Someone I know was pregnant. The baby was due near the end of the year. We were all doing the ‘guessing the sex of the baby’ thing and I asked her if she had any inclination. She said she didn’t but her husband felt sure that they were having, and I quote directly, “a little princess.”
“A Princess?” I wanted to say. “I didn’t realise you were of Royal lineage!”
But her whole Royal obsession didn’t end there. Her baby was due after the actual Royal baby and she was desperately worried that Wills and Kate would name their child the same name she’d painstakingly chosen for her future ruler. Why? Because then people would say they’d copied the Windsors!
I could see why she was concerned because any time she attends all those Royal gatherings, people might get the 2 babies mixed up!
But the icing on the cake came a few days later when someone asked her if she had a preference, and she said, and I quote directly again, “I’m not fussed because you can get cute clothes for both sexes now.”
Well fuck me sideways!
So, she wasn’t having a living, breathing human being who has thoughts and feelings, needs and wants. She was having a fashion accessory!
I sit here now, praying that her son (yep, she had a Prince whose name is not even remotely Royal), matches her shoes!
I wonder what she would have done if the shops didn’t sell nice things for boys? Would she have refused to take him home because it would be impossible to accessorise him?
I’m glad she didn’t have a Princess because that poor child would have been doomed to a life of pink frills, tiaras, 6-inch diamante heels, and being told that she was beautiful and that’s all that matters.
I worry about the weird attitudes people have around males and females. Babies are born neutral. They are clean slates who have no preferences or prejudices. It is the adults in their lives who impress upon them.
Even before they’re out of the womb, it is already decided what boys and girls can and can’t be, what they can and can’t wear, what colours they’re ‘allowed’ to like, what they will play with, and how they are expected to behave. They are oppressed in utero.
‘Are they?’ you ask. Well, yes. Chances are their first toys and clothes will be gender-biased.
“How lovely, a strong, robust boy! Here, I bought him a train and a blue suit.”
“How lovely, a beautiful, delicate girl! Here, I bought her a doll and a pink dress.”
Forever after, every gift will be along the same lines. Every discussion they overhear will be about the roles they’ve been unwittingly assigned. Every behaviour will be modified according to whether it’s gender-appropriate. ‘Boys don’t cry. Girls keep themselves nice’.
Adults narrow a child’s parameters. Not the child itself. There really is no scope to just ‘be’ because we are all so quickly moulded to ‘do’.
I know there is the nature/nurture debate and I don’t deny that as they grow and develop their preferences, boys and girls show leanings. But, do they like what they like only because of all the conditioning received from birth by the things they’ve been endlessly exposed to?
I don’t know. But I do believe that we are products of our environment. We’re programmed into a set of beliefs. We’re trained into certain behaviours. We’re told what’s right and wrong; good and bad. And we learn these things by osmosis the same way we learn anything else.
The way I see it, there is no such thing as a neutral environment. So, how much of who we are is really ‘who we are’?