From Gender Neutral to Gender Specific

A longitudinal study in 1990’s England looked at toy choice and childhood behaviour as a predictor of sexuality. You can read about the study here.

There has been discussion about the trans movement, in part, being homophobic. The transitioning to the sex that your behaviour more typically represents has been motivated, by some, as a ‘cure’ for homosexuality.

As a parent, of 11 years, I have seen a shift from ‘gender neutral’ to ‘gender-focused’:

The ‘gender neutral’ phase – this was the idea that toys were not gendered, and that providing a variety and trying not to encourage a particular choice was akin to good parenting. This also included clothing. This did, interestingly, have a leaning towards ‘masculine’, in the same way that second wave feminism leaned toward this. Feminine was still seen as a weak choice, or less bold, or restrictive. Any domestic-related toy was considered inferior. Chores still need to be done, and childhood is a great place to skill up regardless of sex. But the domestic is devalued, and still strongly linked to feminine. I felt that this phase was about raising corporate futurists: the hope being they would earn so much money that could outsource the domestic (and feminine) aspects of life (such as housework, daily cooking, shopping and childcare). Some took this idea to the point of not revealing the sex of their child in order to avoid external influences. It is well known that we have bias when it comes to typical sex behaviours. I noticed this in the colours I dressed my bald baby in. If my baby was in blue (which was often, as I like blue), people would say “you’ll break hearts”, “Aren’t you a strong little thing”, and “You look very smart!”. If, however, I put my baby in not-blue, the commentary was very gentle and soft, sweet and pretty. The assumptions that went with this colour based bias was a blue baby was a boy, and the ‘other’ was a girl. Even though blue was once considered feminine, and pink masculine, the current bias was universal and unconscious. It was a fascinating social observation. I tried very hard to speak to all babies with an awareness of my bias. I tried to acknowledge the intelligence of all of them, their babbles got a “tell me more, you know so much!” or “that is very interesting”…

The ‘gender-focused’ phase, lead by the trans movement seemed to replace this very quickly…maybe this was an illusion on my part (being busy doing parenting, time takes on a different rhythm). Suddenly, ‘gender’ was all that mattered, and the biology (sex) was the problem. It was considered best to medically alter a child to align with ‘gender’ rather than support an individual’s natural development. To question this thinking makes you a bigot or a TERF. It was like waking up in the twilight zone!

The gender-focus seems to unnecessarily complicate life, it is very political and makes for a wonderful distraction from more serious issues facing humanity (like climate change and refugees). It seems this gender-focused phase, has a parallel evolution with the selfie, social media,  and the rise in narcissism.

The loud voices of the social media ‘influencers’ seem to be the voices of ‘me me me‘, these people do not use their platform to promote anything other than themselves.

I am reminded of the kind hearted passion of Adam Hills in his ‘Happyism’ show. In the show he tells the story of the time he met the Dalai Lama, who said: “You have a microphone, use it to say something”. (if you have not seen this show, from 2013, I encourage you to do so. #touchthefrog).

The ‘something’ referred to is not the self-focused shallowness the influencers say, but refers to things of depth and meaning.

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