Elle has an interesting article about a disturbing trend among soon-to-be parents. This trend is called "gender Disappointment" and has to do with mothers being unhappy with the gender of their children to the point of severe depression and fantasies of giving up for adoption the children with "the wrong gender." For the most part, the preferred gender that these mothers strive for in a variety of truly weird ways is female. They want to have a daughter at any cost and feel very disappointed when a son gets born instead.
Some of the methods these women use to conceive a baby of the "right gender" are truly outlandish. Just think of the level of desperation one has to achieve to turn her sex life into the following freak show: “Have your [partner] give you a ‘sample.’ Catch it in a cup or condom. Add warm lime. Do not warm lime in microwave—warm in hot sink. Then layer egg white (with a pH of 9 to 9.9) on top. You then incubate it for an hour…and insert it into yourself with medical syringe. Lay with hips raised.”
Elle's explanation for this trend is, of course, informed by the ruling patriarchal culture: these women prefer to give birth to little girls because female lives are so much easier than male: "Women envision a brighter future for their daughters than they do for their sons. Boys are practically the underdogs these days, having fallen behind girls on nearly every measure of academic achievement, from college attendance to high school graduation rates. According to books such as The War Against Boys and Boys Adrift, they are in danger of becoming, as Christina Hoff Sommers has written, “tomorrow’s second sex." Of course, they have to quote the completely insane Hoff Sommers on that because no reasonable individual could support this weird point of view. What mother can possibly envision "a brighter future" for her daughter when we still suffer from pay inequity, violence against women, the culture of rape, etc. is beyond my comprehension.
The real reason for this trend is hinted upon by the language used by these gender-frustrated mothers. This is what one of these obssessed women says: “Taking her to ballet class. Painting her nails with pastel glitter. It will make me feel complete, without a doubt.” This is another one's fantasy: “I didn’t buy the boy anything,” she says. Instead she stocked up on pink paraphernalia for her daughter, already named Cassandra. “I bought her jewelry and a little bracelet with her name on it. I was planning her first Halloween. She was going to be a little ballerina.” What they miss about having a daughter is buying cute pink clothes and turning tem into cute little ballerinas. And that's pretty much it. It's easier to see a little girl as a cuddly little toy. If you have a son, sooner or later you will have to recognize that this is actually a human being. A girl, however, is not accorded as much independence and as much personality as a boy by our patriarchal society. So these mothers keep going to incredible lengths to produce a girl-toy for themselves.
Often, these gender-obssessed women get their dream daughter and, of course, become disappointed in the whole experience: "In the end, my expectations of what it would be like to mother a daughter were not fully realized.” Eliza and Jamisyn don’t like to play with dolls, don’t enjoy ballet. “Neither is really frilly,” Lewis laments. “They don’t want to do the things my mother and I did. I have to shake myself and say: You got what you wanted. So why do I feel this longing still?” In the meantime, Lewis is trying to accept her daughters as they are. “I’ve tried not to take it out on them, but there have been pangs of anger, of disappointment, pangs of, I went through all this, and now you’re not cooperating? Didn’t you read the instruction booklet on how to be a daughter?” Imagine what this poor woman went through when she discovered that in spite of being female, her children are actually human beings, not gender stereotypes.
** Thank you, Marina, for bringing this to my attention!