Swedish Parents Raise Child Gender-Free
Here’s an interesting story. Two parents have kept their child’s sex a secret from all but a tiny handful of people. They are leaving it up to the child as to when s/he decides to reveal hir sex to others. (Thanks to Rachel and Rebecca for the heads up.)
Pop’s parents, both 24, made a decision when their baby was born to keep Pop’s sex a secret. Aside from a select few – those who have changed the child’s diaper – nobody knows Pop’s gender; if anyone enquires, Pop’s parents simply say they don’t disclose this information.
In an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in March, the parents were quoted saying their decision was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction.
“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother said. “It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”
The child’s parents said so long as they keep Pop’s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female.
Pop’s wardrobe includes everything from dresses to trousers and Pop’s hairstyle changes on a regular basis. And Pop usually decides how Pop is going to dress on a given morning.
Although Pop knows that there are physical differences between a boy and a girl, Pop’s parents never use personal pronouns when referring to the child – they just say Pop.
“I believe that the self-confidence and personality that Pop has shaped will remain for a lifetime,” said Pop’s mother.
Given the way adults tend to slather children with stereotypical gender expectations from conception onward, I see this as a refreshing approach to parenting. Not everyone fits into the pink and blue shackles that so many folks take for granted. I think it would be wonderful to work toward a world in which children can simply grow to take advantage of whatever talents and qualities come naturally to them. Right now, this is clearly not happening. Gender stereotypes and their accompanying social expectations effectively serve to cut off bits and pieces of children’s personas in an effort to fit them into a pink and blue, cookie cutter world.
If you are looking for proof, all you have to do is walk into a Toys R Us, open your eyes, and see how the toys are extremely gender segregated. Every time I visit one of these establishments, I feel like coming back in the dead of night and firebombing the place. I feel like firebombing the entire corporation. Naturally, that course of action will not solve the problem because business practices such as these can not survive unless parents buy into gender stereotypes en masse. I place the blame squarely where it belongs: the average adult who has regular contact with children. Learn to challenge your assumptions, for your actions and your words might be helping to stunt the life of a child you know.