Mom Prefers Son To Daughter Because Of ‘The Agony Bringing Up Girls Entails’
Many parents have preferences when it comes to the sex of their baby, but one mother over at The Guardian considered herself to have won “the gender lottery” when she learned that she was pregnant with a son. Her reasoning is that all the social minefields, body issues, and commercial representations that girls must contend with at younger ages make them harder to raise — so having a son is a cake walk. She manages to blame little girls with one hand while making sweeping generalizations about little boys with the other.
Lucy Mangan’s delight at winning a gender lottery implies that what’s being foisted on little girls is to be conflated with their natural disposition — a very dangerous juxtaposition. To suggest that boys are also somehow the “lower maintenance” child ignores the multitude of boys with unconventionally masculine needs, such as body image problems or bullying victimization to name only a couple.
When reflecting on learning her child’s sex, Mangan writes:
But when I see in my friends…the agony that bringing up a girl entails, I am increasingly grateful that the gender lottery has awarded me a Y chromosome. The cliques girls form, the psychological acuity they manifest at such impossibly tender ages, their awful vulnerability to ideal diets (one friend already has a six-year-old who is turning down sweets and puddings because they’ll make her fat) and all the other airbrushed images of perfect bodies with which they are bombarded, are painful to see. So although it’s weird to be growing a penis inside me, I think it’s ultimately for the best.
Describing herself as “grateful” for her child’s sex and as “the best” outcome, Mangan’s attitude illustrates a bias against little girls that is not their fault. Rather than seeing little girls as victims to a culture that devalues them anyway and thus in great need of strong parents, Mangan interprets the growing awareness of anxiety and depression in girls as simply a more difficult road for parents. Little girls are then somehow more difficult, more needy, more complicated than boys, and so a son is definitely a win for all parties involved.
How is a daughter, anyone’s daughter, supposed to interpret that other than by assuming that what’s culturally inflicted upon them makes them less desirable than a son? A daughter’s fumbles with eating disorders or depression are not inherently her fault by way of gender; it’s predominantly a reaction to a culture that chooses to only view and recognize femininity in very narrow terms. Yet this mother would have you believe that efforts to raise self-confident daughters is somehow “agony.”
Meanwhile, little boys have an array of masculinity issues to sort through in their lifetime, most of which won’t be granted the acknowledgement of a national poll or study. And even though girls often get all the press for what plagues them, to assert that boys are somehow intrinsically less parental work discounts all that a little boy might confront in his young life too. Raising children is indefinitely hard work regardless of gender. The fact that one has been designated the dumping ground for every cultural anxiety we have shouldn’t inhibit parents from loving the prospect of raising a daughter. Mangan’s relief about having a son says more about how we choose to view girls who have succumbed to cultural expectations than about girls themselves.