Monday, September 15, 2008

Genderizing Baby

I've been thinking a lot lately about what little Conan will be like. I'm sure every mom-to-be does this, but as usual I have probably gone further than most and really begun to over-analyze things, especially in terms of gender role expectations. One of the things I have really noticed is the gender-specific nature of baby items - clothes, nursery decorations, equipment, you name it - they make one version for girls and one for boys. This post really caught my attention. It's very true, as the author says - baby clothes are very genderized, and it's a lot more subtle than just pink vs blue, bows vs buckles. Girls get butterflies, flowers and kittens; boys get firetrucks, puppies, and dinosaurs.

I think it's pretty telling that I felt relieved to find out that Conan was a boy - not because I wouldn't want a girl - but because it meant that I woulnd't have to struggle with getting all those stereotypically girly clothes, especially when it came to gifts from friends & family. If I had a girl, I'd want to dress her in the "boy" clothes, because they have so much more variety. When exactly did cartoon fish & dinosaurs & puppies become masculine, anyway? Girls can be firefighters, backhoe operators, or fishermen too, right? And find me the toddler of either sex who doesn't deserve to wear a shirt that says "mommy's little monster".

Personality trait predictions are also interesting. I can't deny that little Conan is a very active baby, at least at this stage. And yes, we are giving him a name with some strong masculine connotations. But his womb activity level could just as well lead him to be a dancer or a gymnast as a football star or a boxer. Right? He could be an introverted bookworm, into astronomy and science and music as easily as a rambunctious tree-climbing knee-skinning frog-pocketing "boy's boy" with a fixation on tools and cars. And yet people always predict the latter... not that there's anything wrong with being a "boy's boy", but just once I kind of wish someone would say, "Oh, he's going to be such a sensitive and thoughtful little guy" or "Maybe he'll grow up to be a famous chef" or "You must be looking forward to watching him perform in school plays" or something like that. It would be so... refreshing. :)


Laura said...

The genderized stuff drives me nuts too! I tried so hard to find gender-neutral nursery bedding etc. and couldn't find anything I really liked. I decided to do a backyard animal/garden theme inspired by some brightly colored fabric I found. Of course the marketers would tell me that frogs and bugs (except ladybugs and butterflies) are for boys and that flowers are for girls.

For clothing, I found an adorable brown fleece outfit and was annoyed to find it has "handsome" stitched on it. I ended up having a boy (he's a week old today), so he can wear the "handsome" outfit.

Oh, and by the way, my husband lurks here all the time. He's envious of all of the "systems" parts of your house and frequently uses your blog as a reference when we need things like water heaters etc.

Addie said...

Congratulations on your little guy's birth! :)

And welcome Laura's husband, I'm glad you find the house technical aspect useful. Thats actually why I started this blog - tho we seem to be experiencing some topic shift these days... :)