When I first saw that the website with the story of parents raising “gender free” kids ended in “.ca”, I thought for sure it came from California. But—Holy Saskatchewan—it’s Canada!
It is in the Great White North that Kathy Witterick, 38, and her—I emphasize the pronoun—mate-for-life (or at least until the puberty of their brood) David Stocker, 39, are raising their kids, especially their newborn named Storm, without the benefit and curses of “gender.”
The kid got its name Storm, “after whipped winds and dark rain clouds, because they are beautiful and transformative.” So are tornadoes and tsunamis, but you don’t see these penned onto birth certificates.
When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? …).”
Note the Witterick couldn’t resist the feminine “upspeak” (“a more progressive place?”) even when writing. She’ll have to watch that when talking around Storm, who is entering a very impressionable age.
What kind of family is this? Besides Witterick, Stocker, and Storm there are also Jazz (5) and Kio (2), both lipstick-wearing boys. The pair of post-pubescent progressives and their pack of pre-matures vacation in Cuba (to learn about revolution, naturally). “Witterick has worked in violence prevention, giving workshops to teachers.”
Stocker, who is a teacher at a progressive school “whose lessons are framed by social-justice issues around class, race and gender” says, arguing from a position of studied ignorance, “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs.” Stocker forgets that, except for his relations, you don’t have to ask because it is nearly always obvious what dangles or what doesn’t.
Friends and associates were not happy with the decision to raise Storm “gender free.” They said that Witterick and Stocker, “were imposing their political and ideological values on a newborn.” This is true, but this is not, and cannot be, a criticism. It is a parent’s duty to impose his political and ideological views on his kids. God help us when the State finally decides it can do a better job.
The news article has a better way of putting it: “Witterick and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females.” The key word is believe. Belief and truth are often enemies, as they will be when Jazz, Kio, and Storm begin to grow pimples and hair in strange places.
The man (so to speak) of the family says, “What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious.” Here Stocker makes the same error as his friends did. Parents must—and should—make choices for their children for the obvious reason that children cannot make choices for themselves, especially in matters of consequence. Like physical danger, foods, and, like it or not, sexual behavior.
The family “co-sleep curled up on two mattresses “, a cozy situation. At least, for the next six years or so, until Jazz starts his be-bop phase.
Witterick practices unschooling, an offshoot of home-schooling centred on the belief that learning should be driven by a child’s curiosity. There are no report cards, no textbooks and no tests. For unschoolers, learning is about exploring and asking questions, “not something that happens…in a building with a group of same-age people, planned, implemented and assessed by someone else,” says Witterick…An unschooling conference in Toronto drew dozens of families last fall.
Best guess is that Witterick would not see the humor in her co-anarchists forming a club with rules on how to best “unschool.”
The article quotes Diane Ehrensaft, “a California-based psychologist” (California, finally!), who said that 70s parents “experimented by giving dolls to boys and trucks to girls.”
It only worked up to a certain extent. Some girls never played with the trucks, some boys weren’t interested in ballet … It was a humbling experiment for us because we learned we don’t have the control that we thought we did.
And we musn’t forget that all other animals, not just humans, are unable to avoid “gender” roles for their offspring. We are all stuck with biological sex.
I suggest what bothers people most is not that three children will spend a few early years “experimenting” with makeup and jockstraps, but they can’t stomach the insufferable smugness of the parents. It’s Witterick and Stocker’s damned superiority that rankles.
Witterick speaks of the “tyranny of pronouns” and muses of the time—that will come, thanks to her—when “we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are.” What could be more nauseating?