A Swedish couple have sparked a lively debate by refusing to reveal the gender of their two and a half year old child, "Pop" (not the child's real name). Pop's mother explained "We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset…It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead."
I must admit that I have a long-held interest in the restrictions and implications of gender stereotypes and I have often wondered what it would be like to watch a child grow up free of these expectations, however, I have also been skeptical as to whether this could ever be possible. Sure you could dress your little boy in pink occasionally or encourage your young daughter to climb trees and play with toy cars, however, once your child leaves their home or garden how can you hope to change the way they are treated by others? How can you change the way the outside world approaches your child? You can read a paper on this subject by Dr. Susan D. Witt here.
This problem reminds me of my own earlier years when my mother refused to feed me chocolate, with the good intention that I would learn to enjoy healthy food. However, on a visit to my grandparents she found them supplying me with a feast of sweets and chocolate and I am now firmly a chocoholic. I can’t help but wonder if Pop will adopt a similar strategy in later life, whereby denial and restriction eventually lead to an extreme position, in this case perhaps as an alpha male or alpha female.
Despite these difficulties I admire the enthusiasm and conviction of these parents. I believe they honestly want to raise a child in a manner that is not chosen by society but by the child themselves and that is commendable. I also admire the energy that these parents will require in their opposition to such an ancient system of definition. For another article about Baby "Pop", click here.
Girl Museum Inc.