Does it have a penis or a vagina?

Okay, okay. Are you getting sick of the pregnancy-related posts, yet? (Hopefully not.) Well, make room for one more. I had no idea there was so much about pregnancy and being pregnant in America that would spark my feminist thought-machine!

A very popular question I get these days is, “So, is it a boy or a girl?” I try my best to smile patiently as I answer, “I don’t know. We’re not finding out.”

Usually this is enough for the casual observer. But every now and then the subject really ignites a passion in the other person. They must know what gender my fetus is, damn it! They find it horrifying that I don’t know and don’t care to know! Indeed, some people are actually sort of pissed off that I do not care about this construct called gender. Or to put it another way — that I do not care if my fetus has a tiny little vagina or a tiny little penis.

“But, you must care what you get?!” They stammer incredulously. And then, almost conspiratorially, “Tell me the truth: What do you want? A boy or a girl?”

My answer is always the truth and always the same, “I want healthy.”

That’s right. I’m some sort of pinko-commie-hippie-scum! I’m a pregnant woman who does not care about the gender of her fetus! Egads!! Panic! Mass hysteria, thy name is American Culture.

“Oh, yes of course.” They say dismissively. “Of course you want five fingers, five toes, etc. But what do you want the baby to be?”

Ah, so what we’re really getting at is that the gender of the fetus is actually a predictor of how they will not only arrive into the world at birth but how they will be treated for the rest of their lives. By the simple genetic dice of gender, my fetus will someday be thrust into a world that either hates its genitalia and all it stands for (talking to you ladies, unfortunately) or worships its genitalia as a status symbol for future power, earning potential, sexual prowess and so much more. I mean, I could be over-reacting here but … well, look at the health care reform debate. It sure feels like it’s gotten crushed by the weight of so many people hating women having any autonomy over their vaginas/uteruses. But that couldnt’ be it … I guess it’s just my pregnancy hormones.

Getting back to me being pinned in the corner:

“But how will you plan for your baby if you don’t know the sex?” Many, many, many people ask me. (sigh)

And I say, “Why would I need to know the gender to plan for a baby?”

Now, I’m new to this. I’m a mother-to-be, not an actual mommy yet. But last time I checked a baby needs a safe home, loving parental unit(s), food, crib, diapers, clothes … no where on that list is there any need for color-coded, mass-consumer, categorical assumptions based on genitalia. I get that this is about pink and blue. I get that. People in my own family have voiced their irritation with me that they can’t buy any gifts until they know the sex! Really? Really?! I didn’t realize that booties and onesies and baby washcloths had to be vetted for gender control.

I wish I could say that my decision to avoid constructing a gender paradigm for my fetus was based on some feminist quality I have. But in honesty, it was my husband’s idea. He came home one day and had a very well-thought-out argument for the surprise at birth plan — the root of which being that there are very few surprises left in modern society with all our gadgets and such. Considering that my husband is an engineer and has had a keen interest in understanding how things in the world work since he was a baby himself, I was immediately wooed by the passion of his argument and agreed on the spot.

But perhaps that’s the fully realized implication of living a feminist life and growing a feminist family unit. Perhaps when you have embraced equality and feminism in your life, the decisions you make can be feminist without your even realizing it or debating that quality of it. It is simply an internalized part of your process. I like to think that’s where my husband and I are at as individuals and as a family (and yes, my husband and I have been a family unit even before little fetus came into the picture).

So, here at Siren headquarters, which also happens to be my house, we’re not worrying much about pink or blue. We’re not debating the merits of one over the other. We’re not applying ancient wisdom or old-wives tales or modern science to the question of this fetus’ gender. We’re doing it old-school and waiting until May.

2 thoughts on “Does it have a penis or a vagina?

  1. I went through the same thing 2 years ago. Luckily, on my side of the family there is a tradition of not finding out, so I didn’t get pressure from that camp. I found that most people who I told that we were waiting to find out didn’t believe me. Several of my old co-workers confided in me after the baby came that they believed I had been lying the whole time about not knowing!
    I heard that same BS about the colors of things too. I expect you’ll be hit with an onslaught of the “proper” colored things in May.
    Wishing you a healthy delivery and baby!

  2. Pingback: Different for girls | The Sin City Siren

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s