adventures of beck

Monday, September 14, 2015

Recovering Pinkophobe

I'm struggling. For as long as I can remember, I've disliked the color pink. Or at least, I thought I did. It started somehow when I was very young. Perhaps it's all the power of association. Children who liked pink didn't play sports. They didn't like to get dirty. They didn't like to run. (Probably because they were wearing matching shoes that didn't suit fast movement.) They liked to shop, and play princesses, and wear skirts. Yuck.

See what I did there? I said "children who liked pink." Looks incongruous, doesn't it? Obviously only girls are supposed to like pink. So of course, if you were female, and you didn't like pink, or dresses, or princesses, then you were a "special" type of girl. You were a tomboy. You weren't a girly girl. You were sporty. You were boyish. Egads. Label much?

Between the labeling and the color coding, I became a believer in the black and white nature of our gendered world. Black and white of course being Pink & Purple vs Every Other Color.

I'm fighting through the social construct in my brain to realize: I don't hate pink. It's just a color. It's been linked to being feminine, which has been linked to being slower, less strong, less capable, less interesting, quieter, less funny, and just plain "less." What a bunch of shit.

The entire division between "men" and "women" and "girls" and "boys" is a bunch of crap. They're all just humans. The labeling is used to define an expectation. It's as silly as "whites" and "coloreds" because really... is anyone actually measuring the amount of color in a person's skin to come up with those terms? Gender is a joke. It harkens back to a division of resources, a division of power. If you have a uterus: I expect you to bake and take care of the kids. If you have a penis: I expect you to use large, heavy, sharp tools and hunt. It's crap, all crap.

Quick! Cover the female baby in pink-hearted onesies so everyone will know she's a girl. Everyone will then know how to treat her! As if one can really treat a baby differently based on their sex. Here's an idea: treat the baby like a baby. Love them and make silly noises and feed them and change their diaper.

Quick! Give the female toddler pink toys! And pink clothes! And pink blankets! Then we'll all KNOW she's a female. With a tiny uterus. And a tiny, belated right to vote. And a projected smaller salary. If I think that toddler is a male, I might accidentally teach that toddler to fight back when they are threatened. I might teach that toddler to play rough! I might teach that toddler to play ball, or be brave. If I know she's a female then I can read her princess stories about other females who focus on meeting external beauty standards set by others, or not thinking critically about the world.

Quick! Give that male preschooler a backpack decorated in dump trucks! Then I'll know he's a male! If that preschooler has hearts on their backpack, I won't know what toys to give them. Or what expectations to have of their handwriting. Or where to send them in the library. As if hearts are something male preschoolers don't have. Hearts are something male preschoolers shouldn't use? Love isn't something available to all preschoolers?

I suppose you could cut right to it and give out blankets and clothes at baby showers covered with tiny prints of uteruses or penises. I mean if we are that bent on knowing how to treat someone based on their sex, why are we letting euphemisms stand in our way? Insidious, isn't it?

For everyone else out there who thinks you should be able to bake a pie and put it in your pickup truck, drive it to your sewing class and share it with all your friends who meet there after football practice, I have a suggestion. Let's let colors be colors, toys be toys, activities be activities, and love be love. Throw gender in the garbage. It's an antiquated system that separates us. Treat everyone like a human being.

As for me, I need to learn to see pink as a color, not an expectation. Blue cargo shorts are not an all-access pass to being on the "powerful side." I'll need to learn to fight for equal rights without buying into the crap propaganda at the same time. I don't need to be "one of the boys." I don't need to eschew dresses. Sometimes dresses are nice. Like when it is super hot, or you're pregnant. Or both. Men the world over would probably love to wear them when it's hot.

Can't wait until John Oliver runs a segment on gendered expectations... "How is this still a thing?"


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