Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Televisual treats: Amish gap years, homocidal University staff and parental gender desires.

  • Rizzoli and Isles had a storyline about a murderous pimp who happened to be a residence advisor - beware all those heading to University this fall - your local, friendly helping-hand could be your worst nightmare!
  • Amish: World's Squarest Teenagers was another fly-on-the-wall documentary where the participants were clearly prepped about what controversial things to say or do, yet it was still eye-opening and warming, unexpectedly so. I learned about bundling, the different types of Amish clothing options (and how Becky wore shorts on the beach!) and how dancing for joy (and to glorify God) can be life changing.
  • 8 Boys and Wanting a Girl talked about PGD and the controversy. But no-one mentioned whether it was selection of a foetus based on gender, for which I can understand people's concerns. Or whether it was sperm selection (using centrifuge to spin off the light from the heavier sperm, since one type is mostly male) and then swamping a syphoned ovum in that selected sperm, or whether they actually selected a specific spermatozoa to implant in an ovum. This latter technique seems less controversial, but presumably it is more expensive. Also the feature was about women wanting girls in a family of men. I have two questions:
    • Do those with gender disappointment tend to wish they had girls? Are there more mothers wanting mini-me's than there are fathers wanting little girls? Are there a similar number of dads in feminine families wanting some male company?
    • Do these parents realise that even if they do conceive the longed for daughter or son, that they may turn out just the same as the other children - tree-climbing, gun-loving, football-playing, or doll-dressing, tea-making, pink-wearing? There is no assumption that the preferred gender will meet the cultural desires the parents want fulfilled. Mummy may not be able to go shopping for girly dresses with the daughter - she might want combats. Daddy may not get to go camping with his son, if he would rather stay home and play house. Do they prepare for this mentally? What if the kid is gender dysmorphic or sexually queer? Are they prepared for this? Does fulfilling the desire for a certain gender simply mean that the child must have the right genitalia? Would these mothers be happy with a gay son who wants to go to the gymkhana, discuss hair styles, or whatever else these women assume their imagined daughter would do? Would a father be okay with a butch daughter who can throw a ball, rugby tackle and make armpit burps with the best of them? I guess not. I think these parents are longing for a cultural stereotype that is unrealistic. They are hoping for a certain stereotype of personality rather than the genetic gender. Would any of their children feel pressure to be other than their current gender - do any of them consider transvestism or a transgendered identity more readily due to familial pressure? 

Okay, I have four questions actually: 
  • Why don't any of these families consider adoption or fostering? Do they want a little version of themselves so badly?
  •  What happens if the child is sick or disabled? They would be the right gender but the parents wouldn't be able to do all the 'gender-appropriate' activities - is that child still valid in their eyes as fulfilling the category they so badly desire? Would another healthy child of the right gender be needed to adequately satisfy this hunger?

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