If you are reading this, there’s a new baby in the world. This feminist has been gestating another little feminist for a while now, and you can take this as an official announcement to the blogosphere that we can add one more to the numbers. While generally I’ve made an effort to spare you all the musings of a pregnant mama-to-be, I thought that a few reflections on my experience of gender assignment during pregnancy might be the perfect way to announce my maternity leave.
I will say that I didn’t expect to hear the question “So do you know what you’re having?” during my first trimester. My most common response was that I felt quite confident it would be a baby. As time went on, the question seemed a little more urgent. I got a lot of pressure, prodding, and pleas to find out the sex at our midway ultrasound. We stuck to our inclinations though, and our mystery baby’s secret gender identity was maintained by a panicked papa who greeted the ultrasound tech with, “we don’t want to know what we’re having!” when she entered the room.
Apparently it’s “impossible” to get baby clothes if you don’t know what the gender of the baby is! I scoffed at first, until my very first trip to a big box baby store. It really is nearly impossible and that shopping trip was the most terrifying consumer experience of my adult life. There is a single rack of newborn clothes in yellow. After that, you are sectioned off by pink or blue…ballet slippers or toy trucks. Needless to say, I have not been back since.
Interestingly, not knowing the gender of our baby led to a fascinating experience throughout my pregnancy. People started volunteering their guesses, citing all sorts of reasons for why they were sure it was a…
These inclinations ranged from “feelings” or just “willing it” to long weeks of observation and consideration based on the most common wives’ tales . Some of these wives tales are really quite sexist. Take, for example, #12:
It's a girl if you get acne due to the increased levels of the female charged hormones. A girl steals her mother’s beauty. (from the “Empowered Mama ” web community)
Beware aging women! The next, younger, sleeker model is out to steal your beauty! Truly, it’s enthralling to hear about all the ways we can gender a baby bump! I got so interested, that I started keeping track. I’ve included some pictures of the charts I’m keeping with people’s votes (my dental hygienist even chimed in!) and their reasons. For your reference, the “girl” vote was the clear winner, with a ratio of 25:10. But in this brave new world of gender-inclusive language, growing buy-in for the rights of trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people, and daily reminders to break out of the gender box, this mama wonders how important her bump’s gender really is?
For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be pondering this question while getting to know my newest love affair. These deep questions will (maybe?) arise in the midst of diaper drama and feeding fiascos, so don’t expect any clear answers when I return. Until that time, I’m turning over the reins for this blog to the capable skills of Jill Laster, our Language Access Specialist. Her wit is quick, and her questions are hard, so be prepared for some growth while I’m gone!