Remember that iconic advertising campaign for Avis: “We’re number 2. We try harder”? That should be the tag line for girls around the world. We lag in popularity, so we have to try harder.
A recent survey reported on by The Daily Mail confirms that American couples generally prefer their first offspring to be a boy. Men, in particular widely favour having a mini Tommy or Billy or Bobby right out of the gate. Sixty-three percent of men wanted the ‘fruit of the loin’ to be a boy, versus 11 percent who favoured a girl. On the other hand, women were pretty fairly divided on gender preference. (“Just get this thing out of me already!”)
One reason that the majority of couples wanted a boy was the belief that “boys are less hard work.” Whether this is actually true is anybody’s guess. It boils down to how people define ‘hard work’. Is dealing with your child’s potential for ADD and petty criminal behaviour less hard than being harassed for money to buy the latest fashion collection from Marc Jacobs?
In another study, two economists reviewed U.S. Census data from 1940-2000 to discern trends in gender preference. Among other findings, they discovered that couples were more likely to try for another child if their previous children were girls. Presumably they’re playing the odds that the next one will be a boy.
Certainly, some of this preference for males can be attributed to various religious and cultural prejudices that favour men over women and that have, over time, bled into society, such as passing on the family name through the male line.
But it’s also possible that couples’ gender preferences are simply the result of being cold-minded and practical. I’m a girl. And I’m pro-girl. But, even a girl’s-girl like me has to admit that girls are trouble.
Let’s face it: Girls are messy and we offer a more complicated kind of grief to parents than boys do. Not everyone is psychically prepared to cope with what we can dish out.
For starters, we get periods. That’s no fun for us and we make sure it’s also no fun for anyone within a 50-mile radius. Depending on how a girl’s hormones roll, it can be so much ‘not fun’ that it’s hell. Every month. Sometimes twice.
Then there’s the matter of dating. And all that that entails. (“Hello Baby Mama!”) We won’t even go there, except to say that a little ‘whoops’ will engage all the hot buttons in a family: religion, politics, feminism, patriarchy, abortion, and personal values.
Then, add a giant dollop of body image issues, (“I’m ugly!” “I hate myself!” “Everyone hates me!” “My thighs are hideous!“), and you’ve got enough female trouble to last at least a decade, maybe more.
In my family, I was the first born. My parents were so sure I would be a boy, they didn’t even pick out girls’ names. Did I make them pay for this later as a teenager? You betcha. Did we kiss and make-up? Yup. Was I more work than my brother? Umm. Let’s just say, I was a different kind of hard work. I’d like to think, a more interesting, nuanced kind. But my parents might just say, “Thank God it’s over.”