A particular Huffington Post article has been making the rounds on my Facebook this week. It's mostly a great article, and it's been bringing a ton of attention to one of my biggest pet peeves, which is awesome. The hook is an adorable Lego ad from 1981:
The LEGOs are not pink or "made for girls." She isn't even wearing pink.
Aaaarrrggghhh!! Pink isn't the problem! Why does it matter if she's wearing pink, or not wearing pink? Pink is not our enemy. Girls should be able to wear pink if they want to! Why do people, whenever they respond to this kind of problem (and I see it all the time) think that eliminating the pink toys is the solution?
Why is there never any outrage that pink wasn't included in the original Lego set? I dare you to find a gender-neutral toy that includes pink. Or is all pink. It's nearly impossible. I can't dress my son in pink. But I can damn sure find blue clothes and toys meant for girls. Why? Why are we so afraid of pink? Is it because it's associated with feminine, and we are scared of feminine becoming the norm?
We use feminine words as insults all the time:
"You throw like a girl"
"Don't get your panties in a twist"
"Quit being such a pussy"
And we imply that a loss of manhood is the worst thing that could happen to a man:
"Turn in your man card"
"Did someone put your balls in their purse?"
Jessica Valenti, in Full Frontal Feminism wrote:
“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now.
You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank. Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.” Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.”
And it's true! Even the majority of our vulgar and insulting words equate to a woman's genitalia! I won't list them, but I'm sure you can think of plenty.
In Chicago several years ago, there was a contest to pick a new color to represent the newest train line. A young girl wrote an essay advocating for the color pink. “Who does not like pink?" she asked. "It’s so bright and lively … if it’s pink people will want to ride it.” The CTA agreed with her, and The Pink Line was born. And with it came outrage on the part of many Chicagoans. From Salon:
A pink train would be humiliating to the good people of Chicago. We are the hardworking, meat-eating, bar-brawling, sports-loving, dirty-politicking, multiple heart attack-surviving hog butcher for the world! We are men, except for the slightly more than half of us who are not! And you expect us to pay good money to ride on something called the “Pink Line”? Why not just put a tutu on the Sears Tower, or fill Soldier Field with tampons, or come to my house and cut my balls off?
And there, I think, is the real problem. It's not so much that we now offer almost exclusively pink (and purple!) toys to girls. It's that we don't offer them to boys. And by doing so, by leaving pink out of all gender-neutral items, out of all "boy" toys, we are teaching both boys and girls that pink is an other.
That only someone who is less-than will want pink. Pink has been made to represent the underlying hatred our society has for all things feminine, and that sucks. Because I like pink. And I like girly things. And that makes me no less capable than anyone else.
I just wish society would agree with me on that.
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