Published on March 28th, 2013 | by Christine Rodriguez
“The New Normal,” A Little Too Normal: Gender Vs. Sex
Recently, I watched a show called “The New Normal,” which airs on NBC. I’d heard it had gay characters and I am always interested to see how gay folks are portrayed in the main stream media. The episode that stuck with me was one in which the two main characters, a gay male couple, find out from their surrogate that they are having a boy. The whole episode revolves around their reactions to the news. The “sporty” father-to-be, David, is thrilled at the idea of having a son and shows his excitement by getting prepared to teach his son “all things boy”. The episode then focuses on Bryan, the “theater geek” father-to-be, and his fear of not being a “manly” enough dad.
I wanted to scream at the television, “the assigned sex and the gender of the baby are two different things!” But my girlfriend beat me to it. In our highly saturated, queer theory world, it was hard for us to understand that some people still believe the gender of the child is determined by their assigned sex. But, I realize to some this is still not a clear concept.
So, today I thought I’d talk about the difference between gender and sex (by sex, I mean the sex you were assigned at birth). For a long time it was believed that if a person was born with a body that was assigned male or female, that person would subscribe to the gender roles established by society. But, more and more, society is beginning to realize that men and women are really not so different. Even our anatomy is similar. Fact: a clitoris is really a mini-penis. Armed with this information, more and more people are beginning to realize gender and gender roles are invented.
Yet, despite all of this gender enlightenment the character Bryan, clearly not a typical “male” was overwhelmed with concern that he wouldn’t be able to connect with his son because he wasn’t male enough. I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t entertain the thought that his son might also be into musicals, fashion, and other non-stereotypical male interests.
In my room I have a quote framed, “Gender is Drag for the Soul.”I believe that in my bones. There is no way to know how a child-to-be is going to express it’s gender. The exciting thing is people are beginning to recognize this and are allowing their children to let their gender expression take shape and shift organically. Examples of this are popping up more and more. Like the viral youtube video of the adorable little girl in “Toys-R-Us” who doesn’t want the toys from the “girls” section and throws a well deserved fit. I think the more we can begin to reprogram our minds from, “this is what girls do” and vice-versa the better.
If I could jump inside my TV and talk to Bryan’s character, I would say, “think of your childhood and imagine what it would be like to have a Dad who’s not a stereotypical man to guide you through it. Do you see the opportunity you have? You can allow a child the privilege to grow up without having gender roles pushed onto them by their parents!” Just thinking of that imaginary conversation makes me want to raise a gender neutral baby of my very own.