Thursday, May 10, 2007

William wants a doll

I'm intimidated at the thought of raising a boy. I'm an only child--my main frame of reference/resource for child-rearing is Free to Be, You and Me. Which is great, and it did great things for me, but I'm not sure "William wants a doll" and "It's alright to cry" are going to balance against the messages the world sends boys.

I'm not saying the world doesn't send mixed up messages to girls. I'm just personally familiar with many of those messages.

If you had told me when I was a young feminist (0-18 yrs old) that patriarchal society has just as much of a negative impact on men as it does on women, I would have been deeply offended. This is corny, but in a college journalism course we watched a video called "The Tough Guise" about the dangerous myth of masculinity and its impact on men and boys ... and it opened my eyes. And freaked me out on a whole new level at the hypothetical thought of raising a boy--I'd always imagined having a girl, but this video only heightened that aspiration.

All of this came out in a less-than-graceful way over lunchtime chatting at the refectory last week. A friend asked if we want a boy or a girl, and I responded: "We're planning on a boy, but we're hoping for a girl." Another friend called me out on this and another friend assured me that it's OK to hope for a girl baby, knowing that Sean and I are going to love our baby. Period.

So here I am, a slightly more mature feminist who really does believe that Free to Be stuff. I don't want to turn around and dump a bunch of my own sex/gender issues on my child. I want to go into this mysterious process with an open mind and an open heart (wait a second ...) and really be ready with the love, no qualifications. Frankly, I should be intimidated no matter what.

So when I imagine hypothetical future baby these days, I often imagine a boy. He has a name, which I've promised Sean I will not disclose, but the name does help me imagine the kid. It's exciting. Here's the thing ...

Is it OK if I'm still kinda hoping for a girl? I'm genuinely asking ... as a fine YDS graduate once said in a sermon, "I'm not allergic to your Amens" ... or in this case, comments.

2 comments:

Lisa Marie said...

It's ok, Annie. You're ok, I'm ok, your baby will be ok. Promise.

Josh Moon said...

Please, you can't name him "Aqualung." That's too weird.

I think a lot about gender issues with Beckett. Niki and I joke about his sexuality. The idea he might be gay (a real possibility) doesn't phase me much but seems to make Niki uncomfortable. I, of course, exploit this.

It's obvious, but there is something much more comforting about raising a child of your own gender. I probably would be a very different parent if Beckett were a girl. Less comfortable, less committed, less involved. Sad, but true.
There is this weird element of deep personal responsibility for "my son."

I'm rambling and talking out my behind, but my cognitively unexplored hunch is that while both sexes have their gender identities under assault, the prime origin is different. For girls, I believe it's still an outward thing. They see society, other women, idiot men, and this shapes them. For boys, I bet it is still primarily an issue of family environment (what kind of pressure does dad put on him to 'be a man', etc.). Whatever external forces effect developing boys are less strong or more sublimated. Of course, there's crossover - girls and their moms, stuff like that.

Whoa.

I've always said, Beckett can have sex with whatever gender he wants, design home interiors, cut hair, it doesn't matter, but I really hope he enjoys watching sports with me.

But it's all awesome. I can not communicate the general awesomeness of parenthood.