Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Has it Been 125,000 Years Yet?*

Don't tell me you want to know the gender of your unborn baby so you can decorate the nursery appropriately. The baby won't give a fuck what color the walls or blankets are. Don't tell me it's for ease in picking a name. If you're under 45, you'll end up saddling your kid with some awful, insipid moniker like RainForest, or PumaScat. Believe me, no amount of research or information about the gender of your baby will keep you from inflicting the contrivance of a "unique name" on your child and the world.

And please, don't tell me you're taking the test so that you can bond with your baby as soon as possible. What's keeping you from bonding with it now?

You want to know if it's a boy. That's what parents always ask, either at the moment of birth or during a sonogram. "Is it a boy?" they inquire with hopeful, upward inflection. You parents, bragging about your great stores of unconditional love and masterful approach to child rearing are hypocrites. You've already stipulated that the child you will love must be your genetic, biological offspring. And that the child should be male.

Parents speak of their male children--born or unborn--in terms of all the things they can do. "It it's a boy, then he can play ball with his father. Or he can go fishing. Or he can be president. Or he can do this and that and the other..." They never talk about the more likely outcome of their precious sons becoming wife-beaters and rapists, bullies and terrorists, or at the very least, oafish louts who will not clean themselves.

...Or a girl, always spoken with a dejected, downward inflection, as if saying it too loudly might make it happen. "If it's a girl, I'll love her anyway." Or, "At least she's healthy." Have you heard that? The announcement of a female's arrival in this world is usually with a concilliatory tone, a "better luck next time" kind of sentiment can be heard in the news.

And what does one do with a daughter now that she's here, here being a country where female infanticide is frowned upon? Well, you dress her up. That's how parents console themselves. The non-male creature in their home becomes a human tie-rack. "Oh, I can put ribbons and bows and frills and makeup on her. And when she's older, a bridle and a bit and a harness."

But these gender tests are for family balancing, you'll tell me. And they're used in many cases when families already have boys and want a girl, you'll argue.

Bullshit. The mom may want a girl. After squeezing a bunch of sons and heirs and proper human beings out of her racked and worn body, she figures she's earned a girl. Someone like her, to objectify and help with the dishes and clean up after the boys. That is the only way a girl comes into this world wanted. Not because of all the things she could be, or accomplish, but because she'll smile and help and look pretty in frills and flounce. There's already a boy to carry on the family name--let mom have her girl, her pet.

I was a pet. I was named like a pet. My younger brother was named after my father and my mother's father: Joseph Martin. I got a name that "just went well with St. Onge" my mom told me. Cindy Sue. Do you know how many people tell me, after meeting me the first time, "I had a dog named Cindy!"

No, it's not short for Cynthia. I had always wished it was. But it's just Cindy. A name with no expectations, no history, nothing to live up to. Our toy poodle's name was Suzette. I used to think I received my middle name from her, and when I was little, that was fine, because I loved Suzie. As I grew older, I became jealous that the poodle acutally had a full name, but I had the diminuitive pet form, of Cynthia and Suzette.

I know what parents think of daughters. Don't tell me you can't possibly wrap your little manchild in a pink blanket, and that's why you need to find out-- if it's a boy!

Or a girl.

*Please see this post to find out what's wrong with the Y chromosome!


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