Pink is for Girls – #ThePrompt

The Prompt is a fantastic link up designed to inspire you to write, brainchild of the lovely MumturnedMom. This week’s Prompt is:

Pink is for girls.

I’ve written about this a little bit before – when I was musing about toys in particular in my post ‘different toys for girls and boys‘ and honestly that post opened up a whole world of ideas and thoughts and questions in my busy brain.

So many thoughts that it’s difficult to extract them one by one and write them down but I will give it a go. I apologise in advance for going off at tangents!

Gender stereotypes exist in our culture. They have ALWAYS existed. Will they always continue to do so? The nature of said stereotypes have varied from culture to culture at different times. There have been matriarchal societies and patriarchal societies with each gender fulfilling different roles and therefore the gender stereotyping in that particular culture has reflected this.

Yikes I feel like I am back in cultural studies at Uni, or worse my boring Sociology A level!

Our culture has a long history of the subordination of women. Of women not having equal rights to men. We have thankfully come a long long way forward with this and many things are much more equal now. But, even with the increased freedom and the rights that women have, we still have Gender Stereotypes. There are still ‘manly’ things and ‘girly’ things. It starts when you are tiny. Pink and Blue. Cars or Dolls. Etc.


A girly toy?

There’s a part of me that rebels against this, and as I have mentioned in my previous post Monkey plays with all sorts of toys, girly or otherwise. His bedroom is yellow. We don’t want to stereotype him. BUT we dress him in trousers and not skirts. Some of his clothes have dinosaurs or trucks on them because that is what is sold as ‘boy’ clothing. If we have a  little girl I’m sure she’ll wear a lot of his hand me downs (to save money) but no doubt she will have some prettier things too.

There was an article not too long ago about parents who dressed a little boy in a Tutu and said they were trying to raise him as ‘gender neutral.’ Part of me thinks ‘good for you’ while another part of me feels sorry for the little boy, because is it really possible to raise your child in a gender neutral way, when the society we live in is not gender neutral? Is it fair on them to expose them to potential ridicule by parts of society rather than to protect them from it?

I am all for men and women working having the same rights. I am all for stay at home dads or working mums, of female CEOs and male nursery nurses (I am just coming up with some random examples here). No I don’t like stereotypes that pigeon hole people, I don’t want Monkey growing up in a world where something ‘girly’ is bad. I don’t want him thinking that girls are less intelligent than boys (as a SAHM I worry about his female role models) or that boys are less caring or sensitive than girls. My hope is that I can nurture him so he feels he can be whatever he ‘wants’ to be, rather than what society tells him he should be.

But it’s not entirely up to me. I can’t keep him cocooned in a world of my making. He watches TV and will read books and magazines that portray the stereotypes I hate. He interacts with other children who have their parents’ values. I know of parents who use the gender stereotype of ‘boys will be boys’ to gloss over the fact that they are aggressive or hit other children. Or on the flip side when a girl turns on the taps at the slightest knock and are immediately cuddled and cooed over because they are a girl.

I don’t want monkey to be aggressive or over-sensitive. He usually laughs when he falls over (unless he really hurts himself) and he is learning that hitting is always wrong – even if someone else hit you first. But it isn’t my place to enforce my values on other parents and their children. (Who even says that I am right and they are wrong? I certainly don’t know for certain!) Everyone has to do what they believe is right and because of the gender stereotypes embedded in our culture, many parents teach their children (maybe even unintentionally?) that they are correct. I can try and teach him why I believe them to be wrong,  but I can’t choose what he believes or decide his opinions for him. 

Should our society even be gender neutral? Men and Women are different. Our bodies and physiology are different. In the broadest terms we do have ‘different’ skills. Men are often physically stronger than most women. Women have the physical ability to produce children and breastfeed. We are physically different, and men and women are ‘said’ to have different cognitive abilities. Such as multi-tasking, or spacial awareness (though of course things like this vary from person to person and can’t always be simplified down to one gender does this, another does this. maybe that’s the point?). We are different so why not celebrate that and be proud of the gender we are?

