Wednesday, May 25, 2011

‘Parents Hiding the Gender of Their Child: Good Luck With That’

A well-meaning effort to separate a child from gender identity will backfire according to today’s guest columnist Jeremy Greenberg

“A couple in Toronto have decided to take a novel approach to tweaking their newborn child: They’ve decided to keep the child’s gender a secret. They named him/her/it Storm--because nothing connotes androgyny like being named after an American Gladiator

I applaud this unique approach to screwing up a child. While most parents might drink, or neglect the kid, these forward thinking parents have decided to treat their living flesh as though he/she is their sociology final at Wellesley. There are six billion people in the world, surely one can be treated like a guinea pig, right? Who wants to have a boy or girl when you can give birth to a symbol?

I’m a very competitive parent. So if I have any more kids, not only am I not going to tell people the child’s gender, I’m also going to refrain from mentioning the newborn’s species. I don’t want my child trapped in society’s expectations for how certain species should behave. If my child wants to defecate in the yard like a dog, or sleep in a tree, he/she should have that right. And I’m certainly not going to teach my kids a language. Grammar is mind control. If my child wants to just grunt, or bark out a series of random words, that’s his/her prerogative. And I certainly wouldn’t potty train my child. Peeing in a toilet is the ultimate act of conformity. I don’t want my kids oppressed by the system, even if it’s a plumbing system.

On a less sarcastic note, I do feel like these parents' hearts are in the right place. Although I ridicule their desire to hide their child’s identity (who totally looks like a boy, by the way, judging by this picture), these parents are actually being bold. In theory, they are right. You don’t want a boy who has a feminine side to feel like he can’t wear a dress, have dolls, and eventually ovulate. Nor do you want a girl who has a masculine side to feel denied her opportunity to break stuff, play with guns, and pee her name in the snow (though she’ll admittedly need some serious hula-hoop skills).  But it’s just too weird to burden a child with being the vanguard of societal evolution.

Sadly, this experiment in gender neutrality will end up having the reverse effect on the child. Because Storm is being denied his/her natural opportunity to develop a gender identity, he/she’ll grow up to either be the manliest man, or the girliest girl. This well-meaning effort to tear down gender walls is just going to build them higher. But I will say that the parents were appropriate in naming the child Storm—because there’s no way this can’t be a disaster.”


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