Being pregnant

Finding out baby’s sex: Pink or blue just won’t do!

Tenille wonders why people still insist on thrusting children into "nice and frilly" or "bold and active" gender boxes.

finding out baby's sex

Photo: iStockphoto

We are not finding out the sexes of our twins. Cue appropriate shock and the inevitable question: How will we plan the babies’ room?

Forget having a big surprise when we finally find out the sexes of our twins. The biggest upside of not finding out whether we’re having boys or girls is purely one of aesthetics: We have cunningly, blessedly, and completely unwittingly managed to dodge the pink and blue bullets that are fired upon unsuspecting newborns.

It dawned on me when I received a baby store catalogue the other day. One page was all shiny fairies and butterflies, touting “pretty” hues, “loveable” characters and “whimsical” accents. The other page was all grey-and-blue guitars, “adventurous” animals and “athletic” themes. Guess which was for boys, and which for girls? In between, almost as an apology, was the neutral collection, apparently for parents who just haven’t gotten around to pressing the pink-or-blue button.

What the heck is going on? Do people actually create rooms like this? What if we have girls that love adventure and sports? What if we have boys that want to be princes and dress up in costume? It might be over-reaching, but it strikes me that painting a room pink or blue, and constantly surrounding children with gendered imagery like fairies and superheroes, could prematurely box them into categories they don’t like.

This disturbs me because, while I have a certain fondness for handbags and can spend 20 minutes working out what accessory looks just right with my outfit, I am also a tomboy at heart. I love bugs. I spent my childhood clambering over rocks and catching lizards. My parents had to buy me a toy truck so that I’d stop stealing my brother’s. I think I avoided pink until I was about 10 years old.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t girlie. I also had favourite dresses and a pair of rather striking cowgirl boots that really went with any outfit. The thing is, I was both “pink” and “blue”, and felt I had both in my life (even though my shared bedroom was bright yellow with lime green curtains. Hey, it was the 80s!)

I want my kids to have that same freedom. Yes, there is a place for pink and blue, right alongside green and orange and yellow and the rest of the spectrum. Exclusively choosing one colour for a child before we even get to meet them, chosen solely due to sex, seems, well, sexist.

So we are ignoring all of this inherent colour-coding, and are instead planning a mish-mash of everything. And if the kids decide later on that pink really is their colour — be they boys or girls — then we’ll go to the paint store and slap that pink right up there. And then I will do my darndest to find the pinkest bug-catching net in existence.

Originally published in March 2013.