Friday, May 27, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name

Remember when you had to study Shakespeare in school?

       'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
      Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
      What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
      Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
      Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
      What's in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet;
      So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
      Retain that dear perfection which he owes
      Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
      And for that name which is no part of thee
      Take all myself.

   A Toronto couple have decided not to name the sex of their baby as they don't want the child to deal with gender biases or being defined by their gender. Additionally, they named the baby Storm which supposedly has no female nor male affiliation. 

In lieu of a birth announcement the couple sent an email to friends and family that said "We decided not to share Storm's sex for now - a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime...a more progressive place.

Baby Storm...are you a boy or a girl?  For now the family is keeping that under wraps or in this case I guess I would say: under diapers.
The only people that know if this is a boy or a girl are the parents, the two older brothers, (Jazz, 5 and Kio, 2) and the midwives that helped deliver him/her.

The parents of little Storm, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are wanting to give their children free reign to be explore their gender and be free from social norms that dictate male or female behavior. They feel that the children should have a lot of choice in developing their chosen gender. The two older boys are encouraged to challenge how they are expected to look as dictated by modern stereotypes Recently, for example, Jazz found a pink dress at Value Village that he liked because it "really poufs out at the bottom".

 One of the interesting aspects to this story is that all the reporters that have visited with Kathy Whitterick and David Stocker have found them to be conscientious parents,  well educated and involved with their children.  They have been married 11 years. David is a teacher that teaches at an alternative school that basis a lot of curriculum around race, gender and social injustices.

They co-sleep in a room with 2 mattresses pushed together in the master bedroom and the children can build forts with the blankets and pillows during the day.  The home is full of bookcases and maps are on the walls. 

By all accounts, they seem to be good, caring parents. (although a TAD unconventional)

As far as keeping their child's gender a secret, very unconventional, for sure, but is it bad?  Is it in any way harmful  or is it helpful?

There seems to be a number of stories in the news as of late that pertain to parents, children and  gender roles. 

Remember the hubbub created when the mom from Kansas City let her 5 year old preschooler dress up as Daphne on Halloween. Moms were in an uproar...though I am still not clear of why this was so was Halloween.  I let my daughter dress as a hobo for Halloween once when she was little.  Does this make me a really bad mother?  Did I scar her?

Still another family has been in  news  recently for letting their little boy dress up as a princess. Cheryl Kilodavis has written a book My Princess Boy inspired by her 5 year old son that loves to dress up as princesses.

How about the cover of US that has Shiloh Jolie Pitt playing with her sister in the pool?  Angelina Jolie insists that her 5 year old only likes boys attire.

I guess I am relieved that my boy child and girl child are grown.  They both seem to be happy with who they are in this world and seem comfortable  in their respective bodies.  I don't know what role hubby and I played in them becoming self confident adults nor do I know how they came to be the strong woman and man they grew up to be. 

I know that when they were little, my daughter and son both played house.  They both played sports and they both played with cars and trucks.  My little girl loved baby dolls but hated pink clothes.  My son played with our  little kitchen set but preferred puzzles and blocks.  I didn't push either of them in a certain direction because they were a boy or a girl.  HOWEVER, I did talk to them about what  gender they were. My daughter knew what her parts were and how they differed from her brother's parts.  They always knew that mommy was a girl and daddy was a boy. 

It is hard to say in absolute certainty but I am about 100% sure, that if either of my children had some issues with their sexuality, I would have been supportive of whatever their choices were.  I think families can be made up in any number of configurations and still be a healthy family.

Now of this I am also,  100 percent sure of.  I would of never left their gender a mystery.  I would have never left them floundering while trying to figure it out.  I think by not giving them guidance you are putting the burden on to them to figure it all out by themselves.

What are your thoughts, my readers?  Do you believe that  any of these examples of  very young children being given no guidance in terms of gender identification is a positive step in parenting?  Do you think it is harmful?

You probably all remember Johnny Cash's song about an name that caused some gender confusion.

The Good for the Day....The sun is shining and the sirens are quiet.

The Bad for the Day.... I am thinking that the name Storm Stocker might be a problem at some point down the road. 

The Weird for the Day....

Wednesday's  (May 25th, 2011) clouds moving into Kansas City
Weird looking, huh?


Bodaciousboomer said...

I'm glad our kids are grown too. Luckily they were raised in era when gender roles were well defined early on. LOL.

