I feel like this post is a follow-up to my post about the color purple. Remember that one? I wrote about how the real problem with boys rejecting “girl” stuff is that it is a symptom of how we devalue the feminine. And that devaluation is a part of the larger problem of misogyny in our society.
But hating on girl toys isn’t just for boys. It’s for grown-ups too. Ever talk to an adult who sneered at buying a princess dress or a doll for their daughter? And insisted on only gender neutral or more masculine toys? I have, lots of times. They want their daughters to embrace Legos so they learn engineering, and Star Wars, so the embrace a love of space and adventure.
The Girl loves her some girl toys. She loves to play with her baby dolls and serve me some tea from her alarmingly pink tea set, and then twirl around in a princess dress singing Let it Go. That’s where she finds her joy. So, it makes me go a little mama bear on people when they start shitting on the stuff my daughter likes, and suggesting that the pretend play she is engaging in is the wrong kind of play.
I understand that it gets tricky with kids and marketing and did the kids choose the toys or did the marketers brainwash the kids. And I know that choice and tastes in little kids are more easily influenced than adults. That isn’t really the point, though. The point is that we value the traits of traditionally male things over the traits of traditionally female things. We value engineering over nursing. We pay carpenters more than child care workers.
When The Girl plays with her girl toys, like her baby dolls and her very pink tea set, she is the most kind and thoughtful and loving person. She shares her tea with me. She sings to her baby and feeds it bottles. She invites me to dance with her in her princess gown and tells me I look beautiful. These are behaviors I want her to learn and to practice and to internalize. Hell, I want The Boy to learn and practice and internalize them too, and that’s why I make him play with his sister sometimes–because HER toys teach important skills, just as much as his Legos are teaching him important skills involving engineering and construction.
What worries me is not that The Girl is having too much feminine stuff. Because there is a lot about The Feminine that is awesome. Like nurturing and compassion and empathy and thoughtfulness. What worries me is that The Boy isn’t getting enough of it from his weaponized Legos.
Pink is not the enemy. Having ONLY pink is the enemy. Lack of choice is the enemy. And devaluation of pink is the enemy.
6 thoughts on “In Defense of Pink”
This is a really good point. What really bothers me about some I the “girl” versions of popular toys like Legos isn’t so much that they made them pink and purple but that the subjects of those sets are usually oriented around consumerism. Like, girls don’t want to build cars and airplanes, but a shoe shop? Yes! The messaging to me is still that girls aren’t expected to think about anything “serious”. Just how to use a credit card.
However I totally agree about boys needing to be free and expected to experience the “softer” nurtering play. That may be the next big frontier for feminism – allowing our boys to expand into traditional feminine roles the way girls have expanded into the masculine roles.
“Lack of choice is the enemy”. Nicely put. You have inspired me to offer more choice to my 2 boys.
Thank you, so well put. I was that mom who poo-poo’d pink and frilly things for my baby girl, but then her dad set me straight: “If she wants to play in a princess castle and have tea parties, I’m going to let her do whatever she’s interested in.” And a light bulb went off in my head, and I realized he was right, that it’s our job to support her interests and show her that whatever is important to her has value.
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I’ve got friends who think I should “stand my ground” whenever a grandparent gives T1 a princess shirt. But she loves it. And so what? What ground do I have to stand on? I can’t object to the idea that things that are shiny and pink are pretty and fun to wear. I have pink sparkly shoes. So why can’t T1 have a pink sparkly shirt.
Brilliant as always, my dear! Can we just talk about weaponized Legos more..perhaps over some feminine play? We’re back and mostly recovered from our Midwestern journey and would love to see you guys!
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I love this! LOVE this!! You’re absolutely right. Devaluing the feminine is as much a problem as lack of choice. We need to let our kids be whoever they are–and celebrate whatever they choose!!
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