“Are You Having a Boy or Girl?”

When my son was 3 weeks old, I was approached by an elderly woman in the local supermarket. She looked at the child sleeping in the sling I was wearing and said “Oh he’s a boy. Know how I know? His shirt is blue.” I cringed. My response, “we put him in pink too, that’s my favourite colour,” was met with “pink? You’ll have him …” and she trailed off upon noticing that I was glaring at her.

My wife and I found out we were having a boy at our first (and only) ultrasound. We decided to tell immediate family only, and keep everyone else in the dark. This was to curb the many gendered assumptions people make based solely on the sex of a baby. It also had a lot to do with the baby shower. If everyone knew we were having a boy, everything would have been blue, camouflage, covered in monster trucks, or words like “hero,” “stud,” or “chick magnet.” It is exactly this kind of gendered bullshit we want to avoid.

A soon as people know you’re having a girl or boy, they make all kinds of assumptions. Gendered expectations are so prevalent in our society, it’s almost subconscious. Blue is for boys, pink is for girls. Boys get Tonka trucks for Christmas, girls get Barbie. Boy clothes say “Daddy’s All Star,” girl clothes say “Perfect Princess.” Even Lego has entered the fray, selling pink and gray coloured kits for parents who apparently can’t handle the thought of little Janey building an X-Wing fighter, ’cause heaven forbid she play with a toy that isn’t pink.  Isn’t it all just a little bit silly? My favourite colour is pink, our 15-year-old wears pink from time-to-time, and our little guy is quite often dressed in what some might consider “girl clothes.” What’s the big deal? Don’t we tell our kids to be themselves? Just my opinion, but I think if we mean that, we should practice it and do away with gendered assumptions.

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