When my daughter was a baby, I made a point of avoiding dressing her in girly pink. She clearly had 100 miles of personality from birth, and I didn't want her looking like some stereotypical little princess.
But when we were out and about, people kept mistaking her for a boy, fooled by her red coat and blue trousers. An older couple in a café one day even had a loud argument over the fact that she couldn't be a girl, because her blanket had blue in it (it also had pink, which they somehow missed). At first I wasn't bothered, but then it began to bug me because the outside world was mistaking a vital part of her identity.
So I can understand not being too obvious about your child's gender, but keeping it a complete secret? That's what one family in Sweden have done:
The child in question is a two and a half year old toddler known as Pop. Apart from the parents and few others, nobody knows if the child they call Pop is a boy or a girl. Pop's parents are feminists who believe that the idea of gender is an unnecessary and potentially harmful social construction. They believe that by keeping Pop's gender a secret from the world, their child will be able to grow up without preconceived notions of how he or she should be treated based on his or her gender.
Pop is allowed to choose what to wear from a collection of both girls' and boys' clothing and has ever-changing hairstyles. The parents say that Pop understands the physical differences between boys and girls but they avoid using gender specific personal pronouns when referring to their child. Pop is just Pop.
"We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset," Pop's mother said. "It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead."
But what happens when Pop gets older and has ideas of his or her own? What if ~ perish the thought ~ s/he wants to go through a princess phase? I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
What do you think? Can you understand why a parent would do this?
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