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Gender neutral family avoiding gender stereotypes… Must be nice

Boy or girl? No one knows except the baby’s parents, and their two sons. This story of a genderless baby has made headlines the past few weeks across the world.

I’m sure it’s not the first time a parent has decided to leave their child’s gender unknown to friends and family, but for some reason this is a hot topic right now in mommyland.

One of the first things I thought when I first heard of the “gender neutral” philosophy was “these parents must have all boys.” Let’s be honest. You’ve seen me and how I dress Lil’ J. There’s no way I could have stuck to dressing her up in neutral clothes and skipped the dresses and bows. It’s not to say I think she shouldn’t wear pants or clothes in colors other than pink, but it’s just my preference (not the pink, the dresses). And her room is like an explosion of pink. But what else would you expect when that’s my favorite color? I’ve always been a girlie girl and I wanted to experience that with my daughter.

If I had had a son I wouldn’t have stuck with blues and greens, but I probably wouldn’t have decorated his nursery in pink frills; but I will admit, if I had had son after son and was still longing for a girl, I’d be totally cool with painting my boy’s toenails and get them some dolls if that’s what they wanted, and called us a gender neutral family.

I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works, and that there’s more thought behind this lifestyle rather than the color and style of their wardrobe and what kinds of toys they play with. So I’m trying to see where this Canadian family is coming from.

38-year-old Kathy Witterick and David Stoker have only allowed their midwives and two sons to know the gender of their third child Storm.

“The idea that the whole world must know our baby’s sex strikes me as unhealthy and voyeuristic,” Witterick said in a letter to ABC News.

Personally, I don’t know who this lady or her kid is. I don’t care if she wants to share or not nor do I care if her child has a penis or a vagina. I also HIGHLY doubt the whole world really cares, in fact, I don’t think it matters. To anyone. I think people are just curious. For heaven’s sakes, sue us for asking a common question about a cute baby, sheesh.

I mean really… Do they believe strangers are dying to know what their child is so they can buy the baby a frilly tutu if it’s a girl and plan her future career as a homemaker? Or if it’s a boy so they can say how great he’ll be at sports and how manly the little-tike looks?

My guess is this mom is doing this partly to raise attention to her “gender neutral” beliefs and to show that girls and boys don’t have to fall into certain gender roles yada yada yada. But deep down I truly believe there is a bigger motivation here. Motivation to do what she thinks is best for her baby. Trying to protect her baby from something she sees wrong in the world. And I can’t really blame her for that. In fact, I’m a little jealous it’s that easy for her.

I don’t know if I witness gender stereotypes in the same light she does. I don’t think boys or girls have to act a certain way. Maybe I’m missed this drama when I was in school because any stereotypes targeted toward my gender were overshadowed by a whole other issue–Racial stereotypes.

Wouldn’t it have been nice for my mother to have decided before my birth that no one would know my race. So no one could judge me right off the bat for the way I looked and decide whether or not they were going to like me based on the color of my skin.

Yep. That’s me.

So no one else could say I was ugly because I was different. Or that they didn’t want to be my friend because I was black.

If my mom could have shielded my race from the world maybe I wouldn’t have had to deal with the questions about why I “talk white.” Or why I didn’t listen to rap. I mean, all black people like rap right? And wear weave?

Maybe if no one knew I was black I wouldn’t have been told how I was supposed to talk and supposed act because black people are suppose to talk and act the same. Every single one of us.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if only she, my doctor and siblings new my identity, and I could reveal to the world, when I understood, and when I was ready to share my racial genetic make up?

But no. Its not that easy. I, like everyone else in the world had to learn through experience how tough the world can be. How crude and stupid some stereotypes are, and how you cant let them define you.

And that’s ok. Because it made me who I am today…

Read the rest of my post today on MyBrownBaby.


Jenna says:

GREAT post.

Lindsey says:

AWESOME post! 🙂

That couple probably got really tired of people wanting to know if they were going to have “another boy” and this is their way of getting even, lol. People look at your large stomach and they just want to know about that baby. Hey, I want to know, too… with both my kids I’ve been excited about that big gender-revealing ultrasound. It didn’t make a difference in any way, but it was fun to find out. 🙂

Elana says:

So true!! My twins have no clue, nor do they care, if they’re playing with “girl toys” or “boy toys”. They share…everything. My son will go around wearing a frilly boa and my daughter would have no problem playing with trucks. Neither of them really likes dolls, though, but they both want to play with the baby all the flipping time. lol Anyway, who cares!! It’s so pointless to try to shield your child from his/her own gender. It’s stupid, too…

Thanks Jenna!

