Thirty-odd years ago, I was born into a world where a woman ran the country and that simple fact made me feel that one day I could do the same if I wanted. My daughter has been born into a world where there is now a pink version of Lego just for girls and Paris Hilton is somehow a role model.
I have a rule that Squeak is not allowed pink – not on clothes, not on toys, not on bags or plates or, well… anything. I have no problem with her having things which are feminine, but I do have a problem with the pinkification of being a girl. Some of my friends think it is ridiculous. They tell me that Squeak will rebel and want to be like her peers and have nothing but pink as soon as she is old enough to have an opinion and that may be true. They say that I’m the one being sexist because I let Quibble wear blue, but that is where difference lies.
Quibble has some blue clothes, but he also has orange, red, green, brown and yellow. His toys are a variety of bright primary shades. If you ask him his favourite colour, it changes every time. But it is almost impossible to buy anything for Squeak which doesn’t have at least some pink in it and there are pink versions of toys which aren’t even particularly gendered; tricycles, pianos, trampoline, shape sorter, art table, sandpit, ballpool… In many ways, the fact that I have to actively seek out non-pink items makes me even more determined, because it really shouldn’t be this difficult to want your child to know more than one colour.
I need Squeak to know that just because there is a pink version, doesn’t mean that if things aren’t pink they are only suitable for boys. And for me, taking pink out of the equation makes things much more gender neutral. Because yes, she’s a girl, but she’s also so much more than just a gender.
She will be a person in her own right. She will be the product of her upbringing. She will be influenced by her age, by the media and by her friends. She may become an engineer, like her father, or a teacher, like her mother. She might be very into crafts or cooking or reading or dolls and I would accept any of those (Quibble has tried all these). But I need her to know that if she wants to watch racing cars or kick a football or climb trees, she can. There’s more than one way to be a girl.
Most importantly, at the moment she’s a baby who has no concept of gender – hers or anyone else’s. She loves making things move; cars, balls, the pages of a book. She loves cuddles and tickles and being thrown up in the air by Stanchion. She just doesn’t wear pink.