Wrong on so many different levels.
When I was pregnant, almost every nurse, doctor or lab technician asked me the same question: so you guys aren’t finding out the gender, huh? To which, I replied the same way to each medical professional: well, there’s no way to know, is there?
Without fail, the person always looked at me like I’d landed from Mars. But I stuck to my guns: until there’s an ultrasound that can detect a teeny-tiny Barbie house or Thomas The Tank Engine inside a woman’s womb, no parent or doctor on earth can determine the gender of any baby (at least, not until he or she is much older, and then, it might still be a pretty difficult assessment).
Many folks make this mistake. They confuse sex (anatomy, which we can detect in the womb) and gender (a social construction, think “masculinity” and “femininity,” which we can not)— especially when it comes to young children.
And many parents will go way out of their way to police the gender boundaries for their own kids and even kids they’ve never met before.
Just ask Mallory May. Yesterday, the Manhattan mother and her three-year-old son, Oscar were photographed by Brandon Stanton, a local blogger who runs Humans of New York, a site that describes itself as a photographic census of the city— and boy did the picture set off a firestorm of Facebook controversy. There was little Oscar, prancing around his neighborhood, proudly dressed in one of his brand new Halloween costumes: a princess. [...]
It turns out, teaching your kid how to cross traditional gender lines could be better for him in the long run. Showing boys that there isn’t one way to “be a man” may, in fact, be an invaluable lesson as he enters a world of new economic realities— where the same kinds of “male jobs” don’t exist anymore and if they do, aren’t necessarily a clear-cut path to long-term stability or upward mobility.
As Hanna Rosin describes in her new book, The End of Men And The Rise Of Women, men who’ve remained rigid and “cardboard” in their traditional, breadwinning roles, haven’t fared as well as women who adapt more easily, and now, in many cases, surpass their spouses in the new social and economic order.
So buying your little boy that princess costume? Might just be one of the smartest things you do for him this Halloween.