To Our Village: Please Don’t Gender Our Children

I dread the day when my little boy realizes he isn't supposed to play with Minnie and will be mocked for his exuberant cries that "Minnie have a bow!"

This post is the email I sent friends and family asking them to assist Seth and I in creating a gender-flexible, non-hetero-normative environment for our twins. 

It truly does take a village to raise a child.  All of you are part of ours, and we are grateful beyond words to have each and every one of you.

I have been thinking about this email since before my children were born, and the time has come for me to sit down and write it.  When I thought about what I most wanted to communicate here I think what it boils down to is that we need your help.  Beyond Seth and I, you form the closest circle around O and J – a circle that has the power to build the kind of world in which they grow up.  We can’t necessarily change the realities of the outside world, but we can create a buffer, an alternative, a safe place to fall, a refuge, a place where they can be who they truly are.  It is with that in mind that I ask you to open your hearts and minds and consider how you can wield the great power you have in J and O’s lives in order to help us create that safe space.

When I went into my kids’ room this morning, my sweet J was standing up in his crib, exuberant, clutching his stuffed Minnie Mouse as he does every morning.  He shouted gleefully, “Hello Minnie!  I kiss Minnie!  Minnie have a bow!”

“Hello Minnie!”  I responded.

Across the room, my precious O was clutching the matching Mickey with a sly smile on her face.  She did a little shoulder shimmie when she saw me.  The night before as we headed up to bed, she had said softly, “Minnie?” making sure her companion would be in her crib with her.

No, my son doesn’t prefer Minnie to Mickey.  The fact is, my kids don’t know the difference between Minnie and Mickey.  They call them both Minnie.  Either doll will suffice at night when they can’t go to sleep without “Minnie.”  Why?  My kids don’t know what gender is.  Yes, they are too young, but also, we haven’t taught them.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Bacon (Pinkwashing for Profit)


Would you like some cancer with your good deed?

My mother died of brain cancer almost 8 years ago.  I spent 18 months as her caregiver, researching treatments, flying her around the country for the best possible care, fighting with doctors, and just being there as she faced death on a daily basis and struggled to “get her affairs in order.”  During that time I learned something.  Cancer sucks.  It’s horrible and destructive.  There is nothing cute, fun, or trendy about it.

I think that’s why when I see pink ribbons covering everything from oil change advertisements to nitrate-laden meat products, to BPA-infused water bottles, to make-up, it’s always felt a little wrong to me.  But I told myself, if this is what it takes to “raise awareness” and money, than so be it!  But is that what pinkwasing does?

Yes, it turns out pinkwashing raises lots of money… for corporations.  Pinkwashing is the practice of utilizing pink ribbons and other breast-cancer paraphernalia to demonstrate support for breast cancer “awareness.”  I think when most of us see those ribbons, we think it signals that buying this product will help support breast cancer research, hopefully bringing us closer to a cure.  But that is not the reason for pinkwashing.

Pinkwashing has become so ubiquitous, not because so many corporations care so much about breast cancer, but because it sells.  It sells because it gives us something we all want – the feeling that we are doing good.  But the feeling that we are doing good doesn’t cure cancer. Check out the trailer for Pink Ribbons, Inc., which documents how little, if anything, these corporations are actually doing to “fight” breast cancer.  You gotta at least check out the breast cancer bacon part – priceless – you’d better hope they find a cure after ingesting all those nitrates in your bacon with the pretty pink ribbon on it!

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