Mrs. Pickle said...

Storms parents are fucking weird!

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, I think all of this has added something new for young moms to be concerned about. Because I am a worrier, I would have been doing a MOMMY BLOG called The Art of Being Worried.

Cheryl P. said...

Mrs. Pickle, I love people that have an opinion. I think these parents will be learning a lot of life lessons about raising kids in the very near future. Being too off base in their theories will bite them in the butt, at least that's what I think.

Jayne said...

At some point the kid's going to look between his/her legs and ask, "Hey, what's that?" and they'll have to come up with an answer. As long as parents let the kids be free to like the colors they like and play with the toys they want to play with, I have no problem. It's parents who are paranoid and ridicule their boys for showing an interest in dolls or call their girls "tomboys" who I think do the most harm.

Cheryl P. said...

I thoroughly agree. I think parents need to educate and counsel but still offer up opportunities for all kinds of experiences. You are right on target with the dolls and tomboy statement. When they are older, boys should know how to cook and do housework. Girls should be able to mow the lawn and use some hand tools.

Jayne G said...

Yes, I'm sure they are "conscientious parents, well educated and involved with their children" but the secrecy is over the top. And I can't help but think they are hungry for media coverage. Sure they want to make a point. But the lights and attention on this boy/girl could be more traumatizing than offering him/her a GI Joe or an Easy Bake oven. Lordy, lordy, get over yourselves. If you are well educated and conscientious and tolerant and aware, your kid will be who your kid wants to be regardless of the toys or what you tell him/her. Vay.

Don E. Chute said...

These people are idiots. He/she will grow up to be a idiot. He/she will not even know what planet He/she is on.

The idiot parents of He/she should be picked up by CPS, then raised by Chimpanzees, where He/she would have a better chance of growing up 'normal'.


Cheryl P. said...

You bring up a really interesting aspect. What was the motivation to have this go national? I wouldn't want the world's eyes watching my parenting, esp. if it was very up.

Nicky said...

I think using your kid to make a statement about your social beliefs is pretty sad, and probably more harmful than letting them know if they are a boy or a girl.

Cheryl P. said...

Don, I am going to enjoy sharing comments with you. I love it when people have a straight forward way of looking at things. I tend to be a bit wishy washy on some topics. I do think these parents are on a really bizarre track. Jayne G. had a point. Maybe this is just a media grabber.

Cheryl P. said...

Hi Nicky, Agreed! I think they are doing real harm to their children by implying that gender is something to be hidden.

oldereyes said...

So, OK, I'm Older Eyes, the cross-pollinating blogger. Since you and one of my other favorite bloggers, thesinglecell, posted on the same topic from very different viewpoints, I thought I'd introduce you. Her post is at
Storm Warning

I, by the way, think these parents are Meshugana. I don't know if it will hurt the kids ... but why experiment on kids. Get a dog, for Pete's sake.

Annie (Lady M) x said...

I can actually see their point, although I think hiding gender is a bit extreme. Right from the moment they are born, kids are stereotyped by their gender. Just look at all the pink / blue clothing. And a trip to any toy shop shows how different boy and girls toys are. All these things help dictate to a kid what they should and shouldn't be doing, which I think is totally wrong.

Cheryl P. said...

Marketing types are always looking to set up sales strategies. I don't know how long ago that whole blue pink thing came along but buyers sure bought into it. Perhaps these parent s should come up with adrogenous baby clothes but still let their kids affirm their gender.

Cheryl P. said...

Thanks for sending me over to thesinglecell. I think her and I are both on the same page as to this is a poorly planned experiment using one's children. She did a great job articulating it. I subscribed to her blog while I was there. I don't think I want these parents getting a dog either.

thesinglecell said...

Oh, yeah, you're wayyy more measured in your approach to this than I was! I do want to say this: I allow for a lot of differences in the way parents want to raise their children. But that's for the way they want to raise them. Not the way they want to use them in a sociology experiment. I find that irresponsible, and I find "off-schooling" irresponsible. And since they co-sleep on mattresses on the floor... that kid is going to learn some stuff about gender sooner than later. Particularly if they have a fourth kid! Know what I'm sayin'?

Cheryl P. said...

I do know what you mean. There is a biology lesson for the kids. I also, have some opinions on the practice of co-sleeping. I have met a couple of families that endorse that philosophy. I don't think it harms children to respect their parents privacy and to set boundries.