I cut my 3-year-old daughter’s hair really short. She had asked me, specifically, “Can you cut my hair like a boy? Really, really short?” At first I gave her a bob. Then a shorter bob. Then finally, when she asked yet another time, I said to myself, “Why am I avoiding this? Let’s do it.” I got out the clippers.
Why did it take her asking me three times for me to take action? Because this culture is still very binary when it comes to gender, and never more so than during early childhood. And I’m not immune to my culture, and I feared the reactions of others.
When I was in the fifth month of my pregnancy with my first child, everyone wanted to know the sex. “Boy or girl?” When I said, “Surprise,” they were openly horrified. “No one is going to know what to get the baby!” Pink or blue? Cupcakes or puppy dogs? Butterflies or tractors? These conversations annoyed me. I have a foot in my spleen and no bladder capacity and you want to know pink or blue?
Even without the key information of my baby’s sex, people sounded off on how different boys and girls are. Boys are so bold, so daring. Girls are so sweet, such good listeners.