On parenting a little boy who's been scared off wearing pink


#1

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#2

I have a very clear memory of when I was four and told my mother my favorite color was pink. She said, “Oh no, you can’t like pink. Pink is a girl’s color.”

I can’t say this experience had a profound effect on me, although I remember feeling bad any time I saw pink or the color was mentioned. One of my favorite shows at the time was Jellybean Junction. The show’s host, Ms. Fran Powell, would sing about how we could be any color jellybean we wanted. “You can be red, blue, or even hot pink!” And I’d think, “Well I can’t!” It annoyed me, and I felt that I was getting conflicting messages from the two main authority figures in my life–a parent and the television.

I never did feel any hostility toward girls being able to call any color their favorite (would anyone have told a girl she couldn’t like blue?) but I did feel there was something absurd about colors having genders. It seems even more absurd now.

A few years later when Star Wars came out and I started collecting and playing with the action figures my mother called them “dolls for boys”. I thought that was a cool description.


#3

I’m sorry Cory. There will be moments like this throughout his life. All you can do is encourage him that he’ll find his own way.

I remember the first time I asked a stupid question in Church. The stupid question was, after being told that the Minister is the person who does the greatest good, whether I could grow up to be one.

No. Girls are not ever ministers.

The answer broke my heart, and turned me from the religion forever.


#4

When I was growing up, I loved playing with barbie sets and especially the sky flyer dolls (I can’t remember exactly what they were called, but they had helicopter blade arms and a rip cord to get them spinning).
My folks thought I was interested in girl toys, but eventually figued out that I have a fascination with machines. My own toys were things like lego bricks (no wheels or anything else fun), a wagon, my rock collection, a few action figures.
They finally caved and bought me a capsella kit. I loved it so much I still have a few pieces lying around.
Sorry for the tangent, just thought it was a little related to the topic at hand (ie boys playing with girl’s toys)


#5

Wow, you liked girls toys because they were more mechanical. That’s not something you hear very often.


#6

… when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people …

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html


#7

What I find interesting about the pink=girls is that it was for boys for years until around the 1940’s here in the States. The Virgin Mary is blue. And red is a manly color. So lighter versions of those were suitable for smaller people.

We have a little girl person around the age of 4 and she has declared numerous times that there are girl colors and boy colors. She’s obviously getting it from school and if I ever find out from whom there will be beatings.

At least we don’t live in France, where various nouns have genders. That’s messed up.


#8

As a little boy, I was often afraid that someone at school would discover my love of the Beverly Cleary “Ramona” books. Luckily (?!?), I grew up in an area that prided itself on anti-intellectualism, which meant that most of my classmates had appallingly low reading skills. On top of that, the books themselves were non-descript in library cloth bindings with almost no decoration, so as a result, I got verbally mocked for liking books in general instead of being punched and kicked for liking girl books in particular.


#9

Indeed. I think I remember an old Lynx (Axe) billboard showing a man being leg humped by his mower, with the tag line “Lawnmower is Feminine”.

Either that, or it’s a joke from Matt Beaumont’s ‘e’ that I am partially remembering. Which seems more likely.


#10

Purple has been my favorite color since I can remember. I guess lucky for me the state college colors include purple, so I could always claim to be a K-State fan.


#11

The thing is, my folks were/are cheapskates, so the toys I got were cheap and had no moving parts more complex than a wheel. The neighbor girl’s mom bought her all kinds of fun toys that had a ton of mechanical aspects, so I’d go over to her place and play with her and her toys.


#12

I never had a particular attraction to pink (or to any color, really), but when I was young, He-Man toys were in… and I liked them, but I always liked the She-Ra ones more, the characters just seemed so much cooler. And I got several of them, too, but I do recall whenever friends came over to play trying to hide or explain away the more ‘girly’ toys (I have girl cousins only a little younger so I could use them as an excuse sometimes).

I still think the girl characters were more interesting than Muscle Man, Muscle Man with Armor, Muscle Man With Battle Armor, Muscle Man Who Spins his legs when you press his arms, etc.


#13

When I was growing up in suburbia the acceptable colours for boys were black, brown and, if you had the stones to pull it off, grey. Any other colours and you’d end up in the emergency ward: as I did twice with broken bones. As far as I know, although I haven’t been back since, it’s still like that.

Having said that, I think that the whole colour-coded homo-phobe thing is almost always a thread-bare cover story. On one bloody hand it allows a false internal picture of the thug’s desire to turn other people’s faces into hamburger being due to some socially acceptable reason rather than its own sadism. They neither know nor care what homosexuality consists of and would be just as happy with the screams of people with an even number of freckles on their noses. On the other bloody hand it serves as a balm to their pants-wetting cowardice by ensuring that there will be no consequences to their vicious violence. In this they are generally correct as most people will stop making moral judgements in some vaguely sex-related situation and the (literally) unthinkable situation where somebody might be having sex in a different way than you do is the most common of these situations. Simply reply to any queries about why the six of you were jumping up and down on someone’s rib cage with “Cuz he wuz a faggot” and you’re good.


#14

Well maybe. There are a lot of noun genders that disagree with the people who use/do them, so I’m not too sure how much the gender of a noun influences what people actually do. Girls still play with toys even though the word for toy is masculine. Boys still like cars even though ‘voiture’ is feminine. And there are a lot of cases where you can use alternative words for nouns in French depending on which gender you want to use.

There are all sorts of counter-examples for the influence of sexism through gendered languages. Persian is completely genderless (even he and she are the same word) and Iran near the bottom for sexual equality. The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland speak gendered languages, but are ranked among the top for gender equality.

So who knows?


#15

More examples of grammatical gender not matching natural gender, Spanish edition: ‘vestido’ is Spanish for ‘dress’ and is masculine, ‘gente’ is Spanish for ‘people’ and is feminine, even if you are talking about a group of males.

Damn linguistics, you crazy!


#16

Um, Muscle Man Who Spins his legs when you press his arms NIB is $47.95 on Ebay RIGHT NOW. Buy 10 and invest in Junior’s college savings…


#17

I don’t have kids though. Probably because I played with girls toys as a youngin’!

Also, keeping toys for 20 years New-In-Box is the sign of a sick mind, IMHO. I wouldn’t want to buy one of them, the invisible hand probably got its capitalist cooties all over it.


#18

On the topic of artificially enforcing gender… no, Kinder Surprise, stop it. :expressionless:


#20

No worries about those here, since they’re illegal!

Edit: I thought that little sign said “sans arachnids”, which the chocolate probably isn’t.


#21

If you mean in the US, not anymore they aren’t. That changed, recently, IIRC. Also, the photo was taken in Canada.

“Arachides” is French for “Peanuts”, and I would hope that there is never a reason to label chocolate with “does not contain spiders”.