–post by Synapse-
Innate biases. Confidence issues. Concern about being “smart”…. and pretty much everything that could happen during those teenage years.
Let’s just say, I’m a bit nervous about having a baby girl.
Yes, yes, I know. She already has a head start given that her mother is the example of “scientist” in the parental unit.
But what I can control and what I can’t control is already a frustrating consideration. This tiny stranger is going to be born in the next few days and my biggest concern revolves around her confidence as a woman. It seems crazy but I have this overwhelming concern that I need to get off on the right foot – what if confidence issues begin the moment a baby is born with girl parts and dressed in pink?
As a new not-yet parent, my theory has always been that a link exists between innate biases and confidence issues. Humans instinctively treat girls differently than boys.
How much more often are boys allowed to attempt to scale a fence, fall and learn from this mistake? How much more often do we jump to the aid of a little girl struggling with something? Or worse, ask a little boy to help her. And are these the situations that set the stage for whether or not a girl/woman boldly goes out to conquer her dreams or slinks into the corner and waits for someone to help her or worse, opportunity to pass her by.
I have had the conversation with my husband about treating this baby girl exactly as he would treat a baby boy – let her explore, let her scrape her knees, let her fall off ladders (very very short ones, of course, and only onto very soft surfaces), let her try to figure something out on her own before assisting, let her help out the boys. He gets it. He thinks I am a bit obsessed and borderline crazy about the issue, but he gets it.
But what about everyone else in this world that may come into contact with my baby girl? Is the baby in pink treated differently than the baby in blue and does this actually matter later in life?
My grandparents have already declared that she is going to be the “prettiest baby” and to that I replied “and SMART!”
I have tried to limit the amount of pink in her wardrobe and replaced it with yellow, green, blue and one really awesome camouflage onesie, but the grandparents are pretty stoked about having a little girl grandbaby so she will still be rocking quite a bit of pink.
And then comes the world of branding and gender specific toys. I am not going to force her to play with trucks over dolls but why WHY does even the simplest toy have to have be gender specific or have some kind trademarked character associated with it?
I am not advocating for a culture shift towards complete gender neutrality. This experiment is actually going on in Sweden and came up in conversation with a Swedish friend when I was going off about this issue. In Sweden, they traditionally use the feminine pronoun “hon” and the masculine pronoun is “han”. Recently, they introduced a new gender neutral pronoun – “hen”. And yes, this is actually used in Sweden. My friend’s young nieces use it naturally because this is what they hear in school.
So what are my options?
Do I start building a confidence bubble for my baby girl now?
Or just find my own confidence that she will be able to see through all the bullshit and find her own way, raise her hand in math class, and proudly reply to her grandparents “and SMART!” when they tell her how pretty she is?