There are some things we take for granted in today’s world. Day in and day out we know the sun is going to rise in the morning and set at night, the freeway is going to be jam packed with traffic every Friday afternoon from about three pm until six or seven, and people who are having a baby shower will be able to tell us whether the cute blue sailor suit or the pretty pink dress will be an appropriate gift. Until, of course, we learn that the drive home on Friday was smooth sailing and the expectant mother whose shower we’re attending has no idea what the gender of her baby is. Eyeing the sun superstitiously, we head to the mall and try to figure out what sort of shower gift to buy when we have no idea whether we’re buying for little Jerry or little Elaine.
Interestingly, we forget that its only been about twenty-five years or so since we even had the option of knowing in advance whether the new arrivals in our lives would one day use the “his” towel or the “hers” towel and shower gifts were always either androgynous or delivered with a store receipt included. Because we now take the medical technology of an ultrasound for granted we forget that purchasing shower gifts without the advance knowledge of the combination of X and Y chromosomes included in the pending package was once the rule rather than the exception.
A great many people today either choose not to know the sex of their babies before delivery (“Don’t point anything out to me on that weather map, doc”) or, for whatever reason are unable to know (“Is that my son, Doc?” “No, Mr. Jones… that’s the umbilical cord.”). For these reasons gifts are still readily available in “unisex” varieties, making them equally appropriate for baby girls or baby boys.
Purchasing unisex gifts is easier than many people may think. The first rule is to simply avoid anything that is decidedly pink or blue. Those two colors will forever have the gender bias unmistakably attached to them. Pale blues may be appropriate for either gender, but there’s no getting away with putting any shade of pink on a baby boy. We’ve just not come that far yet. Whites, reds (dark reds, crimsons, and scarlet hues, no fuchsias), and greens work fine. If it’s on the flag of Mexico or Italy, run with it. Clothing items can be avoided altogether in favor of nicely androgynous layette sets with white onesies, white socks (no “frillies”), and completely asexual spit-up towels or some similar purchase.
Of course, if you prefer, it is still acceptable to purchase a gender specific gift for the expectant mother who does not know the sex of her unborn child… just remember to save your receipt.