Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baby Men And Women

A good topic right before the New Year which is often depicted as a baby. I saw several real babies over the holidays. You can tell which ones are girl babies because their almost-bald heads have a pink bow (most likely glued down). The boy babies have a baseball cap on top of their bald heads.

The girl babies wear pink and their tops are embroidered with flowers or cuddly animals, the boy babies wear dark blue and gray and their tops have cars or soccer balls or airplanes.

All this is to allow other adults to sex the baby correctly. Of course you could switch the dressing rules and have your boy baby wear a frilly pink jacket. Then the sky would fall. But only when it's a boy dressed as a girl, not the other way round.

My alien friend from outer space would have a hard time understanding why we need to sex babies so bad that everything (pretty much everything) they wear is gender-color-and-pattern-coded. That friend might also wonder why the bedrooms for a girl baby and boy baby must look so exaggeratingly sex-stereotyped. Would the sky really fall if a boy baby had to sleep in a room with a few pink objects? Are pictures of footballs truly a necessary part of the male-baby-experience? Are frills as important for a female-baby-experience as mother's milk?

None of this probably matters to the babies themselves. They are too young to take the hints they are given, though that will change in a very short time. It's us adults that somehow need this strict girl/boy distinction.

Contrast these customs with the essentialist argument that we are unavoidably born as aggressive and active males or passive and coy females. If this were truly the case, why would anyone put so much effort into expressing the obvious? And why would pink be the prehistorically determined color for girls?

It makes no sense to me.

If all this sounds grouchy, well, it is. I thought this particular topic would sound as quaint by now as discussing the short trousers of Victorian boys.
Note: This post is not intended to criticize parents but the culture we live in.