I also wonder where it ends, should we all wear the same androgynous clothing? Have the same haircuts? Should none of us (men or women) wear clothes that flatter our figures? Should we not care about looking nice? That opens up a whole other avenue of thoughts and do we only care about looking nice because of the objectification of bodies and the sexualisation of our culture and I guess the two are linked but I won’t go down that road for now!

I rejoice at the small steps taken by groups such as “Let toys be toys” which tries to take away some of the gender stereotyping that influences our children from such a young age. But I feel that these are just tiny chinks in a huge wall that will take many years to knock down. I also worry about what happens when the wall is down? What are we left with?

I don’t know the answers and if I’m honest what I think about it isn’t really fully formed. i guess some kind of middle ground… but what would that consist of and who decides?

Interesting debate though eh? What do you think? Is pink for girls?

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30 thoughts on “Pink is for Girls – #ThePrompt

  1. Wonderful post and I agree with you I do not think that one thing should be more for girls than boys or more for boys than girls, especially not a colour.
    For example when it comes to a gays, is a male gay just because he likes pink or purple?! I think (just like you) everyone should be able to like what they want and be who they want to be!!
    My fiancés favourite colour is purple and so is my daughters, you wouldn’t believe how fun this makes shopping for clothes!!!
    Again wonderful post!!! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thank you and you’re exactly right – I absolutely hate that kind of stereotyping! Ha ha aww that’s cute 🙂 Thank you very much and I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 xx

  2. Such a big topic, you raise a lot of thought provoking points. I too felt a bit sorry for the boy with parents trying to raise him gender neutral as it felt like an experiment he had had no say in participating in.

  3. Fantastic post, exactly what I hoped this weeks Prompt might inspire 🙂 I think you are absolutely right that a middle ground is difficult to define, because boys and girls are different, we can’t pretend that they’re not. But, some are more different than others because people are all different, regardless of gender. The problems arise with the negative connotations that seem to be attached to ‘pink’, but boys are discouraged from ‘typically’ female roles in the same that woman are discouraged from (or at least not actively encouraged into) male roles. Like you, I could have written a lot more on this, I may well come back to it! Thank you so much for linking to #ThePrompt xx

    • Thank you! I nearly just linked up my previous post about it, but I had so many thoughts swimming around my head that i just had to write it! It really is so difficult because I don’t know what the best outcome would be. Positive stereotypes rather than negative ones? But then can any stereotype be positive because it is a stereotype?? I find it a really interesting topic so thank you very much for an excellent prompt! 🙂 xx

  4. Great post – it is a tricky subject. I think a lot of people would say they don’t want to encourage gender stereotypes but like you say, they are everywhere and difficult to avoid.

    • Thank you. That’s the problem isn’t it? It would need everyone and everything to change all at once, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon! xx

    • Thank you, it’s silly that we are ‘told’ that toys like that are only for girls – when there’s no reason why boys can’t enjoy them! xx

    • Thank you, it’s good that you can help change these stereotypes in schools but it’s such a difficult cultural thing to change! xx

  5. Boys love playing with toys that are deemed ‘girly’ and I don’t see what the big problem is, society has a lot to answer for. Even now, my 10 year old boy will play with his younger sister’s toys and I’m happy to let him #mmwbh

    • Exactly, I don’t see there’s any harm in it, seems so silly that we are ‘told’ that some things are for boys and others for girls! xx

  6. I have 5 boys and 2 girls and have gone for the “each child is different and an individual” approach so if one of the boys wanted a doll, we bought it and equally if one of them wanted to wear head to toe camo and carry guns in the end, even though it was not something I liked or approved of we let him and he soon grew out of it by himself. So I have 7 very different children who seem to be secure in being whonthey are, even if that is different to their class mates.

