An Article Opened My Eyes To Gender-Free Parenting Even If It's Not For Me

An Article Opened My Eyes To Gender-Free Parenting Even If It's Not For Me

Just because something is different doesn't mean it's wrong.
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The other day, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when one of my friends shared an article titled, "This Is What It's Really Like to Raise a Gender Neutral Child," published on Vice. Dani raised her child to be more gender neutral and shared their story for the world to read.

I clicked on the article not knowing what to expect – I never really had much of an opinion on raising gender-neutral children, so I knew this would be an opportunity to learn something. I knew I had to go into it with an open mind to retain more information and understand it from a perspective much different than my own, but I was curious.

When people are introduced to a topic out of their comfort zone, they are very quick to discredit it. People have this fear of being ignorant or being caught not knowing something, so instead of accepting unfamiliarity and learning about something, they settle for what they initially believe could be the right answer. Americans are also comfortable with traditional values. They don't like to step outside their comfort zone until they have to, generally speaking, of course.

When reading the article, there were many quotes that stuck out to me, one of them being, "When they hear you're pregnant, the first question people ask is whether it's a boy or a girl. Why is everyone so eager to figure out my child's genitals?" Instead of questions being asked that are more meaningful, like "How has your journey been while being pregnant?" or "Have you thought of any names yet?," we remain creatures of habit and ask the same question every time: "Boy or girl?" I don't think it's a reason enough to raise a child gender-neutral, but it's a core value often overlooked.

Upon gaining interest in their story and need for some elaboration, I decided to reach out to Dani myself. Luckily for me, I got an answer. This is what was said:

"My daughter is my daughter. She's a girl with many (what people would call) boyish interests and favourites: the colour blue, dinosaurs, fire engines, climbing, riding her scooter really fast and many more. What I'm trying to do is take those limitations 'boy' 'girl' colour/interest away and let her figure out what it is she loves. I dress her in clothes that we both like and that are comfortable or practical (and sometimes they are pretty, too). Her favourite colour right now is blue, so she has a lot of that, but all other colours are in her wardrobe, too, like pink."

Being gender neutral is not so much about defying who you are as a person, but rather, accepting yourself for everything you are and love. For Dani, it's about embracing every quirk and trait you have to step away from expectations that are set for you. Mathilda, the daughter, is being raised to feel like she can only wear pink because she's a girl, or can't like dinasaurs, again, because she's a girl.

"If she was the girliest girl ever (and some days she is), I'd still do the same, because why not? It feels right to open all the doors to her: be athletic, be artistic, be brave, be colourful. All I want for her is to have all the options (a phrase I've been saying a lot) and not limit her to only 'girl' things: being pretty, sitting still, and the colours pink, white and red (apparently, red is a girl colour. Who'd have thought it..)."

One of the most important aspects of the parenting style is being able to raise a child free of societal constraints - the way they dress is a small but valuable example. Although Dani is much more liberal with the term, the article I am writing focuses on her story, not how other parents raise their gender-neutral child. For Dani, it's not about the term, it's about raising your child to be free of constraints, to be who they want.

Although the article on Vice was written about gender-neutral parenting, Dani doesn't actually classify as being one of them. In reality, Dani doesn't really associate with the term because Mathilda is just raised to be label-free.

It’s about how you want to parent a child, not how you label their gender, and that's what makes this parenting style authentic.

So although Dani isn't a perfect example of gender-neutral parenting because it's actually not the method being used by their family, the sentiment of freedom is still there. The Vice article overall was phenomenal and for the first time, I felt like I actually understood the purpose and processes of raising a gender-neutral child, even if Dani wasn't actually meant to be the right example.

Most people are not going to be interested in having a gender-neutral child alongside me for various reasons, but just because you wouldn't practice it doesn't mean it should be abolished. For some people, this is the right option and their calling, so they deserve to follow their choices. If you don't agree with something or even if you are just ill-informed about a subject - like I was - you need to learn about it. Read books, watch videos, talk to people. Learn about it before you judge it and even if you gather as much knowledge as you can and you still don't agree, that's fine. You're entitled to your own opinion, just like everyone else is.

I don't plan on raising a gender-neutral child, but I respect people who do.

Cover Image Credit: Dani

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Being Able To Read Comic Books And See Myself In Them Is Even Better

Superheroes aren't just white, able bodied, straight men anymore.

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When the word "superhero" comes into most people's minds, we've traditionally pictured a white, able-bodied man in a spandex costume, saving his city. That norm is quickly changing and here are some examples of that change.

1. The increase of superheroes of color

While their movie counterparts are still dominated by white people, comic books have become more and more racially diverse. There has been a small percentage of POC superheroes for quote sometime now, but comic book makers are coming out with a whole slew of new characters who are racially diverse. As a Filipina, I was over the moon when I heard about Marvels newest superhero, Wave. There are almost no Filipino superheroes in mainstream comic books, so I hope that Wave will eventually make her way to the MCU!

2. Disabled superheroes exist

This isn't a well-known fact, but some of your favorite superheroes are disabled. There are superheroes who are blind, paralyzed, deaf, have learning disabilities, etc., but it doesn't stop them from fighting the bad guys! A good number of disabled superheroes rely on their disabilities as their superpower or to increase their abilities. I think that it's important to show that being a superhero isn't just something that is exclusive to able-bodied people.

3. Move over princesses, little girls are now looking up to superheroes

I'm not saying princesses are being abandoned entirely, but I've seen more little girls running around the toy section of Target, waving around action figures and superhero masks. I'm kind of jealous because I certainly didn't get to do that when I was their age. With the increase of women in crime-fighting roles, it's easy to see why a younger generation of girls is becoming more interested in superheroes. It's empowering to see that these female characters can be confident leaders with the ability to defend themselves from danger, not waiting for a guy to save them.

4. The new age of superheroes is LGBTQA+ and proud!

Alongside the rise of new POC superheroes also comes the rise in openly queer superheroes. There has been a history of queer superheroes, but almost none of them are mainstream or their queer identity is not widely known. Many younger superheroes are being written as queer and maybe it's a reflection of how younger generations are more open about their sexuality?

I think that this increase in diversity across all matters is something that our society needs and has needed for a long time. Being able to see a strong character who also shares a similar background to you is inspiring and is a reminder that you can be just as strong and confident as your favorite superhero!

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