Parenting Rule #2 – Gender bender
You may have heard a bit about the fabulous gender equality that exists here in Sweden. And for the most part that is true. And it is great. (yes this is vastly simplified – more on the subject later). So, how do you dress your newborn/infant to reflect your fabulous 'I see no gender' mentality? It is a battleground.
Personally I am all for dressing kids in rather androgynous clothing. I hate pink, so don't buy until they ask specifically for it. I go for the middle ground – greens, reds, yellows, oranges – and hope for the best. If someone says 'oh what a cute little girl' about my son, I correct them and am not offended. Vice versa if they say the same about my daughter. Let's face it, for the first year it can be hard to tell, right?
But yes, I admit I have some gender goggles on. My first day at the 'open forskola' (a preschool that parents & kids go to together) I ran into plenty of little Eliases dressed in purple and pink. There were several Lovisa's in navy sweats and truck sweatshirts. And I stopped using any pronouns after the first five minutes because I kept getting it all wrong. And did I mention these were all first babies? I mean I understand if they had some hand me down 'gender specific' clothing – I totally get that.
In a way I was surprised at my reaction. I consider myself a feminist – and as I said – don't make an effort to dress my kids 'girly' or 'tough guy.' But I also don't make an effort to dress them in the opposite gender wear either.
I think it has to do with the fact that despite all the talk – there is huge gender stereotyping in Swedish clothing. Once my kids were older than 6 months it got progressively harder to find androgynous stuff. Sure, there is Polern and Pyret – but for those days that you don't want to spend 50$ on a pair of leggings they will outgrow in 2 months – what then? Maybe this is the parents rebelling a little from the trappings of the clothing companies?
A few months ago there was a story in the paper about a Mom who took it one step further. She didn't tell anyone the gender of her child – dressed them in androgynous clothing, and used a made up Swedish pronoun -kind of like calling your child 'Sho' in stead of He or She (Hen FYI). Way too exhausting for me.
So Parenting tip #2 avoid using 'He/she (and probably also sho)' when meeting babies for the first time – and think carefully about what social message your child's wardrobe is sending