Parents keep child's gender secret

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Parents keep child's gender secret

#1  Postby Latimeria » May 26, 2011 1:58 am

“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.

“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker.

When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).”

Their announcement was met with stony silence. Then the deluge of criticisms began. Not just about Storm, but about how they were parenting their other two children.



Full story: http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/babi ... r-a-secret
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#2  Postby XiledSpawn » May 26, 2011 2:09 am

Bookmarking for after work.
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I don't see anything wrong with what the parents are doing.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#3  Postby Juliuseizure » May 26, 2011 2:09 am

Oh boy. I mean girl... :doh:
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#4  Postby Latimeria » May 26, 2011 2:20 am

I've seen plenty of literature and experiments about the differential treatment and conditioning of children based on their gender. I've never seen anything about parents making a decision quite like this, though, so I'm curious to see what the folks here make of it.
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[1] - theropod. Parsimony of the Miraculous. RatSkep Peanut Gallery Press, 2011.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#5  Postby james1v » May 26, 2011 2:26 am

The problem i have with social experiments like this, is that the child cannot consent. :think:
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#6  Postby natselrox » May 26, 2011 4:48 am

Aha! This is nothing like the John/Joan or the Bruce/Brenda case... Sounds interesting but I somehow doubt that we'll know anything new from it...
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#7  Postby Latimeria » May 26, 2011 5:04 am

james1v wrote:The problem i have with social experiments like this, is that the child cannot consent. :think:


A good point. But in a sense, social experimentation is an inevitable aspect of parenting, it's just a question of how radical your experiment is. Even if there were a well-defined gold standard in a culture for exactly what decisions parents should make in any given case, deviating from that standard is not inherently a bad idea, and a young child can't really ever provide an ideal endorsement through informed consent. I'm still reserving judgment in this case while mulling over the social complexities... :think:

I wouldn't mind watching some passionate disagreement develop to help think this one out. Come on people, do what you do best and argue about shit! :dopey:

natselrox wrote:
Sounds interesting but I somehow doubt that we'll know anything new from it...

Why do you say that? Too small a sample size to account for other factors? The treatment of these children by others in society would skew their developmental outcomes and leave researchers unable to separate the merits of the parents' fundamental strategic ideals from the effects of prejudiced treatment and social awkwardness encountered in the rest of their environment?
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#8  Postby natselrox » May 26, 2011 5:15 am

Latimeria wrote:
natselrox wrote:
Sounds interesting but I somehow doubt that we'll know anything new from it...

Why do you say that? Too small a sample size to account for other factors? The treatment of these children by others in society would skew their developmental outcomes and leave researchers unable to separate the merits of the parents' fundamental strategic ideals from the effects of prejudiced treatment and social awkwardness encountered in the rest of their environment?


A bit of both. The external influences and small sample size would make it hard to make any conclusion, I guess.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#9  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » May 26, 2011 5:18 am

Unless the parents aren't teaching their child about body parts, the kid will know their sex at a very young age and can out themselves at any time. The likelihood this will last beyond infancy is minimal.

The parents are simply ensuring that, for the first part of the child's life, they're not treated in a specific matter based on their assumed gender.

I'd be more worried about the kid being named "Storm" than their sex and assumed gender being kept private.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#10  Postby natselrox » May 26, 2011 5:24 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:I'd be more worried about the kid being named "Storm" than their sex and assumed gender being kept private.


Maybe the parents haven't heard of Tim Minchin... :lol:
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#11  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » May 26, 2011 5:26 am

I hope they didn't name the kid because they admire Tim Minchin's character!
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#12  Postby Fenrir » May 26, 2011 5:26 am

Depends on how the parents respond to input from the child and how hard the parents try to suppress the child's own discovery of gender. Do you provide toys or games which are chosen preferentially by both genders or no toys or games which can be seen as gender oriented?

I'm not saying girls should be given dolls and boys cars, but kids often express firm opinions on which objects they want to interact with, and you can see gender roles is some of it. I could never stop my son from finding and carrying sticks, a behaviour I haven't seen with girls.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#13  Postby Latimeria » May 26, 2011 5:31 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:Unless the parents aren't teaching their child about body parts, the kid will know their sex at a very young age and can out themselves at any time. The likelihood this will last beyond infancy is minimal.

True. I'd have to look at it again, but I'm not sure if the parents are planning to encourage Storm to consider it a secret as well. It would probably become biologically obvious eventually, unless the kid has particularly androgenous features or artificially alters them to maintain ambiguity or lead others to the wrong conclusion.

I'd be more worried about the kid being named "Storm" than their sex and assumed gender being kept private.


:lol:
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#14  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » May 26, 2011 5:36 am

It will definitely become obvious what sex the kid is at some point. Aside from genitalia, all small children look the same though and can pass for either sex. The thing is lots of kids go through stages at young ages where you cannot keep clothing on them. If Storm goes through that at three or four their sex will be revealed to all.

