my aunts, who is a construction worker in Alaska (so, pretty hardcore), bought us a onesie with construction trucks and bulldozers and things like that on it. After we opened it, she kind of sheepishly said that her daughter (my cousin) said that she couldn’t buy it for me because it was too boyish and what if I had a girl? But my aunt said she just couldn’t resist. And my husband smiled and said, “Well, girls can drive trucks too.” And my aunt said, “Yeah! They can!” It was just such an interesting moment for me — this woman, who is herself a construction worker, was shamed about potentially buying a construction-themed onesie for my might-be-a-girl kid.

    Lately, as I’ve become more visibly pregnant and it becomes more of a topic of conversation with people I don’t know quite so well, when they inevitably ask “Do you know what you’re having?” — to which I am always tempted to respond, “A human, we think. Could be part-Cylon, though.” — or “Do you know the gender?” — to which I would like to say, “Oh, we probably won’t know that for years, and no, we don’t know the sex, either.” — and I say, “We’re going to be surprised in February,” the responses have been more along the “Good for you!” lines. The person then usually talks about how nothing’s a surprise anymore and when you know the sex of the baby beforehand, the birth is so anticlimactic for people other than the mother and her partner. I feel uncomfortable with this, though. I don’t like being congratulated for my choice not to find out the sex when in the same breath, others who do choose to find out are denigrated. It feels much too close to the “exceptional woman” trope — you know, you’re not like all those other women out there who ___, you’re cool and different! Or sometimes it feels like they’re trying to make me feel good about my choice, when I really don’t need or want that sort of empty, weird validation from acquaintances.

    I guess what I’m ultimately saying is that I wish I lived in a society where all women’s choices during pregnancy and childbirth were respected and where the existence of a vagina or penis on an infant didn’t dictate so many other things about what that baby “should” be like.

    (Please identify me by first name only, if you include these thoughts in your book. Thanks!)

    • A'Llyn
      Posted 21 December 2012 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

      Hi Christina! I felt the same way when people would say “good for you!” when I told them I wasn’t finding out the sex. I mean, I wasn’t doing it to show anyone up or because I thought it was a bad choice for anyone else, and it was kind of uncomfortable to be seen as ‘standing out from the (implied negative) crowd’. Like you say, the ‘exceptional woman’ trope: “you’re not like all those others.”

      Um…go to hell? I like other women, and I’m a lot like them in many ways and not a lot like them in others because we’re all different, and if other women want to know the sex of their babies in advance, they should go for it?

      Congratulations, and good luck for a smooth rest of your pregnancy, with limited annoying comments and lots of cute gender-neutral clothes!

  9. Posted 20 December 2012 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    First – I have been reading your blog since long before my pregnancy/birth of my son, and I am so grateful for your voice. Seriously looking forward to seeing this book come together.

    The stories I have hear are not that spectacular, but I wanted to share some anyway, because that’s the thing with this stuff – it is being built out of so many tiny bricks, in ways that may often go unnoticed.

    My mom’s partner is a particularly difficult case for us. We chose to find out the sex of our baby in utero, and when we told them it was a boy, he said “[Baby's father] must be so proud. Way to go [baby's father]!” The masculinity of our child has been extremely important to him ever since (said baby is now 17 mos old). When my mom asked what she should get the little one for Christmas this year, I gave her a few specific suggestions of relatively small, non-gendered toys of the type that he is drawn to at this age – shape matching, button-pushing, etc. While she bought exactly what we asked for, she clearly faced a lot of criticism from her partner for doing so – “But he’s a boy” was a statement that I heard repeatedly, which meant that he would need boy things, like tools and trucks. I also mentioned that he had been drawn to my friend’s daughters’ dolls, and that I would be buying him a doll for Christmas because nobody else was going to do it. I said that I think it’s important for boys as well as girls to learn to be nurturing (duh), and that dolls can be good for that. Mom’s partner suggested we get him a dog instead, because that’s how boys learn those things.

    The whole “misreading-gender” thing has happened all the time, complete with apologies as though it’s somehow an insult. During my son’s first year, we spent 8 months in the Brazilian Amazon, as I was working on a PhD project with Indigenous people there. My sister-in-law, a hairdresser, has a photo of him wearing feathers during a celebration there, which she has displayed at her station. Apparently almost everyone who comments asks who the beautiful little girl is, and when she says that it’s her nephew, they say “But why would someone put feathers on a boy?” I find that one interesting for two reasons – first, I just never thought of it as a particularly gendered thing to do, especially since the feathers are simple and white and whatnot, and second, because those items are actually exclusively worn by males in the place where we lived.

    One thing that I have found challenging as a long-time feminist is realizing that I was well-prepared for combating the kinds of gender ideologies that I would have faced with a daughter, encouraging her to be adventurous and letting her take risks and ensuring that she knew that her value was not connected to her looks etc etc etc. The whole “girls can like trucks, too” thing, and “be a strong young woman” thing was an easy one, relatively speaking. I find that in many ways the reverse is more difficult – a little boy breaking the gender boundaries and behaving/dressing in ways that are coded “feminine” is critiqued VERY strongly, and by almost everyone. I think it relates to the idea of masculine being ‘neutral’ and even positive, associated with ‘strength’ and success and whatnot, so socially speaking, a little girls who leans in that direction is seen as more okay (as long as she sometimes has some frill and pink-ishness and whatever as well, I think) than, say, a little boy who wants to wear something frilly and pink even once.

