Friday, July 01, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

I was profoundly touched when I was watching "Babe: The Gallant Pig" and the little pig was explaining that his mother called all his brothers and sisters the same. That's how he got his name. That's also how my mother worked. Oh, we all had our own individual names, but we knew that there were no favorites. As much as we three boys might have tried to discover a decimal here or there, a gram or a particle shaded one way or another, we were confronted with the blank and overwhelming fairness of it all. Birthdays, Christmas, special events, my parents made it even across the board. I am sure that it took effort on their part, but it never really occurred to me how much until just recently.
A Gallup poll taken last month tells us that Americans prefer baby boys to baby girls. Forty percent preferred boys, twenty-eight for the girls, and the rest did what I would have thought was the "correct" response and had no opinion. Most of the difference is driven by men, who prefer boys to girls by a two to one margin, with women split pretty equally between boys, girls or no preference. It does pain me a little to think of those delivery rooms with disappointed dads: "Darn! I was hoping for a son!"
But why should it matter at all? Perhaps because we men have the need to carry on the bloodline, the name the family crest. Or maybe we have limited imaginations, and can't comprehend dealing with a being from some other gender. What would we have to talk about? Scary.
Or you could send your kids to Stockholm for preschool. At "Egalia," there is no "him" or "her." There are just thirty-three "friends." There are those who suggest that these kids will be set loose in a Kindergarten that won't have these same gender-free guidelines and they will be confused or crushed underneath the cold, hard world's expectations. Or maybe they will grow up believing that they really are all the same. Maybe my mom was Swedish.

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