I had gender disappointment with both my girls. I’ve read various opinions on gender hating women and what not about women who do not like other women and who did not want girls. I felt guilty for apparently being one of those women, but then I examined my reasons a bit closer.
First off I was afraid of pinkness and ruffles and princess stuff, but that doesn’t have to be a given. Girls do not have to equal a world of pink candyfloss. I think this is quite a common and superficial reason really. Not superficial in a bad way, but the actual meaning of the word-only touching the surface. All the things associated with having to wear pink, or ruffles, or dresses. It doesn’t have to be like that. As the mom I make executive decisions on clothing. When they are babies they have no say anyhow, so I go for things I like-which tend to be plain neutral colours. There’s a fair amount of green and blue and grey in the baby wardrobes. When they get older you help them pick out things they like and you want them to have what they like because you love them, so it doesn’t matter if it’s pink or ruffly.
I remember being a little girl and finding my gender so unfair that around age 5-9 and probably beyond I desperately wanted to be a boy. It just seemed like boyishness was no question the better option. All of the sit still, look nice and the additional experiences of being denied some toys and having other toys foisted on me all in the name of being a girl and none of the boy allowances of getting dirty, playing rough and playing with robots and dinosaurs. I was actually denied toys because they were boys toys and had other toys given to me because they were for girls. I had to dress in certain ways, I had to behave just so and I had to worry about my weight and my body from very young. So naturally I found the whole idea of being a girl undesirable for my children.
Growing up and puberty were not easy either and often presented as a female burden. I have a touch of PCOS and was worried about passing that on, passing on my body shape, and although I maintain a relatively positive outlook these days I did have a lot of self loathing when younger for being short, stocky, a bit more hairy. I didn’t see those aspects of being female as positive for any children of mine.
Women hating, no, self hating, yes. I expect that the majority of gender preference for boys from women is along those lines.
So no, it’s no wonder I didn’t want girls. It didn’t come from dislike of my gender in the slightest, but from concern over what their life would be like. The unfairness and fear I’d experienced-who would want a child to live through that?
Now doing it, it’s a much different experience than I ever expected. There is pink and purple…and orange, green and blue. There are princesses and butterflies, and trucks and bugs and monsters and robots. Princess robots even. It’s pretty rad actually, making sure these little girls lives are full of pirate girls, catching spiders, and pretty skirts. Nothing is just girl stuff. I’m sure that that’s largely me exerting my influence over what my kids get. Some of it’s 30 years of feminism as well. I can see there is still worry to be had…
Not wanting girls because of our own past is sad, but it’s not completely self hating or necessarily a sign of internalized misogyny. Even now it’s a tough world for girls, and as a female it’s easy to see privilege in how males live and want that privilege for your offspring. It’s part of our first world obsession with wanting the best. We want the best food, the optimal circumstances, and to do the best. In a lot of ways boys are still viewed as the better gender. Simpler or at least less complex, with fewer potential minefields to negotiate (though this is very much the wrong way to look at things. I’m just saying that unless you make the effort to look deeper this is how things look: Girls are tricky, boys are simple). It’s getting better and it can certainly be a tough world for boys too, for some of the same, though markedly different reasons. Boys more often still have the disadvantage of gendered toys, whereas with girls it’s more frequently viewed as cool for girls to play with boy intended toys. I could write a whole bit on the disadvantages boys still have, but the point is that boy disadvantages are not as obvious to a woman.
All of that makes me wonder about women who do want girls and what their perspective is. I’m fine having girls now (even if I end up with three- previously a private nightmare) because kids are kids and gender is pretty irrelevant by the time you get to know your kid (and they stop being a little baby-beast) as far as I can tell. I had to look beyond my experiences and how I was raised to get to this point though.
Can I still be afraid of teenagers? Because I am. I’m sure that’s because I was a horrible teenager. Just awful. But I have good things to look forward to there as well. My girls are damn well going to know about how ovulation works. Taking Charge of Your Fertility will be required reading. I despair at the thought of them finding their body a complete and frightening mystery. I just can’t imagine being too embarrassed to talk to them about sex. I had to clean poop out of their vaginas (which I was also afraid of but the reality is you just get on with it).