Thursday, May 23, 2013

"What Makes a Baby"

There's a new children's book out, whose title describes its topic, "What Makes a Baby." With cartoon-like illustrations aimed at an audience of 3-7 year olds, it might come as some surprise that a "certified sexuality educator" would have to write it. But this book isn't the usual, "Mom and Dad loved each other very much and their love grew into you!"

Rather, as one reviewer shared:
Indeed, the book doesn't even mention the word "mommy" or "daddy". Instead,What Makes a Baby explains that "Not all bodies have eggs in them. Some do, and some do not;" and that "Not all bodies have sperm in them. Some do, and some do not." Similarly, sex isn't so much tip-toed around as it is relegated to one unspecified option among many. "When grown ups want to make a baby they need to get an egg from one body and sperm from another body. They also need a place where a baby can grow."

The book is proudly lauded as appropriate for all "family styles," no matter how nontraditional. By removing gendered terms and family language, it attempts to communicate the origin of a child as some sort of raw scientific data that can occur inside a person or in a petri dish or in a doctor's office.

But is this really generosity to children?  To attempt to write books that water down the meaning of their existence as pure gift and mystery and love in order to find a way to excuse the technological and production-like vehicles invented to "make a baby"?  What does this say to the child?  What will our future world be like if all adults learned when they were five that to "make a baby" one simply needs an egg, a sperm and a place for the baby to grow?  

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