Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Having a baby is a good way to examine the question of sexual identity. Cultural conditioning, nurture or nature...you can explore all of this in depth beginning with the simple act of giving birth.

That's because all babies are born either a boy or girl. Except, of course, hermaphrodites. And those babies have a whole other set of things to deal with. Uh-oh....here comes a tangent: When I was preggo with Baby Boss, my son somewhere heard the word "hermaphrodite" and upon learning what it meant immediately decided that he hoped the baby would be one. I was like, huh? But he thought, sure...best of both worlds, right?

Yeah. Or the worst. Depends how you look at your glass of milk, I guess.

So anyway, when I was pregnant with my son I was in the bloom of my "let's change the world" feminism and was determined that The Boy would grow up with no pressure or conditioning that might lead him to adopt a "traditional boy" role. In other words, I didn't want him to grow up unconsciously believing that all boys wear blue, like dump trucks and play baseball or that all girls wear pink, make cookies and play with barbie.

So I told our friends and family to please, please, please try to buy us gender-neutral clothing and toys. I didn't want our baby color-coded. I didn't want our baby to grow up assuming he/she was supposed to play with whatever our culture said she/he should play with.

I eschewed the ultrasound sex prediction for many reasons (not the least of which was we used a lay midwife who didn't do ultrasounds), but one of the main ones was so that our relatives wouldn't all go out en masse to Target or Mall-Wart or the nearest mall and paint our world in pink or blue. It made them mad as hell. And frustrated. I mean, really, if you can't buy a baby pink or blue, what are you left with? Well, I'll tell you: Lots of beige and yellow, that's what. And we got a lot of that...OR people waited until the baby was born, THEN ran to Target and Mall-Wart and the nearest mall and went blue-crazy.

Funny thing is, despite my earnest intentions -- and I did stick to my guns (ha ha...so to speak) as much as possible with all that stuff -- my son started being interested in cars and tractors almost as soon as he could hold his little head up and look around. And although I never bought him -- or allowed into the house -- a single toy weapon, he picked up sticks or whatever was handy and began his own rudimentary war games utterly uncoached.

Humph. So much for that. True, he had a thrift store doll named "Blue" that he carried around in a sling, and he loved to play dress up with my old clubbing dresses and a toy tiara. But really, in so many ways, he was just your stereotypical down and dirty, dump truck lovin' American boy.

So now we have a girl and here we go again. I am loathe to let her grow up thinking she has to be thin and sweet and adorable to be happy and loved. So I want to shelter her from as much harmful pop culture influence as I can. And goddess help me, I want to keep her from drowning in pink.

It's truly amazing: She isn't even old enough to have a color preference, but thanks to a bunch of really sweet and very generous family members and friends and even acquaintances, this baby has so much pink stuff that it looks like a pepto-bismol bottle exploded in our house. And don't get me wrong, I am truly and deeply grateful for all the things people have given our Baby Boss. Lord knows we can't afford to buy all those clothes and things. But I am truly fascinated: Pink. Wow.

See, I never liked pink when I was a kid. I played barbie as much as the next little girl of the 70's, but when it came to clothes and room decor, I was more eclectic. I liked sporty-looking stuff, ironically, despite the fact that any respectable tomboy could have kicked my wimpy little bookworm butt. I do remember when I was very, very small wishing I could have a big, poofy ball gown like Cinderella's. And once "Little House on the Prairie" hit the small screen, I was wild about long dresses. But mostly I was into t-shirts and blue jeans. And my favorite color from my earliest memories was always, get this -- blue!

So it is fascinating and bit overwhelming the amount of pink that has entered my life. And I have to admit, a lot of this stuff is just so freakin' adorable. Really. Pink roses, pink ponies, pink teddy bears, you name it.

But as Scott said the other day, Baby Boss seems like such a take-charge, no-shit little person. She seems sort of serious, despite her big toothless smiles and giggles. She runs a tight ship around here. It almost seems like we're mocking her sometimes when we dress her up in her pink onesie, pink diaper cover, pink leggings, pink fluffy jacket and pink lacy socks with (oddest of all for a baby still months from walking) pink mary jane shoes. I mean, good grief, the kid has absolutely no say in this stuff -- she's totally at our fashion mercy.

Ah, well. Soon enough she'll be old enough to choose for herself. And just watch. She'll probably want to wear...PINK!

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