Monday, April 14, 2008

Ultrasound and Ultragendered

We had the ultrasound today. The kid was mostly in some sort of yoga pose with its knees tucked nicely against its forehead. Here's a first look at the fetus with some explanation just below...
This first shot is of the face. R thinks it looks like me.
The second is a split screen of the feet. It appears all the toes are there, but I can't tell if they're webbed. One can only dream that his kid will grow up to be Aquaman (or possibly Mera).
The third is a picture of the hand just in front of the face. R thinks she feels the kid moving the hand back and forth from its face.

We purposely didn't ask for the sex (and the gender will be determined much, much later than that), but that's w
hat everyone wants to know. Why is that? Does it even matter?

I recently realized why it sort of matters to me. I mean, it doesn't really matter to me. I'll love and care for the kid regardless of sex or gender, but it does seem that one sex has to deal with the limitations of its perceived gender more so than the other. Girls have that glass ceiling and have to deal with the whole Madonna/whore complex, but boys have very limited options. Where girls have seen more opportunities to be themselves thanks to the successes of feminism, boys are limited to aggression and stoicism. I'd much rather deal with a girl who questions and and challenges social conventions than a boy who broods or sulks when things don't go his way. Maybe I'm overgeneralizing, but that's what I do.

Back to what made me come to this realization...

We drove to KC so that R could get her hair cut and styled and whatever. (We've tried to find a place in COMO but have had no luck. R goes to KC; I go to Cost Cutters.) While R entered the salon, I stayed in the car to finish a sandwich. I later joined her with the expectation of reading a baby book or some magazines.

When I entered the salon, I found the hairdresser's daughter, Chyna, sitting in the waiting area looking rather bored. She smiled. I said "hello".

Having worked with kids for 15 years I quickly struck up a conversation with Chyna about school, math in particular. That was all we needed to get us started. We talked about all kinds of things for a couple of hours.

This second-grader was smart, funny, and so assured of herself. She could figure out complex math problems in her head and got most of my jokes. She was able to outsmart me on a couple of mind-bending games I used to use with my students. She was a lot of fun.

Chyna's mom was convinced that all this attention from a very talkative, opinionated little girl would make me want a son. However, it had the opposite effect. I woke up the next morning feeling like I wanted a daughter.

Like I said before, I don't care wheth
er we have a son or daughter, but this experience made me realize my longing to raise a girl. I don't know that I could have the same relationship with a boy like I have with girls. It's not just me; it's also the way boys are treated that makes them respond to love, conflict, etc. differently from girls. Girls have been allowed (to some degree) to both express their emotions and be assertive. On the other hand, boys are still expected to keep their emotions in check while staying assertive.

How do I know this? Well, besides those years working with kids, I have noticed other disturbing trends in our society. The fact that men still commit an overwhelming majority of the violent acts against women and other men tells me that they have been ill-equipped to handle stress and their emotions within the constructs of their gender roles. Every year, the college graduation rates for young men drops while women become more and more accomplished academically. While this could be partially due to education playing a larger role in girls' lives than in past eras, it is also due to boys' disinterest in academic achievement. After the age of nine, suicide rates for boys far out pace that of girls. The evidence stacks up against boys drastically.

Chyna shared with me on Saturday that she saw girls as having way more potential of landing good careers as boys, citing her parents as prime examples. Her mother owned her own salon, while her dad was currently jobless. I realize I don't know the whole story, but these were the perceptions of an eight-year-old.

I have lesbian friends who want their son to have a relationship with me so that he has a good male role-model. It seems that most of the men he sees are the mailman and garbage collectors, while he is surrounded by professional women with advanced degrees. There's nothing wrong with these discrepancies except that the boy is provided very few examples to balance his perspective.

I have gone on way longer than I intended to on this topic, but that's where I am right now.

So, back to this morning's ultrasound: we asked to not to have them reveal the sex of the fetus. It doesn't really matter whether we have a boy or girl. The kid will be loved no matter what. I just kind of hope it has a chance to be himself or herself, whatever the case may be.


Anonymous said...

Looks like things are going well with the pregnancy, good.

The topic of the construction of what it is to be a male in society is an interesting one. Men are constantly ridiculed as a whole for their aggression and other macho-esque traits, but many forget about the men who don't want to fit into this but are in many cases forced to.

Having a boy, though, would give you an opportunity to try to alleviate that issue.

comoprozac said...

Yeah, I realize this. My problem is with how everyone else will treat my kid.

I have similar fears with a girl, but I feel like we are at a place where girls have more identity options than boys. Maybe the real problem is in the ideas of femininity and masculinity.

I dunno. this is really too big for one blog post.

Lauren Kilberg said...

Congratulations! How excited you and R must be! I laughed (out loud) at your comments regarding the ultrasound pictures. Really, who wouldn't want their kid to be Aquaman. Ha Ha. Someone should collect ultrasound photo comments from expecting mothers and fathers and publish a book. I imagine it could be entertaining.

crmarty said...

Boy or girl, it is all fun and they turn into these little people. Both my kids are so different. I don't think it is a boy girl thing. Maybe a first born, second born thing. It is a wild trip! So get ready to buckle up and ang and I have already started planning the shower!

comoprozac said...

The shower?

Mom said...

Relax and enjoy!

Pizza Cottontail said...

I think I might've mentioned this before, but you want a girl.

comoprozac said...

I think you did mention it, but it's worth repeating.

jenny said...

There are worse things in life than a girly girl or macho boy. I don't want V to grow up to be a cheerleader or sorority girl . . . but, of course, I didn't want to be those things.

Basically, I just don't want a kid who is an asshole. I don't want my kid to be mean, cruel, unthoughtful, unreflective, selfish, or shortsighted. It's possible that she could be totally gender stereotyped and still not an asshole. And vice versa. I know plenty of "progressive" types that are total assholes.

Anyway, just some thoughts. We'll go ahead and buy pink stuff anyway. :)

comoprozac said...

Yes, no assholes. Excellent point.