Saturday, May 14, 2011

What makes a boy?

What is with children's toy and clothing branding today? I was ranting on Facebook how one outfit that my son has is not only blue, but the manufacturers had to go and print "BOY" on the front of it. WTF? Were they worried that some parent might go and - God forbid - buy that blue outfit for a female baby? Were they worried that despite a parent going with the 'boys in blue' code that some person might mistakenly say, "Oh what a cute girl"? Because geez, that would be traumatic. I live in fear of someone referring to my 7-pound baby as a girl. He might grow up scarred for life!

Seriously, I just don't get it. TM wears pink all the time. He is clearly male. Also, who cares what gender a baby is called? They have no clue about what gender they are so why should adults get all upset about it.

It also bothers me that the labelling of baby clothes is part of the ongoing denigration of the female. I wear blue all the time and if a parent put a little girl in a 'male outfit' [I'll leave that to you to decide what that might embody], most people nowadays wouldn't be very fussed. But put a male baby in a little frilly dress and people would think you were weird or trying to make a point. Such conditioning. Even I was going to buy Finn a pink dress but felt that it wouldn't be quite right. I think in some ways that I should do that just to try and fight against stereotypes.

I have a number of friends who said things to me like, "I offered my son both dolls and trucks and he just chose to play with the trucks. Boys and girls really are different." Please. Gender stereotyping is entrenched long, long before the doll/truck issue comes up. I only have to talk to my sister to realize this as well. Now fair enough, in her case she was transgendered and wanting to be a woman is different than just wearing pink. However, she clearly saw how streamlined boys and girls are into categories of what they should/shouldn't do.

There is some progress though. I told all the nurses in the hospital that my son was gay [usually when we were all joking about what babies in the nursery could start dating and they would talk about a little girl and I would ask them to instead select the cutest boy as my son's partner]. Now, I really do hope that my son is gay although obviously I'll accept him if he's straight, but the nurses were also fine with that idea too. Probably twenty years ago they would have seen me as an unfit mother.

One final note as this post is all over the place - high-end baby clothes are not as gender-identified. I have some clothes from the French store Jacadi and although the clothes are still largely blue/pink, they don't have overkill (like 'boy' or 'little engineer' vs. 'little princess' written on them) and could go for the most part on either sex. And that's just it, even though gender lines are more blurred than ever, baby clothes are not. Boys' clothes used to be have those cute little bloomer outfits but now they seem to be hyper masculine right from birth.


Lesley said...

Recently I shopped for a little outfit for my friends' new baby daughter, and I was appalled and nauseated to see there were little pink outfits with words like "Hottie!" on them. Seriously? Someone who's 0-3 months needs to be labeled as a "hottie"? Ugh.

Anonymous said...

When my oldest was a baby, I had a dress on her, shoes, and a little headband with a rose on it and someone said "Oh, what a cute little boy!" I was like, "Really?"

So obviously, clothes are just clothes to some.

My grandson's other grandma keeps bringing him his daddy's baby clothes...powder blue velour. Are you frigging kidding me lady? This isn't 1982! I don't care what color the clothes are, as long as they're from this century.

That being said, you new moms are missing out on the best invention ever...those sleepers with the dress bottoms that tie at the foot? Easiest jammies ever. And I can't find any anywhere.

tornwordo said...

Before I can even remember, my mother says I wanted to dress up in her clothes, purses, scarves and whatnot. She worked hard to dissuade this. Did it work? On the one hand, yes, I'm not a cross dresser, on the other hand no, I still turned out gay.

St. Dickeybird said...

The only difference between a GIJoe doll and a Barbie doll is the gun. And to be honest, even as a kid i'd have appreciated the eroticism of Barbie with a gun...
Screw gender identities!

Susan as Herself said...

Yeah---my mother used to dress me all in pink as an infant, and people would still say I was "a handsome boy." Apparently I was bald until I was 2 years old, and my mother admitted I looked like Winston Churchill.

I shop for baby clothing for friends and am depressed at all the tacky gender labeling---so ugly and ultimately pointless. I always look for unisex clothing with an artistic edge or handmade flair. You pay a bit more, but it's better than a "My Little Princess" shirt. UGH.

CoffeeDog said...

I hated dresses and all things pink when I was a wee one. I always was mistaken for a little boy (still am, tho not little anymore!) My parents were always very accepting of letting me do what I wanted. I hope Finn is gay too :-) xox love you!

Hammy said...

Wait until you have to go shopping for your little guy and find that the boy section is a quarter of the size of the girls'.

Snooze said...

Lesley: Hottie? Really? Ugh.

HinH: Oh come on, powder blue velour - your grandbaby has to wear that! That's too funny for words. As for the sleep sack type thing - I have one of those. My friend bought it from the The Children's Place and I had two preemie versions from the Bay. You're right - they rock (mine are gathered with loose elastic though)

Torn: My sister knew she was transgendered very early on and knew also to hide it. She would never dress up for fear of someone figuring it out. Maybe you were more open-minded and confident with 'wanting to be a girl' as not part of your identity. Just a willingness to play and experiment.

St.D: Mmm... NAVY Seals Barbie. I'd buy that.

Susan: I must admit that half my son's wardrobe is blue but they tend to be blue things that I would dress a girl in too. Some are just so over the top though and I also hate the Little Princess stuff.

CD: I love the fact that your parents were accepting. I wonder though when the time will come that little boys can wear pink dresses and people won't freak.