It’s a Boy! – Let the gendering begin

Baby Boy Announcement

We had our 20 week scan on the 22nd and were told by the technician that we are definitely having a wee little boy!

And somehow I feel like everyone who knows me already knew that. Brian swears I’ve been saying “he” and “him” to refer to the baby for months now, though I was doing so subconsciously. Everyone we tell responds with, “Yay!” which is quickly followed by, “That’s what I thought it was going to be.” And all the clothes and baby things we bought while in the US turned out to be teal of some kind, again something I did subconsciously.

However, I still maintain that this last one happened because I was consciously trying to be gender neutral and teal (NOT baby blue) is more gender neutral than pink. Which brings me to the meatier part of my post: gendering.

This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, so bear with me a moment. When we went to the ultrasound, we found out the sex of the baby, not the gender. Sex is biological, gender is a social construct. Gendering means assigning a gender (male vs female) to a person/child based on their biological sex. (This blog has a really good summary of what it means to gender a child, if you want more information.)

However, these things often get conflated because gendering starts soooo early. Literally, before a baby is even born. It’s the whole boy=blue, girl=pink, boy=cowboy, girl=ballerina thing. An example: I was trying to make the little banner to use for this post announcing the sex of the baby, and I had the hardest time making one that I felt would be exciting and informative to family and readers and was also gender neutral. So despite my best efforts, I ended up using blue and a mustache because… well I think because the cultural shorthand is so much easier. Blue=boy.

And that’s my worry, that it’s just easier to go along with stereotypical gendering. And I worry about finding ways to actively allow my tiny wee one to explore gender on his own. Because it’s so much more than just sometimes dressing him in pink or letting him play dress up with my dresses or keeping his hair long. It’s about what roles we, his parents, have around the house and how we reinforce stereotypes by example. It’s how other children will react to a boy that likes pink and princesses and still allowing that choice to remain open to him. It’s about consciously remaining open minded about what he plays with and the media he consumes and not falling into the typical, easy rut. It’s about teaching him that girls can be strong and boys can cry.

You always think that these lessons come later in life, but I’m starting to learn that they come right at the beginning.