Lindsey I think you are absolutely right! I bet they did get tired of that. Obviously it’s not all about the sex of the baby but it’s a friendly question to ask a stranger or friend. It’s fun to find out then it’s old news.

Shaky Mommy says:

Very good post – enjoyed reading this!

Monkey Sews says:

I could go on a complete rant on this. First of all, I thought (naively) that I could raise my boys to not feel like they couldn’t play with dolls or put make-up on with mommy. Then at 2 my oldest stood in Walmart with his arms crossed at the end of an aisle in the toy section and said “I am not going down the Barbie aisle, it’s for girls.” I was shocked! My husbands son’s first sentence was “I hate pink.”
Moral of the story? We don’t get to pick. We are all born with unique qualities. Yes, some things are learned. Racism being one.
On the racism note… I worked with my friend Kimberly who is black and from Calabasas, CA. She goes through the same stereotypes that you grew up with.She had some fun with it on the phone since she didn’t “sound black”….I feel your pain. I wish we could say that the people of the world had grown enough that racism was a thing of the past. 🙁

I agree that these parents are probably trying to do what they think is best for their child. I don’t think they are trying to hide his/her gender from the baby itself, just from other people’s judgments of that gender.

It’s true that many other things that make people different from one another are not so easily hidden.

People who get upset about gender “Stereotypes” have always bugged me. I believe God made boys and girls different for a reason and we are BORN with those differences, they are a part of us, a part of our identity. I don’t prefer dresses and dolls and pink because that’s all I was offered as a child, I prefer them because they are feminine and girly, like me! I don’t think there is anything wrong with a person asking which sex your baby is because your gender DOES help define who you are, I don’t understand why some people think that is so wrong.

who cares?! Well besides close friends and family of course but there are a lot of reasons behind that. Not just the should we buy him a truck or her a tutu. I think it’s more so, what do we call him/her… “it”?! You can’t say, “aww she’s so gorgeous” or anything like that.
I personally think it’s weird but I also think it won’t last long. the kid, who I definitely think is 100% boy (if you’ve see the pictures) will more then likly start to do “boy” things like want to play with trucks and get muddy and of course his body will tell the whole world what he is in a few years.

Even though they aren’t talking to media anymore, I think they also did this to stir things up. It’s definitely not going to change the way humans think about gender and everyone wanting to know what someone else is giving birth to. If they thought no one would care is crazy on their part. Either way, they got what they wanted though because now all the attention is on them so they got their 5 minutes of fame.

They act like THE WORLD knows them and is soooo curious about her kids, like she’s Britney Spears or something.

this is a great post!! funny how I thought the same thing :”they must have another boy” when i heard this story. I think you hit the nail right on the head with this post. brilliant.

I love what you wrote 🙂

The Canadian family sounds a little hippy-dippy. Not any way I would raise my family. I agree with you, people aren’t obsessed, they are just curious.

Just like I’ve always believed it’s a fantasy to live in a “raceless” world I believe the same for gender. Buck up world, you are a boy or a girl, black, white, mixed… I think people attempt to disregard in hopes of fixing something, but race and gender are THERE. They are part of our identity in this world and there’s no denying.

(rant over)

Jenn, you were the cutest little girl!

melifaif says:

Bravo, encore and all that jazz. I do believe THIS is my favorite post you have ever written. So very well written. Point taken. I pink puffy heart love you. 😉

p.s. I get my Sumo’s Sweet Dress and headband this week!!!! Yay….and thanks to you. I let Summer know…

ashalily says:

I personally feel that the family is doing a disservice to all their child. I dont think its right for parents to force their children to keep secrets, that can be burdenful. Also, it just comes down to, you are who you are. If you ask people who are transgendered being gender specific is extremely important to them. I am proud to be a woman and I couldnt imagine having to hide that from anyone, whether or not people choose to treat me different is up to them and its not my problem. To me it would be the same if they had adopted a child and refused to tell people the the race of the child.

Great minds think a like! I read an article about this family in USA Today, and decided to blog about it too last week. It definitely sparked a debate. It really made me think, is withholding your child’s gender possible? I enjoyed reading your take on it. Thanks!:)

http://weatheranchormama.blogspot.com/2011/05/would-you-raise-your-child-sexless.html

Kyla's Mommy says:

Wow! This post left me speechless. I love it! I wish this ‘genderless mom’ would read this post. I honestly can’t believe how rude and cruel people can be. This post will forever be in my head. I can’t even say I know what it was like, because I don’t have a clue. I’m white and I grew up in a very white community with one colored family in my town. I know have a glimpse of what they went through and I thank you for that!

