Nic Heath over at The Dawn Chorus on the ubiquitous custom of parents colour-coding their children according to gender:
Dressing a newborn in either pink or blue is not a benign social tradition. Like expecting a woman to change her name upon marriage, it is an unquestioned convention that is hugely symbolic – in this case of the enormous gulf between sex and gender, and the widespread indifference to this disparity. In contemporary society pink and blue each carry codes of behaviour that children comprehend at a very young age…
A girl in pink will be encouraged to be passive and appearance obsessed. She will have different opportunities to her brother in blue, and different expectations placed upon her. Despite her own personality, she will have been shaped by forces beyond her control all her life – without ever really exercising her choice.
It’s a good point. If these gender differences are innate, then why do we feel the need to impose them before the child has ever expressed any opinion on the subject?
You’re A GIRL, OK? You’ll bloody well learn to be stereotypically “feminine” before you can walk.
How else are you meant to tell your children apart?
I’m painting the nursery walls green.*
*Well, to be honest, probably off-white. But you know what I mean.
My two boys attended a “Fairies and Elves in the Bottom of the Garden” party last Friday.
Do you think I could find elf costumes anywhere? Then I asked myself why the boys shouldn’t wear fairy costumes … so that’s what I bought for them.
Well, you should have seen the disgusted looks I received from other parents, particularly the fathers. How dare I allow my boys to be unconventional! How dare I allow my boys to have a good time, dressed, as “girls”, and make their own boy/s wish they were dressed as a fairy as well!
One of the boys made a big fuss about wanting to swap costumes with my Jordie but Jordie wasn’t having any of it . Daddy of the boy in question looked very relieved, but when the little boy got all upset and I tried to persuade Jordie to share, the dad jumped in sharpish and said no. Shortly after that he took his miserable child home.
On the other hand, my boys had an absolute ball and were clearly the happiest children there. In fact, they enjoyed the costumes so much they wore them on and off all weekend.
I’m sure the Andrew Bolts of the world think I’ve fucked them up for life, but I hope they grow up comfortable in their own skin and accepting of difference in others.
“Well, you should have seen the disgusted looks I received from other parents, particularly the fathers.”
LOL – My son used to love cavorting around in his ‘girlfriend’s’ skirts etc..
“the dad jumped in sharpish and said no.”
LOL – wottatwat!
“I’m sure the Andrew Bolts of the world think I’ve fucked them up for life, ”
No doubt but I for one applaud you!
My 4 month old daughter is wearing a huge variety of clothing, ranging from store-brought gender specific clothing down to hand-me-downs from all our friends who had their kids before we did…
So we have her dressed in all sorts of stuff… Her favourite at the moment is her ‘space-robot’ outfit… probably because we both play robots with her when she is wearing it and make bleep-bleep noises.
The result of this fairly eclectic range of clothing is that people in the street sometimes have difficulty determining whether she is a she. I blame Barbie.
My parents always dressed me in “Red” and it shows.
I dress my daughters in burkas in preparation for the new caliphate …
… but in pink, of course.
Black is sooo Melbourne.
My parents always always dressed me in blue, but now my favourite colour’s pink.
um, what if the room was that colour when you moved in?
i’m not going to mess with the convenient paint scheme….
The only thing I wear that’s pink, is my wifes knickers.Only the soiled ones mind you!
Gary, you’re missing out mate. Today I bought a stunning hot pink t-shirt with an abstract silver pattern on the front.
Can’t wait to wear it on Saturday night.
So you can afford the paint and it is non-allergy creating,right!?
Dotty I am in meltdown thinking about it.
I will see what else my wife has in her wardrobe.
My issue is more about dressing kids in gender specific stuff as a default or when they express a desire to where something else.
I like the colour blue, so I’d buy it for a girl or a boy. I don’t like pink, so I’d be unlikely to go with that.
And I’m on board with green, Jeremy. It’s calming 🙂
Actually, I can think of some people who are utterly enraged by green.
Amusing story, Lynda.
It sounds like those men were pretty uncomfortable with their own sexuality if they’re worried about children having fun playing dress ups.
Pretty pathetic really.
I must say, our two boys appear to show a remarkable predilection for big stuff that moves, trucks and the like, and I would question any one who thinks we’ve gender stereotyped them. If so, it’s been very subconscious.
You can go a little too far: http://www.thelocal.se/20232/20090623/
Note to parents – your child is not your sociology hypothesis.
That’s of course the point – it’s no more neutral for parents to be indoctrinating their kids with gender stereotypes.
I’m a boy