A couple in Sweden have decided to raise their child genderless, or in my opinion, screw up their perfectly healthy child. The couple won’t answer any gender questions pertaining to their two-year-old son or daughter, who the media is calling “Pop.”
The idea behind the genderless upbringing is that the child won’t grow up with preconceived notions of gender and won’t be pigeon-holed into acting like a boy or a girl.
I’m sorry, but there is NOTHING WRONG with having a gender. The parents are creating gender issues where there probably weren’t any in the first place.
As a parent, why would you want to do anything that might encourage this type of identity crisis and bring about certain ridicule from peers on your own child? Isn’t adolescence difficult enough already? The parents claim that Pop will be able to choose his/her own gender whenever he/she feels it is the right time. Pop, for your own sake, I hope it’s soon.
Read for yourself over at The Local.
[Posted by Shannon]
15 responses to “no pink or blue for pop.”
I guess you must be pretty unaware of gender theory and the fact that gender is constructed by social norm. Most of us are forced into a gender norm from early age either by our parents or anybody else around us. This represents a very harsh imposition on people who are transgender, intersex or simply have a gender expression and identity for fluid than the typical binary of man vs. woman.
In this case the parents are deleting one of the most controversial issues when it comes to our human socializing which is being stuck in a preconceived notion of gender. You know if you are a boy everything comes in blue and if you are a girl everything comes in pink (exceptions include many preppy guys).
As a matter of fact it is not only these Swedish parents who are catching up with the reality of forcing gender stereotypes. The chair of the office of Common Ground in Mallory’s, Kathleen’s and my alma matter decided along with his wife that they would not teach their child to use gender specific pronouns or adjectives to designate people. In this case their child does not refer to people as a He or a She but rather as a Person. This assures that this child will never assume a gender on others just because of what the child sees in the outside.
I know that you as many of us are comfortable with the idea of genders. However I urge you to consider the consequences of trying to impose on people the idea of masculinity and femininity. If we would get stuck in that sense we wouldn’t have any female sports players or male artists.
“In this case their child does not refer to people as a He or a She but rather as a Person.”
Well, I hope that child doesn’t grow up to be an English speaking/writing journalist. That might be tough with the redundancy. However, the “usted” third person in Spanish would make that a bit easier.
Shannon, hi and thanks for this post. Not trying to knock you for your first real blog post, because I know how crappy it can feel “when commenters attack,” but I wholeheartedly agree with Carlos (who I would not describe as an attacker, just to clarify).
Here’s an experiment that I like to do that shows just how the gender binary that’s imposed on us at birth (as opposed to evolving naturally, by choice, and without all the dark/light, good/bad, black/white shortcuts that our feeble human brains use to simplify more complex concepts) affects our behavior in harmful ways. In your next meeting where a group of people are talking, observe the speakers. The women will sit prim and proper taking up a very tiny amount of space. The men will have wide stances, with their legs, shoulders, even lounging across the entire desk as if they are entitled to that space. Women are told to shrink, and they do, and men are told told to take up as much space as they feel like, and they do. I call bullshit. Try to take both armrests on an airplane when you’re sitting with a man and check out his alarm when he realizes that YOU, woman, who’s supposed to be tiny, and unobtrusive, took HIS arm rest. Long story short, the gender binary is as useless as it is made up–it does nothing to organize society in a meaningful way and really has no basis in “nature,” (when has nature ever been so rigid that there are only two options, ever?). And is in fact harmful because it organizes men as primary and women as secondary, and everyone who doesn’t fit neatly into one of those categories as subversive freaks. No thanks, I don’t buy it, and thanks for the armrest, homeskillet.
Thanks a lot for all the comments. While I am no expert on this subject, it is my personal opinion that gender itself (solely being male or female) is not a social construct but the way you are born. Just the way we are each born with a sexual preference – I don’t believe that being gay or straight has anything to do with how we are raised. It seems we disagree on this initial point – which I don’t think we’ll be able to convince one another that they are wrong.
I am not saying that a woman being born as a woman should only do “female things” and a man being born as a man should only do “male things,” quite the contrary. I am saying that a child is born either female or male, and then the possibilities for that child should be endless. In an ideal world, being born as a certain gender shouldn’t matter, both genders should have the exact same opportunities. But that doesn’t mean that gender (how we are born, rather than raised) doesn’t exist. Genetically, men and women are different, and there is no debate on that.
As for transgender people, it is my understanding that a transgender person is born in the body of the opposite gender. Therefore, they were in fact born with a specific gender, but happen to be in the wrong body.