    • Sounds like you have a fab approach and some very well rounded children – exactly what I hope for with Monkey. That’s all we can hope for really isn’t it? xx

  7. Pink is for anyone who wants it to be for them :).
    I have an issue with the pinkification of girls because I don’t like the idea that my daughters are being so limited but imagine if I had a son I wouldn’t like him to feel limited and socialised to avoid pink either.
    It’s so complex and engendered in society it’d be great to see it all destroyed and all colours would be equal 😀 haha!

    Loved this post thanks 🙂

  8. I would never stop my child from liking something because it was the wrong color, or for boys or girls or whatever. I do dress my wee girl very feminine, she loves pink and princesses, but she also loves playing with her brothers toys and that’s great. I would say I have an anything goes policy, if it makes them happy it shouldn’t matter about gender stereotypes!

  9. I love this post. You are so right on some many levels. It’s not up to us, society has depicted this for us. I think if we tried to raise our children gender neutral we are setting them up to be made fun of in school, and to stand out. By trying to make a point we are actually giving them the possibility to have a tough childhood with other children. Let’s face it children can be mean in school! Saying that I would let them wear or have girl or boy toys or pink for Buba and blue for MM if they wanted. I will leave the decision to them. Buba’s favorite color is purple. So it’s already started but it was his choice. He also loves playing with Missy Moo’s dolls. She loves his cars! So maybe by choice society will slowly change. Let’s hope. Thank you so much for linking up to SHARE WITH ME I enjoyed getting to know more about you and your lovely blog. I hope to see you again soon.

    • Thank you and I hope you’re right, I hope things will change gradually because of those of us who are raising our kids to be more free in their choices. Pleasure and I will join in again 🙂 xx

  10. I personally hate the pink v blue thing and try and be as neutral as possible with J…by which I mean I try to let him be himself. I think that’s what it should really be about, letting child be themselves.

    OH and I disagree to some extent…as if he wants to go off with something girly then I let him…although now he is older it has become more a case of helping him to be aware of societal expectations (i.e. not doing stuff that is going to lead to him being bullied or teased) and yet letting him be a unique individual.

    Personally don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating difference, equal but different as they say!

    Thought provoking post, #Brillblogposts.

    • Thank you and I have to agree with a lot of your opinions too. I wish it wasn’t something we had to worry about but not sure there is an easy solution. Thanks for the comments 🙂 xx

  11. Brilliant post (so fitting you linked)-I’m all about gender neutral toys, films, games too and don’t believe there should be marked differences-kids should be free to be kids without restrictions and pigeon holes.

    My boys wear bright clothes, a lot of red and yellow and I make all colours including pink available to them. I am appalled about the whole lego debacle watering down role models and opportunities with their ridiculous girl-specific toys and hope things will change. They better. Thanks for linking up.

    • Thank you, and I agree. I’d love for things to change too, I just wonder if/when they will! Thanks for hosting! xx

  12. I agree with a lot of what you say here. Toys should not be classified ad girls or boys toys at all. Toys are just toys. That said, my daughter has a lot of pink toys at home, but she also has blue toys, green toys and purple toys (you get the idea). Any colour of toys that grab her eye or imagination are what she plays with. Pirates and princesses, trains and tutus. She chooses which. At the moment her favourites are trains, pirates, sharks and dinosaurs. I tend not to dress her in pink but again she has every colour of clothes to choose from. Her room is pink, but only because she asked for that colour when we decorated it a few weeks ago (she’s a bossy two year old)! When we come to decorate again she will get to choose the colour scheme again. She doesn’t associate pink with girls or being girly or any of that nonsense. It’s just a colour she happens to like. I have a funny feeling that if I had boycotted pink toys/clothes my little bossy boots would have been all the more keen to play with these forbidden items! I feel as long as I go along with an anything goes attitude there won’t be a problem. I might be wrong, but I really don’t know.

    • I like your attitude and I think that’s how it should be, anything goes! Despite all his ‘girly’ toys, Monkey’s favourites by far are his cars. We haven’t engineered it this way but he likes what he likes and that is fine with me. Thanks for the very thoughtful comment 🙂 xx

Thanks for taking the time to write something. I love comments and read every one xx

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