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We dress our baby like a boy. It’s partly because the clothes were free, courtesy of her six-month old, male cousin. It’s partly because we like the clothes in the “boys”section better. (Monster suit, I’m looking at you!) But it’s mostly because, unless she’s in a dress or wearing neon pink (and sometimes not even then), people assume she’s a boy.

It’s not just other people. We do it too. When we put her in her first dress, for a party my mother in law had last weekend, I looked at my husband and said, “Wow, she looks like a girl.”

Babies are baby shaped. They don’t look male or female – they look like little balls of adorable. Any gender identification that we impose on babies comes from us. Including the default assumption that a baby is a boy until proven otherwise. This is at the root of our difficulties with gender, our need to dichotomize into girl/boy, male/female and all the baggage that goes along with that.

And there’s no way we can live in a world in which gender doesn’t come with a pre-packaged set of assumptions and norms, until we can let babies be babies. Without attaching a label.


It seems that I’m not the only one thinking about gender norms and preconceptions today. Chuck Wendig has a great blog on the subject here, and Kat Howard’s thoughts are here.