Anyway, thanks again for the comments. It definitely makes blogging more interesting.
Being gay or straight (or something else) may have something to do with how we ” are raised ” as well as how we are born. Identical twins, who have identical genes, that end up having different sexual orientations are not unheard of.
” … given the difference in sexuality in so many sets of identical twins (who are genetically identical), sexual orientation cannot be purely caused by genetics. ”
This is an awesome discussion. Shannon, maybe I should have specified that there is a very significant difference between gender and sex. While gender is the series of norms of behavior that we follow sex is what we are born biologically or in a way how we are defined genetically according to our chromosomes (albeit it has been discovered that not even that is all defining the sex that we are born with). Thus while gender is defined as man or woman, boy or girl, and anything in between; sex is defined as male (with male genitalia) female (with female genitalia), intersex, hermaprhodite and all the things in between.
Hey everyone! Carlos and E.Lee — you both probably have way more of an academic background on this than I do, but I can speak from an accidentally-took-a-gender-class-and-was-enlightened perspective. Shan, I think you might be confusing sex and gender. Sex is biological — which parts you were born with, more or less — while gender is a social construct that people tend to tie to sex. Gender divides everyone in the world into two categories: male or female, man or woman. If you think about it, that really is absurd. Pretty much no one identifies with 100% stereotypically “male” characteristics or 100% stereotypically “female” characteristics, yet everyone gets labeled as one or the other, with (until recently) no in-between. Really, we’re all somewhere on a gender continuum. I think this makes a ton of sense, but it’s also hard to wrap your mind around how you might work this truth into society as it is now.
That’s where I see some potential problems with what the parents of Pop are trying to do. I think their goal is an admirable one — and it will be fascinating to see how this child grows up without any social constructed notions of gender forced upon them — but it’s also one of those things that will likely be hard for the child to deal with in a world that’s still very much focused on gender divides. So I guess my point is: excellent idea, and I agree that gender is a bullshit social construct, BUT it will be interesting to see how this family reconciles their own ideas about gender with the rest of society’s ideas about gender as Pop gets older.
Carlos and E.Lee, please correct me if I’m way off. And Carlos, are you talking about Glyn? If so, good for him!
Carlos you got here before I did, but well said! I think that’s a great explanation of the sex versus gender question.
I agree that this is a possibly damaging experiment to put a young child through. But I disagree, as others above have done, that the concept is innately malicious and hurtful to “Pop.” They really could’ve picked a better gender neutral name. Kelsey, for example, not that I’m biased.
I also want to express my dismay at the use of the phrase “sexual preference.” You say in the same sentence that people are born gay or straight but term it as a sexual preference. The more accepted term is sexual orientation. As the token B in the LGBT acronym I get an icky feeling inside when someone says sexual preference. Icky feeling is the technical term for it.
I would also identify as queer (in the orientation and gender sense.) A lot of my friends from college would identify as genderqueer individuals. I’ve learned a lot from my trans and queer friends. I’m lucky to have been exposed to this issue during my college years. I truly wish that we lived in a society that didn’t make such harsh distinctions between the genders. It would make it easier for my friends to pick the correct bathroom for their gender or dress the way they want without getting dirty looks or physical abuse. It would also make it easier for men and women to act in ways that broke the binary (i.e. ballroom dancing or playing rugby.)
The world does not allow for endless opportunities regardless of gender. That goes for both men and women. Men who choose typically female dominated professions like nursing, social work, or library science (hello, Simmons grad programs) get ridiculed for these decisions. Remember when Harvard president Larry Summers said that women weren’t as good at math and science? I still consciously second guess myself in my basic science research job, even though there are female scientists all around me.
People are uncomfortable with the grey area, people who don’t fit neatly into the binary we’ve constructed. That goes for people of ambiguous gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, etc. I think that our generation is becoming more accepting of people regardless of how they identify but we’re a long way off from deconstructing the masculine/feminine binary. Maybe this family is taking an important step. At the very least they’re getting people talking.
I’m so enjoying this dialogue, and couldn’t have said it better myself, Kelsey: at the very least they’re getting people talking.
And to Kelsey and others who were worried: Pop is NOT this child’s real name. Thank goodness, eh?
Thanks for your comment! It had never even occurred to me that the term “sexual preference” could be offensive or icky as you described it, but now it makes total sense. I promise to use the term sexual orientation from now on. Thanks for pointing that out.
How did you guys get so smaht?
Nothing but a steady diet of teevee, trashy magazines, and vodka.
Genetics, Mom. A combination of college and genetics.
I would blame all the genetically modified crops that our generation has consumed over the past two decades.