Monday, March 24, 2014

Anything Else is the New Pink

Guess what?  I have a crazy feminist agenda.  I am against femininity.  I am also a tyrant and deprive my baby daughter of choice. And clearly, I was hoping for a boy, not a girl.

Yes, that was sarcastic.  But that is how a lot of my relatives have acted when I asked them not to buy my daughter pink clothes or toys.

Their response baffles me as much as it frustrates me.  To be clear: I love having a daughter.  I am not against femininity.  I am against gender conditioning.

Yes, I am a feminist.  But I'm not sure why that term is supposed to mean I'm a crazy man-hater. My definition of feminist is someone that believes that women are equal to men, that women deserve equal rights, equal pay, and equal opportunities as men.  Is there some other secret definition of feminism I haven't heard of?  Because who isn't for all of those things (and wants to admit that in public)?

Is everyone else not aware that 90% of girl baby clothing at most retail stores is pink or purple? Therefore, by stating no preference whatsoever, the chances are that my daughter would end up with 90% pink and purple clothing.  Now you tell me, is that what is meant by "choice"?

Further, my relatives act as if this delineation in the baby stores is harmless, that it doesn't play a part in gender conditioning.  Perhaps they think that gender roles are something from the past?  But if  gender conditioning is no longer a problem, why do so few women go into math, science, and engineering, even at a time when more women are going to college? Why aren't there more female politicians and executives?

I'm not saying that my daughter has to do one of the above.  But I'm sure as hell not going to let her believe she CAN'T do any of those things.

I believe that gender conditioning starts at the beginning.  Studies have indicated that babies do not have gender specific preferences to color.  Those develop after age two -- when babies have been socialized.  That, and the fact that pink used to be a boy color prior to WWII, tells me that there is nothing intrinsic about girls loving pink.  And I don't want retailers or relatives pushing those gender roles on my baby.

Obviously, she will eventually start stating her own preferences.  But let's face it, those preferences are at least partially a result of what the cool kids are wearing at school, what pop culture is telling her.  If, as a toddler, she longs for princess culture and all the trappings that come with, it will be a learning process for both of us.  I'm not going to be a tyrant.  I'm not going to ban pink, if she's the one choosing it. But nor will I write it off as a meaningless, harmless stage.

The solution is to be aware.  The solution is to not assume that anything is intrinsic.  That means reading lots of books to her and asking lots of questions.  Dear Little B: what did you think of this fairytale?  Would you like to wait in a tower for a prince to come rescue you? Or would you like to go out and slay your own dragons?

It's not about the color pink.  I occasionally wear pink.  So does my daughter--because despite my request, some of it still manages to slip through.  But I don't want pink to own her or define her or limit her.

That's why anything else is the new pink.