Ariel Chesler is the proud father of two daughters, and there are no gaps in his happiness that can only be filled by having a son. So stop asking!
Dear Sir or Madam:
You’ve seen me walking down the street with my daughters, or maybe we met in the park, or at a community event, or the supermarket, or maybe near my office. And, you saw how happy I was, and how happy they were, and you commented on how cute they were (thanks again).
But, then after all the pleasantries and compliments, you still decided to ask me if I was planning to “try for a boy”as if you concluded that something was missing from the picture, that my life purpose had not been fulfilled, that I was perhaps still pursuing happiness for lack of a son.
I’m a polite person and so I probably nodded and smiled or told you that I wasn’t sure, or responded “we’ll see.”
But, borrowing from Ludacris, I should have told you: “Get back, Get back, you don’t know me like that!” Who are you to assume I am wanting? Who are you to assume I am unsatisfied with my daughters? Why are there so many of you with the same assumption?
Is there something I am missing? Should I be worried about primogeniture? Do I have a title to hand down of which I am unaware? Will I be unable to leave my daughters the nonexistant family estate? Are we living on Downton Abbey now?
Is there something my daughters can’t do or something I can’t do with my daughters? Hunting and fishing? I don’t do those anyway. Getting peed on by a penis while changing a diaper? No thanks! (Full disclosure: I have been peed on by a baby girl in between diaper changes).
Did I send the earth off its axis by playing basketball with my daughter or by letting her hit a ball off a tee? I did? I’m sorry about that.
For the record: I am extremely happy to have daughters and so proud of them!
There’s nothing wrong with having a son. I would enjoy having a son. In fact, I would love to raise a son and teach him that he is no more or less important than his sisters, that he is of equal value to women, and that he has the freedom to do and be anything he desires. I might even be a little envious of good men who have the chance to raise future good men. But, I don’t need a son and certainly wouldn’t prefer a son to a daughter.
The problem is that, in assuming that I can’t possibly be satisfied with having daughters, you are perpetuating the ancient and awful tradition of preferring boys to the detriment of girls, and you are devaluing my daughters. Please stop it!
Maybe you are not aware that this type of anti-girl bias is serious. What does it mean that, as recently as 2011, 40 percent of Americans and 49 percent of American men prefer to have a son and only 26 percent of Americans prefer a daughter? In India, and China, with its one-child policy, this bias means gendercide where girl fetuses are aborted in favor of trying for a boy, and infanticide too.
While I certainly don’t envision a similar problem in this country, reproductive technology that allows for the pre-selection of the sex of a baby has apparently become a multimillion-dollar industry here. But, you must ask yourselves why you prefer boys or assume that I do, and consider what impact that has on you and the girls and women in your life. Certainly, the psychological impact is real, and girls will suffer tangible consequences if they are not given the same resources or attention or encouragement that would be given to a boy by parents who prefer boys. We should talk about how we’ve all internalized sexism and rethink how we value girls. And, if anyone is unhappy or dissatisfied with having girls, to paraphrase another rap artist – Ice Cube – they better check themselves before they wreck themselves and their daughters.
My three-year-old daughter has recently started asking me if certain characters in books and cartoons are boys or girls. After answering her questions, I ask her: “Why is that important?” And, I’m asking you the same thing now.
A Proud Dad of Daughters
Photo: Flickr/Ashley Webb