One of the many things I’ve learnt since becoming a parent is that there is no such thing as a “right” way to do something. Nothing infuriates me more than when people feel forced or obligated to choose a particular path when navigating the treacherous journey that is becoming a mum – whether than be breastfeeding vs bottle feeding or working mum vs stay at home. In my mind, almost all parenting decisions belong solely to the parents themselves and are nothing to do with the government or our peers. Largely, I try to live by this. However, there are a couple of debate topics where I find myself unable to be tolerant and one of those is so-called gender selection.
Model Danielle Lloyd recently caused controversy for admitting she would consider using gender selection fertility treatment in order to “complete” her family with a baby girl. Gender selection is, thankfully, illegal in the UK but it is available in some other countries such as Cyprus and the US. Despite my blood boiling as soon as I heard of her remarks, I decided to give Ms Lloyd the benefit of the doubt, as celebrities are so often misquoted, and watched her defending her choice on ITV’s Loose Women last week. It quickly became apparent that my initial response that her choice is based on ignorance and selfishness was indeed spot on.
During the talk show, Ms Lloyd struggled to give any valid reasons for why she wanted the procedure other than vague notions that she wanted more “balance” in her family and that she was desperate to experience the mother & daughter bond. This enraged me on so many levels.
Firstly, what is this ridiculous notion of “balance”? All families are unique and all are special. Do we really have to have the perfect blend of sexes to be satisfied? This implies she cares more about how her family looks from the outside than simply being grateful for the children she has. And is this not a huge insult to her sons? Their mother is essentially saying “Our bond is nowhere near as close as a bond I could have with a daughter.” This is truly offensive. The bond you have with your child is based on yours and your child’s personalities and the level of nurturing you have offered during their childhood. It has nothing to do with their sex. And my goodness, what a lot of unhelpful pressure her belief would be heaping onto her relationship with her daughter before she is even conceived!
Secondly, she can’t predict the future and she has no idea what sort of personality her future baby girl would have. How does she know that her daughter would be the type to indulge in all the traditional “girly” pastimes that Ms Lloyd is clearly so desperate to experience with her.
Thirdly, in this modern age we are actually striving to eliminate gender divides, not encourage them! I strongly believe any child, regardless of their sex, should be able to wear whatever clothes and play with whatever toys they wish, rather than forcing all little girls to wear pink and play with dolls. Surely if gender is so important families are willing to put in this much effort to ensure a specific sex, this is sending a very mixed message to a society that largely encourages gender fluidity?
Lastly, she is selfish – plain and simple. Her motivations for gender selection were for nobody elses’s benefit but her own. I’m all for women having choices but I draw the line here. During the interview, Ms Lloyd continually lamented about how grateful she was for her existing children, and how lucky she was compared to the many couples who struggle with their fertility, but clearly she didn’t mean a word of that because someone who was truly thankful and appreciative for what they have would never consider gender selection.
As someone who is struggling to have a second child I find the concept of gender selection particularly abhorrent. I am painfully aware of how miraculous having any child is so the idea of someone being dissatisfied with their child based on something as minor as their sex feels like an insult.
Putting personal differences aside, surely we are also entering very dangerous moral territories with medical procedures such as these? I remember Dolly The Sheep being cloned during my teens and the question of medical ethics being put under the spotlight. The human race follows a natural order at present and surely it is not down to us to play God or Mother Nature in this way? To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, just because something in science can be done that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should. Clearly this is the sensible standpoint taken by medical authorities in the UK and I urge other countries to follow suit before something like gender selection spirals out of control.
I should point out here that there is one instance where I believe gender selection has merit and that is on medical grounds. I’m well aware that certain awful genetic conditions affect only one sex and couples with these genes are keen to undergo treatments order to ensure they are able to have a child free from a disease that is going to hinder their quality of life. I support and understand this. What I’m speaking against is parents, like Ms Lloyd, opting for gender selection for no reason besides vanity.
As someone who has done a great deal of soul searching and mental renovation during the last five years thanks to my experiences with perinatal mental illness, I would urge Ms Lloyd to take a moment for self-reflection before embarking on such an endeavour. Her desire for this elusive “balance” and mythical mother/daughter bond, which she believes to be so very different from her mother/son bond, indicates to me that she has some work to do on herself; on her thinking and her core values. To wish for a particular sex of child is one thing, and it’s common and understandable, but to go so far as to travel many miles and pay a great deal of money just to ensure you get the baby you want implies a deep dissatisfaction in her life, and her mind. And I suggest Ms Lloyd looks into that.
I would love to hear what you all think about this topic in the comments below.