Gender preference in unborn children is a common thing. Most people seem to have some idea of whether they want a daughter or son, long before a baby is even on the way. I did. These days I wonder, how healthy is gender preference in unborn children?
It’s likely we’ve all heard these sentiments:
‘I want a son first so he can protect his little sisters.’
‘I want a boy because girls are too much trouble.’
‘I want a girl because boys are too boisterous.’
‘I want a girl/boy so we can do girly/boyish things together.’
Traditionally all of these sentiments implicitly assume our unborn children will be cisgender. This is potentially a murderous expectation placed on an unborn child, particularly if parents are ignorant in understanding that this may not be the case.
Meanwhile, the sentiments reflect views we have typically about cisgender people in society. One, for example, is that cisgender people apparently our society.Let’s briefly explore the sentiments and their place in context of society.
‘I want a son first so he can protect his little sisters.’ This statement suggests that girls need protection because they are either, a) weak, b) unintelligent/naive, or c) face threat. Take your pick, perhaps even C because A and B. The certainty is, the male is the ones charged with protecting. To clarify, charged with the protection of his own.
‘I don’t want a daughter, girls are more trouble.’ Needy, emotional, hysterical? She will hell raise and get herself into trouble. Or more naturally, more kindly, it will break our hearts to see her harmed. Alas, she is the trouble. We apparently expect to survey and nurture the female child disproportionately to the male child.
‘I want a girl because boys are too boisterous.’ For some, it is too much effort or perhaps even futile to attempt to pacify the male child; said to be boisterous by nature, competition and conflict-loving, irrespective of his individuality and environment.
‘I want a girl/boy so we can do girly/boyish things together.’ The general guideline seems to be, boys take part in competitive, active activities (wearing blue?). While girls the polar pink opposite like collaborative, passive actions.
Some of the collective implications of these common, widely accepted sentiments are as follows: The girl is deemed in need of protection, it implies that she has a lesser capacity. The inherently boisterous cis male is charged with retaining her, apparently, he is born by default capable of handling himself and women respectively, since we collectively imply he will flourish with less emotional intervention and nurturing than the female child. General stereotypes regarding the ‘girly and boyish’ reinforce the aforementioned implications. Boys will be boys- apparently, that is boisterous, assertive, competitive by nature and therefore unaccountable for natural combative tendencies. We define this as a part of masculinity. Girls, on the other hand, will be placid, submissive, emotional and at least a little naive. Typical traits of what we call femininity. In recent years factions, society has been working hard to push back against these stereotypes due to their poisonous effects.
According to the World Health Association, there are three types of violence, Self Directed, Interpersonal and Collective, all are perpetrated by males at a higher rate.
Source: WHO Violence Injury Prevention
Statistics from the World Health Organization show a much higher male suicide rate. I encourage you to have a look at United Nations gender indicators. The statistics show the higher levels of domestic violence against women, as well as the disproportionate amount of male employers to female employers worldwide, the unbelievably low share women, have of government positions, the sky-high rates of women in unpaid domestic work, the shock that across the board women still carry a higher rate of total work burden.
The cis male is encouraged by society to indulge in conquest, with his supposed assertive, boisterous nature and predisposition to violence. He is conditioned to feel entitled to some degree of combative behaviour and to believe that to care for and reflect on his own emotional state is reductive of his masculinity. His suicide rates attest to him being a victim of his own toxic masculinity.
Patriarchy is systematically oppressing women and girls, in spite of them being ‘someone’s sister,’ or daughter, or mother, or grandmother. In fact, it is because women are viewed less as capable self-sufficient individuals and more as extensions of the male’s conquest that oppression against them is overlooked.
When we make common statements about gender preference in unborn children, it is likely that sometimes we are subconsciously reflecting what we know to already be true about society onto our unborn children, rather than being the first cause of society’s problems. Nevertheless, it seems plausible then, that we should aim to be especially mindful towards internalised misogyny and toxic masculinity when it comes to our ideas of gender preferences of our unborn children. Otherwise, we run the risk of perpetuating ideals that constitute to current social unrest.