Friday, May 7, 2010

Fess Up Friday: The Pink and Sparkly Edition

A couple weeks ago, the ControverSundrians wrote about gender. I don't exactly remember why I didn't partake, but I've been thinking a lot about it since then.

The general consensus was that when it comes to gender norms and expectations, it's best to let our children lead the way. For instance, don't refuse to buy your son a baby doll or a Barbie because it's a "girl" toy, but don't force one on him either because of your own agenda to raise a progressive child.

I totally agree with this, in theory. It's how Chris and I plan on raising Charlotte, in theory.

I think it's easier for girls anyway; they can play sports, they can dance, play with dolls, play with Tonka trucks, wear dresses, wear overalls, and so on. In fact, I think most girls who dip into the "boy" category now and then are just considered cooler than their pink and sparkly counterparts. If a little girl can sport a tiara while kicking a soccer ball, she's bad ass. If a little boy does the same, everyone is sure he'll grow up to be gay. It's beyond stupid.

My confession is this: I will be very disappointed if Charlotte turns out to be a major tomboy. I will support any endeavor in which she shows interest, and I'll do it with a smile. I won't push her in any direction except the one she's pointing to.

But, I will quietly mourn the mommy/daughter pedicures, the tea parties, the frock films she won't want to watch...all the stuff I envisioned when I found out I was having a girl, all the stuff I did with MY mom.

But, we'll always have the outdoors.

And rocks!

It's weird because I'm not even very good at being a girly girl. I can't style my hair, my makeup skills are rudimentary, at best, and I hate to shop. I love hiking, don't mind getting dirty, drink beer, and check out more girls than I do guys. But, man, put something glittery in front of me, and I go mad for it. I played "house" well into my adolescence. I make it a point not to know how to work anything even remotely technological.

I also admit that the reason I say we are raising Charlotte without gender sterotypes in theory is that the child's wardrobe is pinker than a bottle of Pepto. Even Chris is guilty; I'll dress her in her engineer overalls, and Chris will want to change her into a pretty dress.

I think it's cooler to say that you hate the color pink and won't let your daughter have a Barbie. I think that's what the hip, enlightened moms say. And maybe I'm influencing her already by assuming she'd prefer the Disney Princess chair to the Bob the Builder one. And maybe I'm wrong to do so.

But, I think as long as we keep taking her hiking, Chris keeps trying to get her to like bugs (gross), and we let her choose her own activities, it won't really matter that she's wearing a shirt with purple butterflies on it.

Or, a pretty dress...


  1. I totally don't understand that shirt she's that a big ruffle on one shoulder?

  2. I think at some point they just decide/figure out for themselves who they'll be and what they'll wear. Then all the clothes you bought for them that you thought were awesome...good luck. Sigh.

  3. I will confess that every time I shop for clothes for E, I want to have a baby girl. The clothes are beyond adorable. Dresses! I want dresses!

    I'm serious. I really do. And then I see C up there in her dress and I start rethinking our "next baby in four years" timeline.

  4. I have been thinking a lot about the gender posts as well. I think it's great to say that you won't force gender stereotypes onto your children, but I also think that sometimes we do it beyond what is healthy, almost going completely the other direction so that there is no concept of gender. I'm not sure that's good either.

    I'm all for pink frilly dresses. And the moment I have a girl she will have the pinkest life ever!

  5. Love this post. LOVE. With a double sparkly pink heart.

    I may have a love/hate relationship with pink clothing for A (not due to any type of 'enlightenment', just due to a genuine dislike of the color... and yet when I put her pink she is sooo cute) but I totally agree with the point you are making.

  6. I think the only feasible position is to be aware and critical of yourself to a reasonable degree, but not to try to force ANYTHING, which is to say, to try to force yourself to be "truly" gender neutral would be...well, impossible and possibly insane in our culture. So you shouldn't force your kid to conform (later, when they express their own ideas about gender) but you also shouldn't force them to be non-conformist for political reasons.

    Henry's wardrobe is primarily butch as fuck, and then we occasionally buy him girl clothes (but not skirts/dresses, because, again, we're not trying to force things to another extreme). Things that have a little sparkle or pretty colors, but that are comfortable and fitting for an baby, someone who doesn't know much yet. Because right now? We make the clothing decisions. When he is older, he can make (some) of them. Yes, they will inevitably be influenced by the decisions that we have already made, that we are making now. But we can't predict what level of influence we really have on children. For example, a girl raised to wear gender neutral clothing only will get bit by the pretty princess bug HARD the minute she becomes remotely aware of marketing/other children, and who is to say that's so horrible? everything is exploration, everything is a phase.

    I mean to say I agree with you about all this stuff here--and it seems unfair that the burden is on parents of daughters, primarily, to avoid pink and what not. We can say that some choices are responsible: I don't dress Henry in clothing with really aggressive sayings, and I wouldn't dress a daughter in something that was highly sexualized. But just opting out of pink or blue to make a statement is, well, it's not wrong (I would support it if the parent seemed reasonable), it's just not necessary.

    This coming from someone who really, truly, believes that there is NOTHING natural about gender expectations. But just because I believe that doesn't mean I smack the trucks out of my son's hands, y'know?

  7. Lol, Megan, I never realized that we had so much in common, but we totally do. I am the biggest tomboy girly girl. :D

  8. Excellent insight, as always, ladies. It's nice to know I'm not alone in the "let's not enforce rigid gender stereotypes of EITHER distinction" category.

    I totally agree that I can only control her for so long, and eventually she'll wear whatever the hell she wants to and choose activities that I might think are beyond lame. I'm okay with that.

    And I'm totally laughing at "butch as fuck". Excellently phrased!