I’m raising my child gender-neutral, and what I’ve learned is: It’s not enough.

When I prepared to become a parent for the first time in 2005, I was staunchly committed to raising my tiny new human in the most gender-neutral of ways.

We had opted to not learn his biological sex prior to his arrival, and registered for green and yellow baby items, avoiding the stereotypical pink and blue at all costs. We declared that he would have access to all the colors, toys, and activities regardless of where they fell among societal gender norms. 12 years later, that child is an articulate, sensitive man-cub who is on the cusp of navigating gender and sexuality for himself for the first time. (Godspeed, kiddo).

My second child, however, has been different. I raised both my kids gender-neutral, but Nova has embraced that in its full meaning, shunning gendered pronouns and styles in favor of being just, well, Nova.

I’ve done a lot of growing and learning and evolving myself in both my parenting and politics along the way. In the past few years, what I’ve begun to realize is that, in many circumstances, these attempts at gender-neutral parenting may not be quite enough. In fact, I’ve been catapulted from gender-neutral parenting and have landed on a call to action to break down the gender binary altogether.

In the first few years of life, Nova was just Nova.

Gender wasn’t exactly high on my list of concerns when it came to raising them. At 5 years old, my kid already has lived and lost more than many folks do in their lifetimes.

Photo by Ashlee Dean Wells.

From a complicated pregnancy and surviving the death of their identical twin, to arriving 16 weeks premature and weighing only 1 pound, it’s fair to say that Nova has been fighting an uphill battle from the start. They continue to slay every obstacle in their path, but still, as a person living with special needs and permanent disabilities, there is a lot of autonomy they are forced to relinquish on a daily basis. I didn’t want to make gender another choice that Nova didn’t get to make for themselves.

Initially we used she/her pronouns, and I put a dress on them every so often, but their gender still wasn’t a “thing.” We navigated our life and appointments, clothing, toys, and activities in our typical neutral way while defaulting to “girl” here and there. Around their 3rd birthday, however, along with an explosion of language and autonomy, came clear preferences that required more attention. They requested a new haircut that involved the word “bald” and refused to wear a dress “ever again.” Along with an even more androgynous appearance, new conversations and trends in responses from our greater world began to emerge.

Seeing people react to and interact with Nova has taught me a lot about gender in the wider world.

In medical, social, and educational settings, I began to notice how differently people treated Nova when they assumed they were a boy versus when they assumed they were a girl. When Nova was assumed a boy, they were called “strong, brave, smart, funny.” When Nova was assumed a girl, they were called “sweet, delicate, cute, kind.” Different dialogue ensued, different opportunities were presented, there were different responses to behavior, and it was both fascinating and unsettling at the same time.

It wasn’t just adults though. Among children, Nova was often asked by other youth if they were a boy or a girl, to which Nova would (and still will) respond, “I’m a Nova!” or “I’m a human!” When given this response, often, people of any age turn to me or another parent and ask again, “Is Nova a boy or a girl?” To which we default back to Nova.

What surprised me is how frustrated and confused people are by Nova’s desire to be recognized free of gender.

I have watched adult humans grow visibility annoyed and have had multiple people tell me that they simply don’t know how to talk to Nova without first knowing their gender.

Photo by Ashlee Dean Wells.

It has been proven repeatedly that we treat even infants differently based on our assumptions of their gender, but it’s baffling that the gender binary, norms, and expectations have such a stronghold on so many of us that we literally cannot communicate without their constructs.

Why is this?

I don’t have all the answers, and whatever they are, the answers are admittedly controversial and complex. What I do know, however, is that my household is one with a foundation of respect. The arbitrary concepts of gender are still beyond Nova’s grasp, but with so much in their life out of their control, this seems like such an obvious and simple way we can choose to honor who they are. As they grow, develop, and mature, we will continue to respect the ways in which they evolve and identify regardless of who they grow to be.

Over the past few months, there has been a natural progression of language in our home to refer to Nova with the non-binary/neutral pronouns, they/them, because language matters. Because by choosing or using female pronouns for them based on their genitalia and nothing else, we ARE gendering Nova and contributing to the binary ways in which others see and respond to them, even if our goal is to remain gender neutral.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know where we go from here.

However, I do know that Nova has broken down the binary for me in such a simple way that I can’t pull myself back to it. In doing so, I’m not calling for a total elimination of gender, but rather an acknowledgment that neutrality may not be enough if our thinking is still rooted in a patriarchal binary that not everyone fits into.

Society may not yet be post-gender, but our home can easily be.

This story originally appeared in ravishly and is reprinted here with permission.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/i-m-raising-my-child-gender-neutral-and-what-i-ve-learned-is-it-s-not-enough


Gloria Steinem protesting porn site pop-up shop: ‘Pornhub is a hub of violence’

Pornhub has opened up a pop-up shop in New York City, where patrons can buy promotional merchandise and sex toys, or even put on a show for the site’s homepage. Running through Dec. 20, the store might appear to be all fun and games, but feminist Gloria Steinem has called the brick and mortar location a tactic to further promote sexual violence.