Flat Nipples says:

I love your perspective, and am glad you share it with the world!

Marcy says:

I dunno, I think people *are* a little obsessed… there wouldn’t be this much attention otherwise. ; )

Great post. It’s a shame that kids start getting bombarded with these stereotypes and even prejudice/hatred so young. We’ve got a long way to go still…

karajean says:

I really like your take on this “issue”. And when I read the story on CNN I, like you, thought “Who Cares?!” It’s nice to read your point of view, however. I never would have thought about it in terms of race.

Dena says:

Thanks for your honesty. We must know difference to confirm people as they are; to “hide” suggests shame and minimizes that gender or race do contribute to people’s identities. Not knowing does not necessarily mean that people will be nice. If we want people to treat others equally, then how and who decides how we’re to be the same? The assumptions perpetuate the problem. However, if we find common experience — i.e., mortality, suffering — perhaps we can show compassion in its truest sense: “To suffer with.” That’s Jesus’ example (Phil. 2). Yet he also became human when he was also divine; he humbled himself, but he did not nullify, erase, or hide either identity.

stcy87 says:

I don’t know if you’re interested in more little advice quotes for your pictures, but here are some that I think would be great:

-I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck
-Style is to see beauty in modesty
-To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything
-But if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself
-It is possible to be different and still be all right
-Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be
-Follow your inner moonlight, don’t hide the madness
-Plunge boldly into the thick of life
-First we have to believe, then we beleieve
-It is always possible to approach a goal be a detour
-It’s a very short trip. Well alive, live!
-The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall
-Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding, the third.
-If you would be loved, love and be loveable

I hope you like a few!

Mrs. K says:

I think it’s not right (for me that is) but if she wants to do that then that’s her business. I just don’t see why it’s international news. Cute pic of you as a kid 🙂

I think it’s news because the mom wants it to be news. And once one outlet did the story and saw the buzz and drama it creates amongst moms other outlets wanted to jump in on it too.

She didn’t have to respond to interview requests but she obviously wants to shed light on this issue.

Natalia says:

My opinion (for what it’s worth) is that the mom’s heart is in the right place. I just hope it doesn’t cause all sorts of other negative side effects she may not be considering. Sure, it is easy to shelter your child from gender stereotypes if you are the type of person who will home school your child and never allow social interaction between your child and other “worldly” children. But that is not the world most of us live in. And I hope the child doesn’t grow up resenting his/her parents for doing this to him/her.

Monique says:

Love this post. Experienced the same issues you did as a child. How I talk. How I look. If I’m trying to be better than this person or that person.

But, I do need to tell you that YES, STRANGERS believe they have the right to know about your child. I chose not to know the sex of my babies before they were born. I mean – who cares? Will I love them differently? Why do I need to know in advance?

I was told that people wouldn’t know what to buy me. I told them not to buy me anything if it was suck a difficult decision. People bullied me and told me I was stupid because I chose not to find out. Really? Seriously? They were real serious about it. I felt like I was doing something HORRIBLE for not finding out.

But because I don’t believe in stereotypes my girls wore everybody’s clothes – boys, girls, whomever’s as long as it fit. And you know what – people were appalled again that I would dare dress them in clothes that “clearly” weren’t made for girls.

I think it’s the adults that have the problem. Not the kids.

Jennifer says:

I think the child is a boy. How could you not want to dress your little girl up in cute clothes? There are so many girly options. LOL

Seriously though. I feel that that the parents are not doing this for the child at all, but for their own agenda. By not wanting people to know and talking with media it has made everyone curious now when otherwise no one (except friends/family) would I have even known about this or cared. When will the gender come out? Will the child just eventually tell people. I teach children (500+) and unfortunately I can foresee the child being picked on and ridiculed more because of this(unless it is out by Elementary school). I love your point of view on the whole situation. Kids get picked on all the time for various things. I wish this weren’t the case! As a parent, I’d hate to be the reason my child is being picked on. It just seems like it will be confusing for the child when asked at school or when trying to figure out which bathroom to use, etc.

I just hope the child isn’t being used and that this all blows over when it will really affect him/her.

Jessica says:

I enjoyed this post and your honesty in offering an often forgotten or ignored reality of ugly stereotypes. I tried gender neutral parenting, but I failed. I haven’t consciously made a decision to practice racial neutral parenting because I am too conscious I guess of it’s limitations in today’s society. Instead, I want to teach my daughter about difference and teach her to love differences in herself and in others.

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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