And blue for the girls

This article from the Smithsonian caught my attention the other day as I was doing a bit of research into the history of gender and color.

“When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?”

It’s not surprising to me that pink for girls and blue for boys is nothing more than a social convention.  When it came to G, we learned that before the age of 6, gender is more fluid–given the opportunity to explore freely, most boys would pick up a doll just as easily as a truck.  By 6, however, we were told G would likely identify strongly as a boy, and social pressure would influence his likes and dislikes.  (We see this starting now with O who clarifies that he is a prince, not a princess, but is at this moment cheerfully playing with his new Belle doll.)  So, what isn’t ‘normal’ about G isn’t that he loves pink but that he persists in pursuing all things pink and sparkly despite harsh social consequences.  That’s why, despite the ‘what’s the big deal?’ protests of parents of pink boys (myself included), the sad reality is that it is big deal.

What really caught my attention, however, is that the article mentions the role of the Women’s Liberation Movement in making it socially acceptable (let’s just say downright cool) for a girl to be tough, play sports, have short hair, and so on.  I wasn’t much of a pink girl.  I never even owned a Barbie.  But had anyone told me that it wasn’t okay for girls to wear jeans, if all the girls I knew were wearing pink dresses, I would have caved and been the pinkest of them all.  In fact, I might even go so far as to say that my rejection of pink and dresses and ballet lessons was a reflection of the social environment of the 70s.

So, now what?   From what I can tell the Men’s Liberation Movement hasn’t made much progress, so it’s up to us with our brand-new generation of boys to start questioning how to be a boy and acknowledge that there are probably as many answers to that question as there are boys allowed the freedom to be themselves.


One Response to And blue for the girls

  1. mark says:

    by the way, I think it was the women’s lib movement that has kept the forward progress of the mens lib movement from making any real strides. This is not in a bad way please don’t misunderstand me. But I think that at the headquarters of the feminist movement there is this basic idea that they CANNOT let men have any more freedoms, becauise their experience is that men already have so much more freedom, and that given more will easily derail the fem movement, and they will not allow that UNTIL they gain that which they think the are shooting for.

    just my take.

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