During class today, I was struck by the ways in which gendering children is so pervasive in our society, even in messages that attempt to critique our strict gender binary. First of all, I was thinking about "William Wants a Doll" and how problematic I found it, despite the fact that William does eventually get his doll in the end. As brought up in class, I find it disturbing that preparing him for fatherhood is the justification for being able to have a doll. To me, that is such a ridiculous excuse, as he is not permitted to just have one because he wants one, and I hardly feel the taunting of his peers will die down if he informs them, "Don't worry guys, I'm practicing for fatherhood." If anything, I feel that reason will be further reason to mock the poor kid. I also must argue that, as a female who grew up with her fair share of dolls in a family of all daughters, dolls taught me nothing about parenting. To me, dolls were just more toys. I lost them, cut their hair, drew on them with markers, they received no delicate treatment from me simply because they were babies. I could simply lack motherly instincts, or it could also be attributed to the fact that I always just had dolls. As the youngest of three girls, they were just there. I never had to ask for one, with the intention of playing with it with extreme care in the way that William did.
But I digress; the actual intention of this post was to discuss a comment that came up towards the end of class. I was intrigued with the idea of baby showers and the ways in which children are gendered while still in the womb. I immediately thought of the old myth (that many people still swear by) that pregnant women carry boys differently than girls, most commonly the idea that boys are carried lower in the stomach than girls. So, I find it ridiculous that we are a culture so obsessed with pointing out differences in males and females that we've concocted up how they supposedly inhabit their mothers' stomachs. This also made me think of a recent Kohl's commercial where a new mother is thankful that she purchased her baby items Kohl's because their return policy made it easy to return the blue items she purchased in anticipation of a "Daniel" instead of the "Danielle" she ended up with. It just seems crazy to me the ways in which a child's surroundings must be tailored differently depending upon their sex. I just fail to wrap my head around how almost institutionalized this system of gendering has become, despite our claims of valuing individuality.
The Kohl's commercial, for your viewing (dis)pleasure: