I recently read a string of tweets from several parents (mothers and fathers) who lamented “failure” in their efforts to raise their children in a gender-neutral way. Their failure wasn’t one of not allowing the child to choose its own path, but rather a lament that their kids chose “traditional” (e.g. girls choosing pink and dolls) amusements and preferences. The obvious conclusion is that their “gender-neutral” desire was that the girls would choose Tonka and the boys would choose Barbie.

This isn’t “gender-neutral” at all. It indicates an active desire (and, likely, effort) to inculcate predilections in their children that run counter to traditional preferences. It’s “neutrality” demonstrated by over-weighting the contrarian outcome that the woke social-justice scolds demand.

I can hear the arguments for doing so: society’s gender biases create an imbalance that needs to be counterweighted, toxic masculinity needs to be actively remediated, boys are told to be aggressive and girls are told to be passive (an argument made by people who’ve forgotten what grade school is like), and on and on. Whatever your feeling about these arguments, recognize that they are incompatible with the idea of a “neutral” rearing. If you want to raise your kids to a certain set of values, if you think that they need to be taught to think a certain way, avow so. Be honest about it. Don’t hide behind a “neutral” misdirection.

Being “gender neutral” would involve allowing children to choose the toys, clothes, etc they want, whatever those may be. It would involve being supportive of their ideas, explorations, trials and errors, without judgment and without disappointment that they may have chosen a path you didn’t want.

It would not involve coaxing them in the contrarian direction, in the “girls will be boys and boys will be girls it’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola” aspiration that The Kinks sang about nearly 50 years ago.

Why would people do this? Why would they try to override their children’s predilections in favor of a new conformity? Does it make the kids’ lives better?

Or is it about virtue-signaling to friends, neighbors, and the world, to demonstrate that they are more progressive and more forward-thinking than the benighted rabble?

Here’s a bit of cold reality. Those to whom such people are playing, those whose approval they seek, don’t give the slightest shit about how these folks raise their kids, other than for the opportunity to scold them publicly (as their own form of virtue signal) when they don’t fulfill the narrative. You won’t get a pat on the head for doing it right. They are the absolute last people any of us should look to for guidance or approval or influence or an understanding of how best to advance society. And certainly, they’re the last people of whom we should ask for parenting advice.

If you’re attempting “gender neutral” and your boy nevertheless fulfills Ambrose Bierce’s definition of “a noise with dirt on it,” or your girl still shows a preference for dolls over dirt, and that upsets you, you’re lying to yourself. And to the rest of us.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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