The Royal Baby Girl Who Could Have Made History
Insanely, some women, ironically, have praised Kate Middleton for having a boy. Sexist responses to the royal baby's gender are especially off, since a new law would have made a female heir much more exciting and historical.
Newsweek and Daily Beast editor-in-chief (and fancy British lady) Tina Brown said on Tuesday: “As soon as William really kind of emerged into the public eye, you had this wholesome prince and his choice of Kate Middleton turns out to be absolutely impeccable. I mean, once again, she does the perfect thing.” And on Monday, CNN Royal Contributor Victoria Arbiter, also English, gushed:
"My first thought, I have to say, was this is how brilliant a royal Kate is. There are women throughout British royal family history that have panicked not being able to deliver a boy, and here we are, Kate did it first time. So it does mean, of course, the change in the next succession conversation is over for another 30 years or so, but we’re celebrating and thrilled that Kate has had a healthy, bouncing baby boy."
(Arbiter claimed in Twitter that she was being tongue in cheek. But does she sound and look tongue and cheek here?) There are three basic problems with this Kate-praising phenomenon. 1) Kate Middleton didn't choose to have a male child. She didn't do anything to have a male child. She had no control over the sex of the baby. So ascribing brilliance to her, or suggesting she as an impeccable choice who did the perfect thing is absurd and totally anachronistic. It's also really stupid. If I didn't know better I'd think England (or CNN) doesn't teach basic biology. 2) It's sexist. Why is having a male child better than a female child? why is that "the perfect thing"? 3) If anything, having a female baby would have been much more exciting and historic than a male one, thanks to a recent law.
Let me explain that. Though I would have liked to have seen a female royal baby, I do not blame Middleton for not having one. Nor would I have commended her had she had a female baby, since, again, it's not something she can control (I can't believe I have to write this disclaimer). But here's why it would have been exciting. In April, England passed the Succession to the Crown Act, which stated: "In determining the succession to the Crown, the gender of a person... does not give that person, or that person’s descendants, precedence over any other person..." It is, "[a]n Act to make succession to the Crown not depend on gender..." For hundreds of years, a younger male heir would get to skip over his older sister in line for succession. But for the first time ever, a first-born daughter would have become queen even if a younger brother had been born after her.
Alas, this won't be the case, since the first-born wound up being a dude.
It's worth noting that the Succession to the Crown Act also states that "[a] person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith." Of course, you still can't be a Roman Catholic yourself. And if you're married to a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, atheist, you're up the creek. And one could argue that the entire monarchy itself is an archaic and backwards tradition. But these reforms do signify baby (no pun intended) steps of progress.
Check out The Daily Show's John Oliver taking on the response to the birth of the royal baby. He addresses the gender question (hilariously) at 1:18.
What do you think? Do you even care about the gender of the royal baby? Let me know on Twitter: @kthalps
Update: The editors have changed this headline.