Today, I did something I told myself I wasn’t going to. I read the comments to The NY Times article I was quoted in. (You can read it here.) There are some things I’m not 100% ok with the article, but I still stand behind being a part of it.
So, MOST the comments are horrible – but what do I expect? I LOVE to read comments on articles and it just adds to my dislike of people.
We chose “gender neutral” names because we didn’t want our kids to have common names (boring 😉 mine is REALLY unique, impossible to say or spell, and Elaines is .. well Elaine) so, our kids names are unique and not specific to a gender (although we learned K2s was after the fact). Multiple comments said we are selfish, and pretty much doing this for attention. How are we selfish when we want our kids to feel unique? Maybe you are selfish for wanting to name your kid something common and super gendered all because you don’t want them to be ridiculed in life. This tells you two things: 1. You are not willing to stand up and fight for/with your kids. You allow bullying to continue. 2. You are more concerned with appeasing the crowds and continuing to be the problem.
I’m not saying you as in the universal you, just to those commenting. If your child has a super gendered common name (like Elaine) I don’t hate you for it. I honestly don’t care.
Attention? What attention? Who is paying us or our kids any attention? We aren’t being “cool”. We aren’t being anything but parents. Someone approached me (I didn’t go seeking this author) and asked me for some quotes because of my kids names. I didn’t get to tell him what to write. I didn’t even get to see the article prior to publication! We like to educate people because we truly feel that knowledge is the key to a better world (whether I’m the one teaching or not).
More comments: how will people know what to refer them by or expect when seeing their name on paper? Umm, they should refer to them as their names. If you don’t know if to say Mr. Ms. or whatever, don’t say anything (now a days vocabulary is ever changing and you can say Mx!). Simple. I know that when someone calls me and says “is this so and so?” I say ” yeah, this is her”. Now you know my preferred pronouns. Simple!! And who to expect? You expect a freaking person! What does it matter what gender they are!! Unless you are specifically waiting for someone of a particular gender (for whatever odd reason) it doesn’t matter! And if you are being a victim of sexism, you don’t want to deal with them! If I don’t get a job because they were expecting a “man” I don’t want to work there! Shame on them! I for one will not stand for that!
Comment: why don’t the parents change their name? I love my name, it has been very problematic, but I wouldn’t change it. I have had people BUTCHER my name. I have had people mispell my name (who writes/says Yolanda when they see Yojana?!?!) I have had no problem with correcting them (most of the time they got it right away). And I want my kids to love their name too. I know many people that prefer going by a nickname, I don’t. So, if you are so worried about my kids name, if they have a problem with them, I’m sure they will use a nickname. Ultimately, I want them to feel connected and comfortable with their name. I know people who have changed their names because it wasn’t who they are, I know someone who has recently gone full circle with his name, and I want my kids to feel comfortable with their name too.
Comment: by being gender neutral you are telling them being a girl is wrong. Umm, no. You don’t know how I’m raising my kids because I say I don’t want them to have gender neutral names or conform to “female” only objects and perceptions. We are raising our kids to be strong people. But we are raising them to be strong women as well. We are not telling them they are not girls, we are not telling them being a girl is wrong (I love being a girl!), we are telling them THEY are great, WHO they are is great. Gender is not important when it comes to being a great person. Gender is not important with their clothing choices, toy choices etc. Gender is important when someone is being biased towards us because of our gender. What is it to you? Why do you care? You are inconvenienced because you don’t know how to refer to us? Then ask.
It’s great if my children relate to the gender assigned to them at birth!! I will teach them about dresses and make-up! My wife will teach them about sports and suits! If they don’t relate, and are not that gender, it is also great! I will still teach them about make-up and dresses! My wife will still teach them about sports and suits! They are our children. They get to choose who they are. We do not get to say what and who they are. We are here to support them and raise them to be great no matter what. We will fight with and for them. (Please don’t be a stripper. Mommy will still support you, but I won’t be that thrilled – maybe I can be your body guard/manager? No matter what, I won’t be embarrassed by you nor ashamed.)
Ok, my rage has left me for now. We have a long way to go, we have made great strides as people, but much still needs to be done. The only way to do it, is by evolving with times instead of trying to revert back.
And for those of you wondering, if we have another child assigned male at birth, we would still dress them in dresses and suits, still let them play with dolls and dinosaurs, we would still teach them to be strong and great people. And probably teach them to be great women (who we kidding, Elaine and I know how to be great women.) But seriously, we would teach them what it means to be great women so that they don’t become biased and sexist. We would also try to teach them to be great men ( I guess… 😉 )