One of the tropes that I often play around with in my head is rewriting a story of a life with a few tweaks here and there to see what the possible results would be. Kind of like doing an alternative history but with something more mundane and potentially less historically far-reaching. However, I always run into the issue that one would have to write the initial premise first or rely on events that most people already know enough about to be bothered reading. It means that doing it with an individual is fraught with issues.
However, on Rachel's Haven there's a thread ongoing about how much people would want to be the opposite gender that got me thinking. Originally I was going to post this before my ramblings on communities in the previous post and then I was going to post this one a day afterward but there were comments that demanded some serious thought and a proper response before I got round to it. By rights I should be trying to grind out some more AS level marking stuff for extra cash - I finished my actual allocation - but I'm tired and, frankly, can't be arsed. I guess that sums me up at the moment.
Anyway. I think I've written enough on here that people will have some handle on my life enough for the following to make sense. The thread asked people to rate how much they'd like to be a woman on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 obviously being the 'want to be one now dammit' option. It got to the point where there was a spate of low answers and someone mentioned that it was odd, given the clientele, that so few people wanted to be female. I replied that I had too much to lose to risk being transformed into another gender at this point in my life: I would likely lose my wife and with her my children. I would also likely lose my job, the problems of getting new ID, passport and bank accounts would also leave me destitute unless the transformation brought with it some form of reality warp - which would have to be more self-centred than I... I'm digressing.
Point is, I responded that if the question were different then the response might be different. I have often entertained the notion of living my life again - what would happen if I had been born a girl and had the chance to live my life again? I posted a precis of what I would assume on this and it turned out sounding, well, rather serious.
So what would happen?
First of all, I know that my father would have connected better with a girl than he did with a boy. For a number of reasons but principally because a girl would have been harder to project his own experiences onto - in much the same way that Tilly was glad that we had a girl first as I was more able to cope with a girl than a boy. This would have helped him, my father, deal with my mother's post-natal depression and, in turn, would have made him more inclined to get home rather than become a workaholic. This would have helped him nurture my mother more in those crucial early months - girl me (let's call her Rebecca for no real reason) would have been better looked after and had more human contact, less of the being put in a cot and left to scream and cry. In turn my father would have spent less time away and those initial doubts and fears that played on him about his relationship with my mother would have been less of an issue.
This would further mean less impetus to have another child. My sister would have been conceived later than she was and would likely have been better equipped to survive. Given that my father would be spending more time at home, helping more with the child-rearing and my mother would have been less despressed and guilt ridden it is entirely possible that the next child, when they arrived, would have been more nurtured. Rebecca would have been held more by her father and duties around the house would be shared better. My father is very like me, given how I know he did try to help I suspect the house would have been more harmonious. The next child, let us call her Helen, would have been less likely to die of cot death.
This will need some explaining. My sister died of cot death at eleven weeks. This single event pretty much cleaved my parents in two and eventually resulted in my father's affairs and their eventual divorce some twelve years down the line. My brother nearly died of cot death at eleven weeks as well, but my mother got to him in time and was able to resuscitate him. It was a matter of seconds. She was lucky in one sense but prepared in another. Assuming the reasons were the same for him and my sister: it was largely down to my mother's vigilance that my brother didn't die. If my mother had been able to connect with her first child better then, given my father's views, it is highly likely that she would have been more present with a second. That is, had I been Rebecca then with my father's extra support my mother would have been more likely to be on hand when child number two, Helen, was in the danger zone.
Don't get me wrong, I don't believe either parent did anything 'wrong' in the death of my actual sister and nor do I believe that they could have played things differently. I merely increase the probability of one or both of them being on hand in those vital seconds of cot-death/SIDS if I had been a girl for the reasons I list above.
Without that catastrophic event the following years become happier and the chances of my father deciding to stray become smaller. Straight away Rebecca has a happier childhood, and a more balanced childhood, than me. Also, without the guilt and the suspicion (SIDS was not well understood in the UK at the time, many doctors persisted in suggesting that SIDS was a chimera to cover up PND mothers smothering their unwanted children) my mother would have kept a wider circle of friends, she would have been better grounded. My father would also have likely been better grounded, able to maintain local friendships and so less likely to work a long way off in those early years. He, I know, always wanted a girl. If I had been a girl he would have had that to keep him rooted. A boy wasn't enough. Rebecca would have managed it, even if Helen had been a boy afterwards.
There's my start anyway, I will likely return to this and it is likely to move toward wish-fulfilment soon enough. For now, some statistically based analysis, without actual figures, and some hard thinking on it. And a realisation: part of The Fear and my guilt is that I was born male. Go figure.