I could easily make a huge, long post here about the sexist issues surrounding traditional baby shower practices.. But this isn't a widely read feminist blog, this is the personal blog of a feminist, so here are my particular issues, grievances, and situations. That said, I'm sorry if I offend anyone in this post, specifically family members who may stumble across my blog, but I feel the need to be honest. Please keep in mind that this is my space to air out any venomous rationalizations and get my thoughts in order.
There are numerous issues surrounding a baby shower for me.
The first IS the inherently sexist nature that is apparent in most baby showers. It's typically a bunch of women sitting around, which in itself discredits fathers, and engaging in completely gendered activities depending on the prospective sex of the baby. Not to mention that those activities tend to be either really really lame (like baby shower bingo) or slightly nauseating (I really don't understand the obsession with melting candy bars into diapers). The one activity that I LOVE is from OffbeatMama.com where they talk about letting all the guests decorate onesies for the baby (the post is here). The issue with this activity, at least for me, is that my families seem to think that gendering our child is absolutely necessary, and for the sake of the sanity of our little-one, they will do it against our wishes. There's also another Offbeat Mama post on baby showers that I love, but I really can't see anyone in my family participating in or enjoying any of the suggested offbeat activities.
I'm sorry, my husband is going to be just as engaged as a parent as I am. Hell, I completely expect my baby to be daddy's girl (she already kicks more when he's around). There is no way that I am going to any baby shower that excludes him. The baby is just as much a part of him as a part of me.
Another issue I keep running into is the Jewish tradition of postponing baby showers until the baby is here. It's not an issue with the tradition or the paranoia surrounding it, I completely understand. The issue is that J and I need to have started making the large baby purchases like a crib, etc. a long time ago in order to be able to afford them. Nothing on my registry has been listed as having been purchased so I have no idea what I'm going to have to run around and buy at the last minute. It's driving me a little crazy. Plus, since no one uses the registry or communicates about purchases, I know that two people have already bought rocking chairs that are not returnable >.< it's frustrating.
I also find the lack of familial support for natural childbirth completely disheartening. I know I should brush it off, but when people who usually give good advice and have experienced childbirth personally tell me that unmedicated childbirth is impossible or not worth the effort it's hard to not get disheartened. There are a good number of people who think that my desire for a natural birth is 'cute' but that the second I get into labor, I'll be screaming for the meds. And they tell me this. Loudly. I'm sorry, but my understanding was that family was supposed to support each other in their decisions no matter what they are. Not try to tear you down before you even get a chance to try. Yep, thanks for supporting me family!
I left this section for last on purpose... I'm hesitant to post this, but it's probably the biggest issue on my mind about the shower and it's really frustrating me. My inlaws tend to have some very strong opinions and get easily offended when things don't go the way that they think they should.
Some background: before my wedding, my mother in-law (MIL) decided that she would like to throw the wedding shower. Unknown to me, two of my aunts also decided that they would like to be the ones to throw a shower. Since my MIL was the first to tell me, and wasn't very involved in the wedding-planning, J and I decided to essentially 'give' her the party. Instead, she ceded the party planning to my aunts. Her choice. I fought for her. She never tried to contact my aunts and possibly plan something together.
All the women on her side of the family (women only, not my decision) were invited to the shower, but only two came, most of the rest did not even bother to RSVP. Again, Not Our Fault.
Only after the wedding did I start to hear the complaints that the MIL had about the whole shower thing. Now, because she was not involved in the wedding shower planning, she refuses to include herself in the baby shower planning or even plan anything her self. It seems like she's even a little offended that my family is following the Jewish tradition and not holding a shower until after the baby is here.
I just don't understand, if she was so upset about how the shower went, why she didn't say anything or take the offer to hold it, and why she's so set on repeating the whole experience with the baby shower. Instead she has set herself up to be angry again if her family is not invited and completely included in whatever shower plans develop (and it doesn't even seem like anything is actually developing). Still, this seems to be how she likes things, even within her own family she always seems to want to have something to complain about..
So, sorry if my post offended any family members, but these are the thoughts that have been plaguing my mind lately and I am not going to apologize for posting honestly. Any advice from fellow mama-bloggers would be greatly appreciated..