You can’t win ’em all


I am Indian and a third generation immigrant. My mother told me this story. When I was first born and my mother had bought me home she was absolutely content that her second born girl was healthy and happy. As is customary the family began calling my mother to see how she was after the birth, however when her auntie called her their conversation went like this:

Mother’s auntie: Did you have a boy or a girl?

My mother: A baby girl.

Mother’s auntie: Don’t worry, next time you will have a boy.

Even when I think about it 21 years later it angers me. By rules of my culture I was not a worthy child because I was not a boy, I was not to be celebrated in the same manner. I feel this story perfectly displays cultural sexism and how deep it remains. The old ideals that boys carry on the family name and girls just cost money and must be married off seems to run so deep.

Lucky for me, my mother reminds me that I am a blessing and she does not treat me any differently than my younger brother.

But according to my auntie it’s my fault I was born female.


Born female and proud of it!


9 Responses to “You can’t win ’em all”

  1. Barbara P Says:

    My second child was a boy, and I had certain friends/aquaintaces who would say “I bet you’re SO glad”, in a way that gave me the distinct impression that it would be “bad” if I had two girls. I noticed it more among people from Asian cultures (Korean, Chinese, Indian) but also from Greek friends.

    The worst thing about it is how subtle it is. I definitely felt the distinction, but it was nothing I could easily call out. (Even in their own minds, they may not have recognized the difference.) And of course, it doesn’t generally work to respond negatively to someone’s expression of happiness for you.

    I would just respond that I would be happy with either a boy or a girl, since it would be fun to have one of each, but it would also be nice to have 2 sisters.

  2. Robert Says:

    I taught English in China for a while a few years ago. All of my students were extremely interested to know everything about me, and one of the first things they would ask me if about my family. I had one chilling conversation that went kind of like this:

    Student: Do you have brothers and sisters?
    Me: I have two sisters.
    Student: Oh! You are the only boy.
    Me: That’s right.
    Student: So your parents love you best?
    Me: …

    I wasn’t really sure what to answer.

  3. Ayla Says:

    Robert, that is heartbreaking. I think I would have answered that a parent’s love cannot be measured. What they do to little girls over there is just horrendous.

  4. Amananta Says:

    Even in America, among Caucasian Americans, I commonly hear the sentiment that boys are better, easier to raise, and more desirable. Girls are automatically considered more difficult, “complicated”, complex, emotional, from birth onward. It’s more subtle, but deeply ingrained, and maddening.

  5. Natalie Says:

    6 weeks after my oldest daughter was born, a friend (another woman, about 21 years old) asked me when we were going to try again for a boy.


  6. A Different Sam Says:

    I’ve heard that this is bad enough in China that the current rising generation’s gender ratio is something like 56% male, 44% female.

  7. Cindy Says:

    I am one of four sisters in my family and the reason my parents kept breeding even though they CLEARLY could not afford it (financially and mentally) was because they wanted to try for a boy. It’s no wonder I hate them so much now.

  8. atozinco Says:

    In my personal experience, girls seem to be at least as desired as boys, especially by their mothers, where I live in New Zealand (a predominantly white, middle class area). Girls are seen as ‘sweeter’ than boys and ‘easier’ to raise.

    I’m sure that this is different in other areas and in other countries (as the above comments have noted). I have a friend from China who was the first born in her family (she has a younger brother). After she was born, her parents really wanted a boy, so they had a family doctor friend declare her as ‘mentally ill’ so that they could get permission to try for another child. I know they love her, but I doubt that they would have done that had she been a boy.

  9. Changing Tastes Says:

    Amanata: I hear that from people too. I find it ironic when it comes from women who were very much not the stereotypical girl and now woman but who somehow seem to think that a girl they raised would be. How does that work out?

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