I recently found my leisurely breakfast disrupted by an article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune titled “How to Buy a Daughter.” There are so many things about this I found disturbing. Growing up in a time when the cultural norm presumed couples wanted a son to carry on the family name, be able to take care of the financial needs of the family or to join dad in sports, I was surprised by what the research found. Apparently, 80% of sex-selection parents in the U.S. are opting for a daughter.
Growing up in a family of three girls, I often remember my mother sighing and saying about my father’s remoteness, “I wonder if he would have been different if he’d had a son.” When I think of gender selection, I think of the Chinese one child rule that caused many couples to abort female embryos or kill baby daughters, or males blaming their wives for not producing sons despite his sperm being the determining genetic factor.
Certainly times have changed, at least in this country, and there is much more gender blending in child raising where many females are involved with sports, compete financially with males, and do jobs once reserved for males. Conversely, males have more freedom to break gender stereotypes by becoming nurses, primary teachers, executive assistants, primary caregivers to their children or elders, and their masculinity isn’t questioned if they are not enamored with sports.
The typical couple opting for a girl is middle to upper class, married, around 30 and already has a couple of other children. The lengthy repeat procedures and expense was staggering to me. One woman spent $40,000, worked 6 days a week up until delivery and for months afterwards to pay for her daughter. She felt it was worth every penny.
So what is the expectation from having a daughter as opposed to a son? It appears to be based on every gender stereotype throughout history: boys are more violent, like sports and video games. Girls are easier to bond with and share common interests of shopping, applying beauty products, etc. with their mothers.
It seems so unfair to both parent and child to assume because of a child’s reproductive organs they will be the child of your dreams or your worst nightmare. What about celebrating the humanness of your child and helping them become the best person they can be? You are just setting yourself and your child up for disappointment. What if your child is gay, intersexed, doesn’t want to play sports, or be the dancer you never were?
As the mother of two daughters and two step-sons, I’m so proud to say our children have broken many of these gender-defining limits society places on us if we let them. I have an adult daughter who plays soccer and is the liaison between a drug rehab facility and drug court, one who travels alone throughout South and Central America, two sons who keep their cars and living spaces way cleaner than their sisters, one of whom spends more time and money on personal hygiene and smells the most fru fru of us all!