What’s Sex Got To Do With It?
A couple recently made headlines for deciding to raise their child, “Storm”, without gender. They are refusing to tell anyone whether Storm is a boy or girl in order to try and give Storm the freedom to become his or her own person, without the confines of gender expectations. I empathize with their controversial effort. Products of a gender-segregated religious community, and disgusted with the gender projections of American culture, my husband and I both believe it’s important to raise our child with access to opportunities and proclivities that our society generally restricts to one sex or another. If we have a girl, will encourage her to play with blocks as well as dolls. If we have a boy, we’d never chide him, “big boys don’t cry”.
Yesterday, I had an anatomy sonogram, checking the our baby is developing well, and revealing its sex. I’ve been sure all along that it’s a boy, but I was eager for the confirmation. “Here’s the brain,” the tech showed me. “The chest… the heart… the arms… the hands… the thigh bones… the feet.” I waited anxiously to hear the final identification. “See those three lines?” she asked. “It’s a girl.”
Tears of happiness came to my eyes. I would have been thrilled if it was a boy too, the happiness was knowing a piece of this child, meeting them in some way.
I went and had breakfast at a nearby diner, processing the news. A girl. A heavy feeling of responsibility settled on my shoulders as I forked pieces of omelet into my mouth. I’m going to be responsible for raising a girl. Somehow, in my brain, taking a boy, a member of the culturally dominant sex and teaching him to be more sensitive and aware then society generally demands seems an easier task then taking a girl and teaching her to be bigger and stronger and reach beyond the expectations of her culture.
A hundred school children marched past the diner window and I watched the little girls. Some were chubby, some thin, some cheerful, some sullen, some shy, some exuberant. She can be anyone, I thought, savoring the idea. She won’t grow up with as many boundaries to break as I did. She can be anyone at all.
I smiled envisioning her.
That night, I was in the middle of a vivid dream, when a cry shocked me to totally wakefulness. I froze and strained my ears, wondering if I had actually heard something, or if it had been just a dream. A moment later, the sound came again.
It was a woman crying out.
“Help!” she screamed.
I leapt to my feet and ran to the window. The alleys outside our apartment were dark and I couldn’t see anyone in the patches of black that extended alongside stores and buildings at the edges of my view.
“Please, won’t somebody help?!” the woman cried.
Heart beating hard, I grabbed my phone and dialed 911.
The police came. They hadn’t found her they told me, but they were going to continue to look. I stood at the door, wrapped in my robe, and gave them my information. “As a woman,” I had to tell the officer, “you can’t ignore another woman’s cries for help.”
I went back to sleep after they had left. The black night and the noises outside left me scared and vulnerable to the bogeymen of darkness that can invade the layers of the tired mind.
The baby kicked and poked at my stomach. She’s a girl, I thought, with a sinking heart. My baby is the same sex as that woman crying for help, the same sex as a thousand women around the planet crying out for help tonight.Printable Version