I was messaged and asked to discuss gender disappointment and today feels the right day to do that.
Before I got pregnant, I had always said how much I would love to have sons. As soon as I got that positive result I just knew that meant I’d have a girl. I wasn’t disappointed. My wanting boys had more to do with loving robots, dinosaurs and Star Wars. But I’m female and I like those things so there is no reason Matilda can’t.
I worried for ages that Karl was harbouring disappointment at not having a son but he has never told me if he did. But gender disappointment is very common and very taboo. You are not meant to be anything less than grateful. I say screw that. It’s an emotional response you have no control over and certainly doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby or will be a bad parent. The way I see it it’s like a nervous fart. I have always farted when I was nervous. It might make other people uncomfortable and me a little embarrassed but I can’t help it! And it’s all over with fairly quickly!
When I think about having a little girl at the minute it’s (quite literally) rainbows, butterflies and unicorns. And some seriously cute clothes. However, Matilda will one day become a woman. This scares the heck out of me.
In a world where comment sections on a rape article can include “well what did she think would happen going dressed like that?” I have to sadly prepare her for how explicitly she has to say ‘no’.
She will grow up in a Britain that has been ranked 11th out of 18 countries in terms of pay equality between men and women. Where only just over a quarter of board members are women. (source).
She will grow up in a world where it’s OK to be topless on a beach in France but please don’t dare wear a ‘burkhini’. Where boobs out is fine as long as you aren’t breastfeeding (because that of course would make people feel uncomfortable). A world where a person being tried for rape will openly state that they thought she wanted it because of how she was dressed.
She lives in a world where childhood stereotyping is rife. Where cute baby boys will “break some hearts”. Where boys are big and strong and girls are pretty. A world where revenge porn is freely uploaded online. Actually porn itself has become far more readily available and extreme. Generally (but not exclusively) degrading toward women. A study showing that of the 50 most popular pornographic videos -88% of scenes included physical aggression. 94% of those physically aggressive acts (including gagging and choking) were aimed at women. (source)
Mainstream media peddle idyllic lifestyles and blemish free (read: photoshopped) women thus feeding into any self perceived flaws. Where women can be “slut-shamed” and men tipped as “legends”.
When I think of these things I feel desperately sad. But. We have an opportunity to raise young women to be who they want. To achieve anything. To be as good as any man. Some of the strongest people I know are women. I’ve recently heard some female friends stories of overcoming adversity and become strong, fabulous women. The strength of character of these women is inspiring.
In light of the Olympics, I hope Matilda grows up to consider women like Laura Trott a role model. Team GB’S greatest ever female Olympian at only 24. My kind of hero. Or how about Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui who spoke about her period and competing (source) and facing a barrage of abuse online for being ‘unhygienic’. Give no shits Fu Yuanhui. You absolute legend.
I think the Spice Girls had it right after all.