However, turning your child into an international freak show is not okay. To make this huge socio-political statement through your infant is no damn fair. To make it through your twelve year old is no damn fair. If the parents want to start dressing themselves in gender-neutral clothing and refusing to reveal their own gender to people, that's fine and that's their business. If Baby Storm reaches the age of 18 and decides ghe wants to tell the entire planet that ghe doesn't want to reveal gher gender, that is absolutely great. Your kid is not a science fair project. Your kid is not a political statement. Your kid is a life, and a fragile life at that, and does not deserve to have gher parents using gher to get attention for themselves.
Then there's this story, about a preschool in Sweden that avoids using gender adjectives and gender-specific toys, stories, and play. Folks have accused the school, among other things, of "mind control" because of the way they manipulate the environment to be gender free. Actually, the school reminds me a lot of the way I was raised. Mom wanted my sister and me not to feel limited by our physical gender, so our toys were very gender-neutral until we were old enough to select our own toys. I had dolls because I wanted them. I had toy tools because I wanted them. My sister wore the same baseball cap night and day for an entire summer, yet nowadays she wears makeup and does her hair and stuff every day. On the other hand, I liked to dress like a little princess as a kid, and now I rarely wear makeup or jewelry. We had those books that were popular in the 70s with genderless characters, and my mom used to sing little songs about how boys and girls could grow up to be whatever they wanted. As a teen and a young adult, I was confused by a great many things, but gender wasn't one of them. I love the color pink, and I love super heroes. I like to climb, build, and roughhouse, but I also like to cuddle and nurture. I wear men's and women's clothes pretty much interchangeably. I'm not a freak.
I mean, yes, I'm a freak, and on so many levels, but the fact that I'm comfortable in my own skin and my own gender, ambiguous as that may be, doesn't make me more of a freak. Bottom line: I'm deeply grateful that my folks tried to raise me in a world without rigid gender rules. It opened doors in terms of the classes I took and the jobs I chose. Were I raised to believe that girls should be princesses and play with Barbies and such, I'd have experienced a lot of confusion later on. BUT, my folks didn't alert the international media to their parenting decisions.
So I'll close with these neat little things from the Web site The Achilles Effect. This site talks about gender stereotypes that young boys face, and I absolutely love it. This entry talks about the word clouds below: the author looked at the words used in commercials for typical "boy" toys and typical "girl" toys, and while she points out that her methods aren't scientific, I think you'll find they hit pretty close to the mark:
Words used in advertising for "boy" toys:
And "girl" toys