As soon as we knew I was pregnant, we told our son Sol and involved him in the pregnancy and the midwife appointments. He recently accompanied us to our 20 week scan.
After the radiographer had done all the important measurements and observations, she got to the least important part – finding the vulva or the penis. As she was looking for that part of our baby’s body she said to me “Ouhhh, you’ll soon know if you’ll have to be buying a pink tutu!”
(I am sure my husband smothered a laugh at this point. I decided to refrain from launching into a tirade about gender stereotyping and the findings of various neurological studies on gender.)
As it turns out, we spotted a vulva. And I realised that, at 20 weeks gestation this wee girl had already experienced her first gender stereotyping.
It isn’t that pink tutus violently offend me, it’s that there was an assumption that if my baby had a vulva, then pink tutus would be the most important thing I would be thinking about, and that her vulva would automatically predispose her to an uncontrollable urge to wear pink tutus.
Who knows, perhaps our daughter will be an absolute ballet fanatic, in which case I am sure our house will be loaded with tutus of all description. Or she could be a soccer player, a hip-hop dancer, a chess-club-member, a gymnast, a swimmer... - in which case we may have no pink tutus at all. Or maybe she’ll have stages of being all of the above, and our already cluttered home will have a collection of all sorts of outfits in all sorts of colours.
The only thing I do know is that I will be doing everything in my Mama-Bear power to shelter our daughter from all the gender-limiting stereotypes all too persuasive in our culture. And I am grateful to the amazing people who campaign so hard on these issues - Enlighten Education, Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies, 7Wonderlicious and so many more.
Rachel is a writer and educator whose fields of interest include sexuality education, gender, feminism and youth development.