Monday, May 28, 2012

My Fetus is Against the Patriarchy

At 32 weeks gestation, it recently occurred to me that in addition to shelter and food, the kid is going to need some sort of clothing.  We were in Richmond, VA last weekend and hit up some thrift stores for cheap baby threads.  Incidentally, if anyone is in Richmond, I recommend Diversity Thrift, which benefits GBLT-friendly HIV organizations (a direct counter to the philosophy of the Salvation Army) and has baby and kids’ clothes for 25 cents. Twenty-five cents, people!  On top of that, we are planning a major tie-dying event, so slightly stained items were desirable.  We may have gone a bit crazy, but anyway, the kid will have plenty to wear.

On our shopping trip, there were some prime examples of problematically gendered baby clothes:

Boys are all about danger and trucks and football!

And girls are all about shopping!

A common critique of gendered baby clothing is that girl clothes focus on looking cute and boy clothes focus on actions and non-aesthetic attributes (such as strength and intelligence).  But don't worry, value based on your attractiveness is now equal opportunity: 

"Does this diaper make my butt look big?"  

Seriously, people?  This is not cute, this is not harmless, this is not a joke.  This is introducing body hatred to BABIES.  It is not ok.

(I understand that babies can't typically read.  However, I would argue that 1. Our baby will be a genius, and can probably already read, and 2. emblazoning a child's torso or butt with such slogans will inevitably affect the way literate people interact with him/her, and allow the message to be sublimated).  

It feels very…greedy to say that this is why we aren’t telling people the sex of the baby.  But it's more than that.  It isn’t simply that we don’t want to receive clothes like this for gifts.  It isn’t just that we don’t want to dress our child in this absurdly gendered clothing.

The fact that baby clothes like this exist shows that these sexist, body-shaming, consumerism-frenzied, and generally problematic ideas in our culture are being delivered directly to people small enough to wear a 0-3 month onesie.  And I am not sharing the sex of my child because I want him/her to be sheltered from these gendered expectations for as long as possible.  At least until, you know, birth. 


  1. I posted this to the Gender Neutral Parenting Facebook page :)!/pages/Gender-Neutral-Parenting/302740229762397

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  3. By the way I absolutely felt the same way, which is why we chose to not find out the sex of our baby until she was born. I knew that if we knew, eventually it would slip. People actually asked me how I was going to get ANYTHING without knowing. I was like, uh, gender neutral. Then the response would almost always be, so everything is going to be like yellow? No. The nursery is actually purple green and orange with monkeys! However, inevitably, every gift since her birth has been pink. I just try my best to balance it out with my own purchases...

  4. I heard of some families not even telling people AFTER the child is born. Which is a kind of cool experiment. There are great studies of filming people interacting with babies based on the colour of the onesie. Can't remember refs, but I read about them. Incredible. "Oh aren't you beautiful" vs "oooo, you are so big and strong." Grrr.