On Boys and Girls

Shaker Bella passed on via email this article about British research which suggests (very loosely, as far as I can tell from what I've read) that a birth mother's diet prior to pregnancy may influence a baby's sex. What's interesting (as ever) is the framing.
Having a hearty appetite, eating potassium-rich foods including bananas, and not skipping breakfast all seemed to raise the odds of having a boy.
If you presume that's immediately followed by what "seemed to raise the odds" of having a girl, you would be mistaken. It's pretty much all about what it takes to bake a bouncing blue bun in the ol' oven. The last line of the article is a quote from Dr. Michael Lu, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and public health at UCLA, who sums up the science thusly: "The bottom line is, we still don't know how to advise patients in how to make boys."

It's not like they do know how to advise patients in how to make girls. But what kind of asshole would want to deliberately make a girl, right?

Of course there are plenty of people—of both sexes—who desperately want daughters, but that's considered some kind of weird fetish, especially when it's a man who wants a daughter, whereas wanting a son is considered perfectly natural. I remember a friend's husband looking at Iain like he was from another planet when he said if we ever had a kid, he'd want a daughter. It was like he had said he wanted someone to drive a spike through his eye socket, such was his desire so inexplicable. "It's noot like I've goot anyfing against booys," he said. "I'd joost loove tae have a wee version oof Lissie roonning aroond."

Dude looked at Iain like he was a traitor to mankind. Untrustworthy. What kind of a man wants a daughter? Wanting daughters is for hen-pecked ninnybrains and fags. Real men want sons.

The bottom line is, we still don't know how to advise patients in how to make boys.

My father was one of seven kids, six of whom are boys. (And, no, my aunt is neither the oldest nor the youngest.) He's always been an athlete; he played a whole bunch of different sports, excelled notably at baseball, and once had the opportunity to pitch against Satchel Paige. He coached his younger brothers in Little League, took up golf in college, and, once he became a teacher, he coached football and golf for many years. He had two daughters, of whom I am the oldest, and neither of us were great athletes, nor had any interest in athletics—not sure which of those is the chicken and which the egg, actually.

People—men—from that world of athletics in which he was immersed, used to ask him if he wasn't bothered by having only daughters. Not wouldn't it have been easier to relate to sons (it certainly would have been for him, for many reasons), but didn't he regret his daughters? Wasn't something missing? Wasn't his life incomplete? Why didn't they keep trying? Maybe he could have had a son…

Papa Shakes looked them in the eye and said he was happy with his daughters.

Mama Shakes told us those stories, a lot, to make sure we knew we had a dad who wanted us and loved us, just as we were. We girls.

Not so much because our dad gave us reason to doubt that, but because the rest of the world did.

The bottom line is, we still don't know how to advise patients in how to make boys.

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