Speaking at a Pornhub pop-up shop protest on Friday morning, Steinem and tens of other activists called for New Yorkers to boycott the shop, arguing that Pornhub promotes racism, incest, sexual violence, and rape. Situated next to the shop at 70 Wooster St. in Soho, Steinem called the company a hub of violence and a danger to women.

“It is a hub that, in this moment of consciousness that is engulfing this country now, we must realize is the source of the poison that is in our system,” Steinem said, the New York Daily News reported.

Steinem said that erotica is healthy but that mainstream porn was not healthy erotica, arguing that Pornhub normalizes the degradation of girls and women.

According to Refinery29, Pornhub hopes its first pop-up helps to bring the brand into the mainstream and solidify it as a “normal” lifestyle brand. However, Sonia Ossorio, the National Organization for Women’s New York chapter president, says she wants to make sure it doesn’t become a permanent store, and she called on city leaders to prevent Pornhub pop-ups in the future.

“Pornhub sells the idea of sexual abuse of children, Pornhub sells racist slurs and stereotypes,” Ossorio said, according to CBS New York.

After the protest’s press conference, Steinem and others marched into the store chanting, “Pornhub sells sexual violence,” as the feminist icon asked a store worker why the store was selling handcuffs and how those handcuffs were related to free will, democracy, or independent equality.

In an opinion piece for HuffPost, Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, argued that a physical store for Pornhub will help groom a new generation of sexual predators, and she wrote that while Pornhub is selling toys and clothing, the company is only concerned with increasing viewership.

“Pornhub isn’t peddling fun sex or erotica. It is masterfully marketing itself in a corporate push to increase viewership on one of the vilest porn sites on the internet,” Bien-Aime wrote. “That Pornhub broadcasts its grotesque fare on the internet is for us to address as a global community. For it to hang a shingle on charming cobblestoned streets to groom the next generation of sexual predators is something New Yorkers must fight.”

H/T New York Daily News

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/pornhub-pop-up-gloria-steinem/


102-Year-Old Christmas List From 7-Year-Old Proves How Materialistic Our Kids Are Today

The last time I created a Christmas wish list was around the Polly Pocket and Doodle Bear era, so I’m a little out of the loop in regard to today’s hottest toy commodities…but it’s no secret that today’s children have started to go a little over the top with their requests.

This ridiculously extravagant list from one 7-year-old girl exemplifies that pretty well:

After her dad hilariously annotated her list with ponderings of what something like “a little thing that can turn into anything at any time” could POSSIBLY mean in real-world terms, the lavish list quickly went viral.

Just to give you a little dose of his rant, here ya go:

“What am I, Galactus? Do you understand the catastrophic universal implications of possessing a shape-shifting, time-traveling device?…You cannot be trusted with this at age 7. If such a thing existed and were affordable, I wouldn’t have children… There’s a reason that we have the laws of physics in place. And you expect this thing to be portable as well? You cannot have this.”

But dad wasn’t the only one fired up. Though his annotations were rather comical, it couldn’t help but also stir a feeling of sadness and disappointment in one family who hadn’t forgotten how simple and pure a Christmas list used to be.

A letter by a 7-year-old boy named Homer Mellen had been preserved by the Mellen family for decades, and they decided to share it with Good Morning America in response to the hype surrounding this little girl’s list.

Now, take a step back in time, and read what letters to Santa once-upon-a-1915 looked like:

It reads:

“Dear Santa Claus,

Will you please send me a box of paints, also a nine cent reader, and a school bag to put them in. And if you have any nuts, or candy, or toys to spare, would you kindly send me some. And you will please a seven year old boy.

Homer Mellen”

Wow. What an equally refreshing and scary read. The simplicity and sincerity in his requests stand in stark contrast not only to little miss princess above, but to so many kids in today’s society.

And sadly, it’s not entirely their fault.

Our culture has encouraged them to pursue the American Dream, to believe that anything they want they can attain, and that more & bigger is always better.

So we can’t necessarily be surprised when a 7-year-old girl asks for 1,000 bucks, ALL of the Beanie Babies, every color North Face jacket, and even “a little thing that can turn into anything at anytime.”

The average child’s Christmas wish list now costs around $1,500 to fulfill. And the amount spent on each kid is around $300. So you know what that means?


In fact, The Telegraph cites the chief executive of the Mother’s Union charity stating, “The majority of parents said that Christmas lists create disappointment for children if they do not receive all the gifts that they have asked for.”

On a day when they should be relishing in gratitude and remembering Jesus’ birth, they are often left sulking over the 80 percent of their list they never got.

“It says so much about the lack of appreciation for those things that truly are a special gift,” Homer’s 79-year-old son, Larry Mellen, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “We just take it for granted that you’re going to have that stuff at Christmas time, or any other time for that matter.”

What an eye-opening perspective.

Gifts are lovely and can certainly add to the Christmas spirit, but when we find ourselves or our kids getting too caught up in the materialism of it all, let’s all take a moment to reflect back on the day of paints, and nuts, and toys to spare.

Homer, even 101 years later, your humility has taught us well. ♥

Read more: https://faithit.com/101-year-old-christmas-list-7-year-old-materialistic-kids-today/