I'm pretty sure every child who plays outdoors finds and carries sticks. None of the children I grew up with didn't. We were all free range kids who spent most of our time outdoors. Other than our parents, it was very unlikely anyone could tell which of us were boys or girls when we were that little by appearance or behaviour.

The parents said they weren't revealing the kid's sex and assumed gender because they believe it would impose the limitations of assigned gender roles. They're calling it "a tribute to freedom". That doesn't sound like they're depriving the child of opportunity to discover their gender to me. They're not assigning gender fluidity to the kid and depriving them of anything associated with one gender or the other. They're just letting the kid figure things out on their own without the limitations imposed by gender assignment.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#15  Postby Agrippina » May 26, 2011 6:46 am

I'm also more concerned about the kid's name. FFS who names their bloody kid "Storm." By default it is thought to be a girl's name and then if the kid is a boy, he will be teased by his classmates the minute he arrives at school.

By the time the kid is two years old it will identify with the parent of the same sex anyway. He definitely looks like a boy to me, but these days, who the hell cares? A kid is a kid.

My kids are raising their children, well, will be, to be ambisexual, (if that's a word) as I did. I didn't deliberately dress them in blue, I merely bought blue when they were babies because of their blue eyes. When they were older, I let them choose the colour of their clothes and mostly they went with the colours they still prefer today. By the time they were in the middle of their second year, they chose "boy" toys for themselves although they did play with "he-men" and when She-ra arrived, they got all "nooooooo" when I dressed her up in a pretty pink frock and told them they were playing with dolls. The dress got ceremoniously ripped off to show off her super-hero suit underneath. (I stole it later and kept the pink dress to torment them when they got older. Then one of them took her from me and again, the pink dress was ripped off).

I taught mine to cook, clean and tidy up as well as fix, mend and garden. That's all you need to do to make them grow up to be self-sufficient. My younger d-i-l was raised the same way, she loves rugby and motorcycles and hates wearing dresses, never played with dolls but if her baby is a girl, she'll be allowed to have dolls if she chooses them.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#16  Postby Mike_L » May 26, 2011 7:37 am

Found myself thinking of this atrocious movie....

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....which scores a user-rating of 2.4 at IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110169/
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#17  Postby Agrippina » May 26, 2011 7:39 am

Is it child-bearing or ball-bearing?
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#18  Postby amok » May 26, 2011 5:29 pm

Agrippina wrote:I'm also more concerned about the kid's name. FFS who names their bloody kid "Storm." By default it is thought to be a girl's name and then if the kid is a boy, he will be teased by his classmates the minute he arrives at school.


Hm. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I'd never think "Storm" would by default be a girl's name. In fact, to me it vaguely conjures an image of a fake name for a movie stuntman or wrestler or something.

Anyway, when I first read this story I thought it would provoke disapproval for such reasons as "the child can't consent to the experiment" and the risk of it growing up without a sense of "self" and whatnot (some of that is mentioned in the story). But if we're logical about it, none of us "consent" to the way we're raised, and plenty of people raised in the most "traditional" ways of any culture are severely messed up. So neither of those arguments are valid, in my opinion.

I was raised in sort of a mish-mash way, when it comes to gender identity. I was dressed as a girl, mostly, and always liked that (and still do). But I was never pushed toward (or gravitated to) any other "girly" things such toys or even types of play. Dolls? Ick. I wanted stuffed animals. Play house? Are you kidding me? Let's play explorer or detective (a la Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys)! But I wasn't a "tomboy" either, also lacking the "traditional" male attributes of competitiveness/aggressiveness.

It did make for a bit confusion in the early teen years, trying to figure out where I fit in in the world of women and men, but in retrospect I think I had it easier than many of my friends who were more confined to one or the other. When I think of the turmoil so many teens go through, it makes my skin crawl. I just decided I was a bit different, and carried on from there. I've had a very happy life, so far.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#19  Postby Agrippina » May 26, 2011 5:34 pm

In SA it's definitely a girl's name.
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Re: Parents keep child's gender secret

#20  Postby Beatsong » May 27, 2011 10:26 pm

amok wrote:Anyway, when I first read this story I thought it would provoke disapproval for such reasons as "the child can't consent to the experiment" and the risk of it growing up without a sense of "self" and whatnot (some of that is mentioned in the story). But if we're logical about it, none of us "consent" to the way we're raised, and plenty of people raised in the most "traditional" ways of any culture are severely messed up. So neither of those arguments are valid, in my opinion.


+1.

I say good on 'em. Enforced gender identity is bollox, and the sooner it's disposed of the better. When you think about it, how often do you actually need to know what genitalia the people you mix with or work with in society have?

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