    Man, now that I’ve started, I can’t stop. One more thought – I notice the gender reinforcement happening in interesting ways, so that every time our munchkin does something coded as boy-behaviour (like having lots of energy) it’s because he’s a boy, but every time he does something coded as girl-behaviour (like LOVING shoes) it’s just a kid thing (whereas my friend’s girl-toddler, who also loves shoes, is foreshadowing a life of credit-card-shopaholic-womanliness).

  10. A'Llyn
    Posted 21 December 2012 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    I read that people start unconsciously speaking and thinking differently about the baby as soon as they know whether its a boy or a girl, even months before birth. I didn’t want to start gendering my child that soon, so I didn’t find out the sex. I also found I enjoyed the sense of potential in not knowing–the fluidity in the perceived identity when you can’t pin any stereotyped gender ideas on someone, even unwittingly.

    Despite how much I liked the uncertainty, I started calling him ‘boy’ almost immediately after he was born, which has kind of stuck (to the point where I need to cut back, or he’s going to think that’s his name). “Time to change your diaper, boy,” “How’s my wee boy?” etc. I think it was just that the name we chose for him still felt a little awkward at first, before it really fit, and ‘baby’ seemed impersonal, so ‘boy’ was an intermediate choice. (And somehow less impersonal than ‘baby,’ I guess because at least it was slightly more specific?)

    Because we didn’t know, we got a lot of green and yellow baby clothes at my shower: apparently those are the approved gender-neutral colors. I like green and yellow fine, and would be happy to have him wear them indefinitely, but it’s hard to find gender-neutral clothes after a certain age. It’s as if they make them up to about 6 months, because you could be buying ahead, but after that you’re assumed to know the child’s sex and be very interested in making it clear to everyone.

    Plus, while I would go out of my way to look for more neutral colors and designs if I were shopping for him, we haven’t actually bought any of his clothes yet, what with gifts and hand-me-downs (all very welcome), and these have been pretty universally gendered ‘boy’. Trucks, sport-related designs, reds and blues.

    It’s of no real concern to me if people mistake him for a girl (I took a picture of him once wrapped in a pink towel!), and he certainly doesn’t care yet, although I’m sure he may come to. It’s weird how bad people seem to feel if they get it wrong, though.

    I’m not going to try to raise him completely outside of gender norms or anything, because he has to live in human culture (so we’ll probably give him a boy haircut–at least until he’s old enough to tell us how he wants his hair to look), but in my ideal future, he would know there’s nothing wrong with being a girl (or a boy) and that it’s not an insult to be compared to or mistaken for one.

    I’m sure we’ll face more questions about this as he grows, and I am concerned about the whole “girl is an insult,” “boys can’t do that,” “that’s not a boy color” that he’ll face (and probably embrace, at least for a while, as he sorts things into categories) as he gets older, but we’ll feel our way as we go.

  11. Tertia
    Posted 23 December 2012 at 11:22 PM | Permalink

    When I was growing up my mom never put me in dresses or gave me anything girly, and she herself never wore makeup, “did” her hair, or wore dresses. So I struggled a bit when I wanted to start doing typically feminine things to fit in with the other junior high girls. I understand my mothers rebellion against the expectations of women in soceity, but at the same time it sort of taught me to think that anything feminine was objectively bad.

    Since having my daughter I have struggled a bit with how to approach gender expectations and roles with her. At first when she was a newborn we put her in very gender-neutral clothing, but I realized that “gender-neutral” really isn’t, it leans very much towards “boy” and I don’t want to be anti-feminine. And now that she is older (18 months) clothing is so gendered its basically impossible to find “neutral” items anyhow. I dress her girly, but practically, and not just in pink and ruffles and bows.

    The clothing and toy sections absolutely infuriate me. There is the PINK ailse and the BLUE aisle. Hello, there are other colors in the spectrum! Grr. And every time I am in the toy section of a store I hear a parent tell their young boy “Oh no you don’t want that, that toy is for girls.” And it makes me want to go start a fightfight.

    I never cared when people thought my daughter was a boy, and I don’t usually correct them beyond calling her “her”. But even with that, I know I am projecting that gender pronoun onto her and at some point that might not be what she wants. As soon as she is old enough to decide I will be happy to let her chose her own toys, clothing, and hairstyle.

    What I find particularly frustrating is with friends who have little boys about the same age as my daughter. When they climb on things or make messes, it is because they are “all boy.” Wtf does that even mean? Besides, my daughter does the same things. Or to excuse typical toddler behavior they will say things like “Well they will make messes, they are little boys so you just have to laugh it off.” Ummm… so you wouldn’t laugh it off if it was a little girl? It really frustrates me when people just spit out phrases like that like they are somehow cute, even though they don’t make any sense and really aren’t helpful to anyone.

    My father in law also is very frustrating since he insists that by the age of 3 she will know all of the Dinsey princesses and demand to be dressed in all pink. She very well might, but so far she has yet to even see a Disney movie. And there will be nothing terrible about it if she does decide that she wants head-to-toe pink, but it is terrible that it is treated as a biological inevitability.

    (If you want to use anything I say, please just refer to me by my first name. My daughter is 18 months.)

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