Monday, July 11, 2011

Boys vs. Girls

I always wanted a little girl. A little girl I could dress in overalls, teach how to climb trees, roll in mud and kick a football.  So, when I found out at my twelve week scan that I was definitely having a son, I must confess to feeling a teeny tiny bit disappointed. That feeling was soon replaced by embarrassment at the sight of my husband punching the air in the radiographers room.

      Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my son. Yes, I dress him in overalls, teach him to climb trees, encourage him to roll in mud and he teaches me how to kick a football (it’s usually him screaming ‘MUMMY I DOO!’)

      But a tiny part of me still yearns for a girl – fingers crossed for number 2 – to right the wrongs of my own childhood.  See, being a girl in my very traditional South Asian household, was like being a second class citizen.

      Who had to wash the dishes never mind the fact that my brother used them? Me. Who had to sweep the house and tidy up never mind the fact that my brother had created the mess? Me. Was I allowed out after sunset? No. Why? Because I was a girl. I was forced to capitulate on any argument with my brother brought in front of my mother for adjudication. Why? Because I was a friggin girl and ‘women must learn to compromise’. But why? Just because. Who was fawned on he got great results in Year 12? My brother. And when I kicked his butt a few years later with better Year 12 results, I had no accolades. Why? Because you’re a girl, it doesn’t matter what you do because you’ll get married anyway!

      It’s enough to start hating your own femineity.

      Over the years, I have been able to rationalise my childhood as the by-product of a misogynist South Asian culture still wedded to the concept of female infanticide. So imagine my surprise, reading research that suggest that the same may be case in the enlightened West. According to recent Gallup poll , 40% of Americans prefer to have son’s over daughters when asked if they could have only one child, which would they prefer. The rate of female infanticide in China does not seem so ludicrous now.

                What? Huh? What is the attraction of boys (from a parental sense that is – I am a heterosexual woman and I like men)? If you could have only one child, which gender would you pick? Would you pick at all?

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