Meet Pop, the 2-year-old who doesn’t know whether s/he is a boy or a girl. Presumably her/his parents (and anyone else who has changed his/her diaper) know, but they’re not telling. They want their child to be as free from gender socialization as possible. (Read the whole story here.)
This reminds me of a story I read for one of my Women’s Studies courses: “X: A Fabulous Child’s Story.” Written in 1972 by Lois Gould, it reads like science fiction. But here is a real-life example of the same “experiment.”
One thing I think is interesting is that Pop and her/his parents live in Sweden, one of the few places on earth that has generous paid new baby leave for both mothers and fathers. Sweden is also, perhaps not coincidentally, the country whose men are considered to be the best husbands (according to a study by Oxford University economist Almudena Sevilla-Sanz).
It could be that this attempt to raise a child who is not sex-typed will be successful in Sweden, but wouldn’t go over quite as well in the United States, let alone other less-enlightened countries. (Read about the fatwa against tomboys in Malaysia.) Then again, by what criteria would it be considered successful?
The reactions to Pop’s situation range from “it will scar the kid for life” to “it can make the child freer, stronger and more individualistic.” What do you think?
For a follow-up to this post, see “Genderless Child-Rearing II.”
[Not surprisingly, psychologist/author Susan Pinker thinks it’s a terrible idea. See last week’s Tuesday Tidbits for information about Pinker, her views and her book, The Sexual Paradox.]