On Having A Girl

It is Monday and I am not at work and do not yet have a baby.

We are likely to have a girl-baby. Can never be sure: sister of my office-buddy was expecting a girl, but last week got a boy. Still, my brain is mostly pointing towards girl, and that – that! It has given me cause to ponder. And ponder’d I thus: it makes me glad that I know so many amazing women.

Like, for serious, I know some *amazing* women. Doing incredible stuff, selfless stuff, high-powered high-achievement stuff, visionary stuff, good friend stuff, generous soul stuff. Stuff in all directions. Women who make me collapse with laughter. Women who walk up to dumbness and kick it in the gonads. And, not least, women gone through tough times & come out firing on all cylinders.

(Needless to say my Cal is all over these. Women in my family also strongly feature, yo.)

I am thankful for the privilege of knowing all these people, and being shaped by them, and seeing the world around me get shaped by them too. Because it reminds me that the bad is not insurmountable. That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about over the last few months: the bad. Frex: the gender-coded socialization that doesn’t even bother to hide itself and will engulf the wee beastie in body-anxiety and social submission; I hope that the tools we give our daughter (if we do get a daughter) will help her not to breathe it all in.

Except hope isn’t the right word. Because of all these people I know, and because of the way I was brought up, and because I’m not doing this alone, I am confident she won’t breathe it all in. Hell, she might find a way to dodge the flood entirely.

We can do this stuff more-or-less right. I am surrounded by examples of doing it right, after all. And yes, I know they fcuk you up your mum and dad, but: it is my heartfelt intention to fcuk my little girl up in ways that run counter to the ways society at large is trying to fcuk her up. Society doesn’t need the extra help. (And besides, I’m a psychology nerd, and everyone knows psych-heads have a lock on finding new and unique ways to mess up our children.)

So what am I worried about? Like all these women I know, like her grandmothers and aunties, and like her mum, she’s gonna be awesome.

Unless she turns out to be a he. In which case, y’know, all bets are off.

Prompt for this post was Simon C linking to this TED talk about growing up as a man. “My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.” Strong stuff.

Also: paying tribute to women by no means diminishes the many men I know who are also awesome. Particularly the dads of daughters who are making a bloody good go of it. Nice one dads, I am taking notes.

14 thoughts on “On Having A Girl”

  1. So full of Yay. Thinking of you and Cal everyday and remembering us a year ago. Sweets will amaze you when you see her thinking that in a year, your bump will be doing (approximately) all the stuff she is doing 🙂


    Also, I have a present for you/ the baby.

    Also, also, I will make Cal lactation cookies when the bub comes. You will want to steal some because they are delicious oat choc chip cookies and that is ok too.

  2. Yay! I have faith (yeh I believe in some things) that you will be fantastic parents to any child… and raise (a) kind, community-minded, intelligent interesting and capable adult(s) of whatever gender. Thinking of you and anticipating the awesome!

    N.B. The body image and socialisation stuff is *hard*. Don’t beat yourselves up when she picks it up from somewhere…

  3. Yeah, I have abundant faith too.

    Tools + not beating yourself up re: the body image yang sounds very wise combo. I went to lunch with family last week and had a niece and nephew there. I counted the number of times my nephew and niece got comments about how they looked from uncles, aunts, grandparents. Nephew got zero, niece plenty.

    Not that it was any surprise, but it was interesting to think about from a parent’s perspective for the first time – if my sister or her hubby and wanted to do *something* what would it have been?

  4. Harry Ricketts’s Footnote to Larkin:

    Some people seem to forget that a child is a person right from birth, and that a person is themselves no matter what. So while your daughter (or son) will be under your care and their wellbeing will be your responsibility, they won’t be made of modelling clay.

    You know this already, of course. I can’t think of anyone I know who I think would make better parents than you & Cal, and I know some damned good parents.

  5. Go X chromosomes, go!!

    Round our part of the jungle it’s been all boys. Boys, boys, boys. What we need is a good war ™ et cetera.

    I’m all for more girl babies, particularly ones with such obviously smart and talented parents. Jet Junior also needs some inspirational women of his generation to look askance at and measure himself up to.

  6. Thanks all y’all. And Michael, re: your hypothetical of what could be done – I am as clueless as you. Modelling different behaviour, maybe?

  7. Dude, you rule! I hereby make you an honorary Wilder Woman. You may not know what that is, but trust me – it is awesomeness. And your baby girl is bound to be a Wilder Woman – it’s in her genes.

  8. Gem: *totally* honoured. (And: if my little girl grows up into a Real Hot Bitch? That would be awesome.)

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