Somewhere up in Canada there lives a family. I have never met these people, never been invited to their house, I do not know their names. Yet, I know that they have a baby. This baby is named Storm, but I don’t know what sex this baby is. The mother isn’t telling anyone in an attempt to raise the child “genderless”. Or, perhaps not genderless, but more like without all the social pressures and stereotypes of what it means to be a male or a female (such as the all-pink aisle in Target. I wonder what that’s for?)
Alright, so I looked up their names. Halleluiah Google! The mother’s name is Kathy Witterick. After refusing to reveal her baby’s sex, the story exploded and went viral. People all over not just her nation, but our nation as well, couldn’t help but wonder what was in between this baby’s legs. But it’s only natural to want to know, right? Human nature has us constantly wondering about what’s between everybody’s legs!
It’s true, though. Ever see a guy wearing a dress, or a person in a baggy tee-shirt and jeans that you just couldn’t figure out? You do a double take, stare a little longer than usual, squint your eyes, tilt your head. Not going to lie, it’s kind of weird. But that’s because we’ve gendered ourselves so much.
Humans do this weird thing where we cover up what makes us male or female (our genitals), but we cover them in an explicit way that lets everyone know what’s underneath. Womens clothes are usually colored, cute, frilly, tight; while mens clothes tend to be more baggy, more neutral in color, more sport-like, more “masculine”. Here’s more ways we gender ourselves: men are buff, women are toned. Men are strong and distant, women are emotional. Men play sports and get dirty and sweaty and grunt, and women wear makeup and hairspray and perfume and talk. These stereotypes are built into our clothes, our personalities, our bodies. We do gender all the time, constantly, whether we realize it or not. It comes out of our mouths, and shows in our hair, and in the way we walk and sit in a chair.
Now, back to the baby. Is it so bad that the mother is raising her child “genderless” because we’ve so gendered our culture? We exaggerate the differences between our sexualities. And people who don’t exaggerate, maybe a girl with short hair who wears loose graphic tee-shirts, or a slimmer guy who’s sensitive and cares about how he looks, their sexualities are questioned because they deviate from the exaggerated norms we’ve created as a society about what it is to be male or female.
A lot of people are upset because if the baby doesn’t understand gender norms, will s/he be able to fit into society? Will Baby Storm not fit in because s/he doesn’t know if s/he’s male or female? Will children not accept him/her even though s/he’s a perfectly nice human being? Possibly. This decision will most likely affect Baby Storm’s entire life. But is it the mother’s fault for refusing to accept the way in which society operates, or is it our fault for participating in and continuing gendered society?
Is it anyone’s fault at all?
What do you think?