Congratulations, Great Britain! It’s a Boy!!
I’m not big into celebrity gossip or royal-watching, but even as out-of-touch as I am in such matters, news got through the pop culture fog I live in: news that someone famous in the UK had a baby boy.
Congratulations! I’m a proud daddy myself, and so I know how special that little boy’s parents must feel. There is nothing more wonderful than becoming a parent, or becoming a parent again, for that matter.
Now, the egalitarian in me wants to point out that there were likely thousands of children born this week in the United Kingdom, probably millions across the globe.
This is not to diminish the joy of the Royals at all, but the rest of us… well… pointing this out is a direction the proud American patriot in me wants to take. After all, we fought a war to end the scourge of royalty in our country – we just celebrated our Independence Day recently, to boot. That was a long time ago; we’re best friends by now, without question. Still –
“Yes, but it’s a BOY!” That’s what I imagine my excited monarchist friends blurting right now, interrupting my tirade.
A boy. Indeed. I’m a boy. A big one, granted, but still, that’s my team. We boys aren’t the worst ever. Still, I don’t get all the gender-related fuss.
- The current British Monarch, Elizabeth, is pretty darn popular, isn’t she? An awful lot more popular than her son Charles? Elizabeth is a girl – or at least she was, before she grew up.
- Speaking of Prince Charles: wasn’t his late wife much, much more popular than he? And didn’t she actually do something meaningful with her life, like lead a global movement against mines of the military variety?
- The longest-serving British monarch was also born a girl: Queen Victoria. The British Empire reached its zenith under her rule. Not shabby for a girl, huh?
- And then there’s Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s first female monarch. Many historians argue she was Britain’s best monarch ever, by whatever standards they use to judge these things.
So girl babies aren’t necessarily that terrible. But how about boys? Maybe royal boys are universally amazing. Let’s test that with some examples, too.
- How about King George III. Remember him? Remember earlier in this post, when I wrote about America’s Independence Day? This grown-up boy is the story behind the story. He lost America’s hearts, and then he lost America’s colonies. Not that great a leader.
- King Richard the Lionhearted makes for a heroic story – until you dig into his actual history. This (technically) adult boy spent almost his entire reign out of England, first on a murderous Crusade and then as a captive in prison. Not that great a leader.
- And how about his younger brother and successor, King John? He’s the evil king in Robin Hood. He’s the dude to “blame” (or thank) for the Magna Carta, which stripped the King of much of his power and started modern democracy on its slow but triumphant march to today. He was so… not good a leader… that the British Royals have a tradition banning any of their babies from being named John!!
Okay, granted, a total of seven examples does not a sound scientific argument make. But here’s where I’d like to get deadly serious for a moment.
We live in a world where some countries, some cultures, have just recently reached near-equality of the sexes. I say near-equality because here in the U.S., women are still not paid an equal wage for equal work.
Women are still embarrassingly underrepresented in the C-suite and the boardroom. And we still have never had a woman president.
We’re really, really close, true. That’s why I say, women are near actual equality in America and in many countries of Europe, in Israel, in Australia and New Zealand, and in a few other spots of enlightenment around the globe.
But we also live in a world where, in dozens of countries, women are forced to wear black in the hot summer sun. …To wear burkas. …To rely on the men in their lives for a ride in the car, or for permission to leave the house, for that matter. Where our most populous nation has many times more men than women in my generation because its one-child policy led to common infanticide of newborn girls. Where sex trafficking embroils countless kidnapped, enslaved girls and young women in routinized rape. Where genital mutilation is, as a recent UN report puts it, “stubbornly persistent.”
We in the West can celebrate the birth of one baby boy for the tradition it represents, and we can certainly laugh at ourselves while we’re caught up in Royal Baby Mania. But I hope we also celebrate something else, something much more important: the sheer, positive power our collective culture enjoys because of how we regard our baby girls, both the new ones and the ones who have long since grown into womanhood.
I believe fervently that the greatest advantage we in the West enjoy is the equality of all adults in our population, male and female, gay and straight, foreign-born and native-born.
How can another culture hope to compete when it has sidelined literally one half of its population? And the closer we get to this standard of actual equality ourselves, the better we’ll be.
Congratulations on your baby, Royal Family. Whatever its sex!
Pic courtesy of: The Newseum and Huffington Post