As COVID Ambassador, Pearl is all too aware of the plethora of middle class issues that have arisen from Australia’s isolation from the rest of the world, and I am saddened to hear that ‘gender disappointment’ is one of them.
First, let me explain ‘gender disappointment’ to those more interested in the pressing issues facing Australia – environmental decimation, political corruption, elder abuse – than middle class quirks. In today’s competitive world, many expectant parents have their hopes and dreams heavily invested in a particular gender for their unborn child; ‘gender disappointment’ is what a parent feels when they are denied the gender that they wished for.
From my research, it appears to be mostly an affluent middle class issue (in the same way that a proposed tax on franking credits was mostly a wealthy superannuant issue), with blog after blog of educated middle class women lamenting their bitter disappointment at not being able to experience a future filled with Barbie dolls, pink frocks and wedding dress shopping with their imagined daughter.
Unfortunately, in a world where young people are questioning gender roles and definition, ‘gender disappointment’ and its close relative ‘gender balancing’ (achieving a harmonious household by balancing the gender ratio in the family) are on the rise.
For Pearl, ‘gender disappointment’ is yet another issue emerging from an affluent, market-driven society that we should be concerned about, an issue similar to FOMO, the fear of missing out. I am aware that both ‘gender disappointment’ and FOMO are part of people’s ‘truths’; that the frustration people feel is unique to them, not one that should be critiqued and questioned. But questioning is what we should be doing – what is it about today’s society that makes a parent so hung up on their child’s gender or makes someone suffer from FOMO because they missed out on buying a trending share market stock?
We should be able to discuss these issues but we are prevented from doing so, just as we are told to mind our own business when we question Australia’s addiction to cosmetic surgery or giant SUVs. These issues are a cultural phenomenon, part of a market-driven society (the term FOMO was coined by venture capitalists FFS!), not psychological illnesses to be abated with Zoloft. Societal expectations about material wealth, gender, power and appearance need to be questioned. We need to ask, “How have we got to this point?” for the health of our children. But anything that threatens materialism, consumption and power is shunned for fear of negatively impacting the economy.
Pearl admits that whenever she hears a woke young person suggesting the banning of gender-specific pronouns she cringes. The gender politics debate is much larger than ‘he’ or ‘she’, just as the environmental debate is larger than veganism. But if abolishing pronouns means tackling the societal issues around gender disappointment, Pearl says bring it on. Now, all we need to do is ban those horrid ‘gender reveal parties’.