Posts Tagged ‘Gender’

Pink

My son likes pink.

I mean, he really likes pink. I think it’s his favourite colour.

Me, I’m okay with that. Pink is just a colour. I don’t like pink much myself – I’m genuinely dismayed at the fact that pink really suits me, because I can’t stand pink.

But I figure taste in colour is not hereditary. Unless my husband has a pink fetish he hasn’t mentioned.

But I’ve been thinking about this recently, particularly given the recent news articles about ‘Pop‘, whose parents are refusing to disclose her/his gender, apparently in an attempt to a) prove that gender is solely a social construct; b) allow their child to grow up without feeling pigeonholed into specific gender roles, or c) a bit of both. Or possibly other reasons entirely, given that media is about shifting units rather than clear, factual, unbiased reporting.

As far as Pop’s parents are concerned, I’m going to do something shocking: I’m going to assume the media has its own agenda (raising revenue through selling more papers/attracting more viewers/gaining more advertising/etc); and I’m also going to assume that however positive their choice turns out to be, that Pop’s parents probably have Pop’s wellbeing in mind. But their choice not to disclose Pop’s gender has had me thinking about how my son’s preferences are being shaped by me and by his father.

Generally I think we’re pretty good. To be honest, we do select his clothing mostly according to our own aesthetic; but that’s not gender based. My husband and I have a not-very-secret interest in the goth subculture, and we both wear a lot of black. If we wear something that is not black, it elicits comment. That’s just for context. We don’t dress our son entirely in black, though darker colours do predominate – black, grey – along with bold reds and greens and blues. Oh, and pirate motifs. If our son shows preferences of his own, we go with that. That’s how our son ended up with a pink Upsy Daisy singlet.

I was shopping for shoes with the small boy, and he spotted a selection of In The Night Garden clothing. He was about eighteen months old at the time. I showed him the (blue) Iggle Piggle singlet; he grabbed the (very, very pink) Upsy Daisy singlet and refused to put it back. Okay, cool. I bought him the pink singlet.

Six months on (that’s a quarter of his lifetime!), his Upsy Daisy singlet is still his favourite shirt.

What bothers me most about the gender typing of children’s clothing is that it starts so young and it’s so all-pervasive. As I mentioned, if our son shows preferences for anything, we go with it – which is why I wanted a toddler sized shirt with some sort of butterfly on it. My boy loves butterflies. Naturally, if I find a shirt with a butterfly on it in a shop, it’s very, very pink.

I’m okay with him wearing pink. But I do have a problem with supporting companies which perpetuate the whole girl = pink sparkly butterflies and boy = blue corduroy trucks thing. It bothers me that if I buy a pink butterfly shirt, not only will people assume I’ve put a boy in “girls” clothing, I’m giving money to a company that pushes this horrible stereotype. As far as I’m concerned, butterflies do not belong to girls; and I don’t want to tacitly approve of this sexist crap by paying money for it.

I got around this by making him a butterfly shirt that is unashamedly ‘boy’. I think it’s very hard to get around stereotypes – you’re either buying into them, or you’re rejecting them. I kind of felt that rather than hitting either end of the spectrum, mixing up those expectations was a little bit more subversive. The reactions I see from other adults when we’re out and about suggest I might have something there. When he wears ‘boy’ clothing, people assume he’s a boy. When he wears pink, people assume he’s a girl. When he wears a ‘girl’ motif in ‘boy’ colours, people aren’t sure what to think.

I really, really wish there was more unisex children’s clothing around – but not in a bland, solid colour design-free sort of way. I’d like to see blue and brown flowers with sequins; pink and purple dinosaurs with big teeth; pink dogs and blue cats (ever noticed that? apparently boys like dogs, and girls like cats!); beetles and fairies and monsters and cement trucks in all the colours of the rainbow… with lace trimming.

here it is! –> myth

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