In Defense of Pink?

2 12 2011

So last night while I was waiting in the peds office for bears’ second set of immunizations, I started a post about the gendering of science kits. Before I continue with the post let me me pause here to tell you all how much I HATE immunizations. I absolutely positively feel horrible watching my little baby scream and cry while looking at me with those eyes pleading me to make the bad person stop poking them with sharp needles stop. I HATE not being able to make them stop. It breaks my heart how my baby knows what is coming, how s/he is so scared that sound isn’t coming through hir open mouth.  IT BREAKS MY HEART.

But I still go. I will go again at 6 months and 18 months.  Because although it is ALOT of pain for about a 1 min, it is the right and safe thing to do. Its being a responsible parent.

Anyway, while at the doctors office, I began a post in the defense of gendering some toys. Or more specifically I asking the question of whether or not its a way to expand horizons.  Lucky for you guys, wordrpress app on my galaxy tablet ate my draft AND  Doc Freeride has beat me to the punch this morning, with a much more eloquent analysis of the question than I could do.

I just want to say that there is no one way to get girls involved in science. I remember when I was involved with the women in science group, many women talked about “prettying up” science to get more girls interested. I rail against the idea that pretty is important, but at the same time our culture overwhelms us with the idea.  I LOVED pink. I still love purple and many girly things. Some of older posts, when I was in oldPhD lab discussed the frustration of how I was perceived not to be a good scientist because of my looks and the fact that I liked fashion.   As a mom to both a girl and a boy, I struggle with how to move away from gender stereotypes that are so reinforced.

Everytime I enter a toy store I am overwhelmed with gendering. The toys are clearly marked into boys and girls sections. With girls having dolls, vacuums, baking stuff etc. Boys get the lego, trucks and tools etc .  Toy doctor kits etc are also gendered into blue and pink.  I have often wished for trucks to be put in the girls even if they are pink.

Now that monkey is into Lego, I’ve noticed how lego is almost exclusively marketed to boys. The majority of LEGO products are marketed for boys, except for duplo and belville. I remember liking lego when I was a kid, but I wanted to build a house for my barbie.  Would I be estatic if some of the lego people in the City Lego, Dragon or Heroica were girls / woman ? HELLS YES! Am I happy to have the option of buying belville? yes.  Because even though it reinforces the idea that to be girls must be feminine, its still lego and it will enable my daughter to get the same benefits that lego provides. It just sucks that my children are so limited in there choice of “appropriate” play.

And it sucks that feminine = girly = bad. Its a battle I constantly fight within myself when I worry about my bear growing up to be girly. Why do I think its bad? Being girly isn’t bad, because I AM girly. I LOVE my shoes, fashion, clothes. I also LOVE my sports, athleticism, computers, math and science. These are all girly things. These are all feminine things.

Really what it all comes down to, is that over the last 10 years our society has moved more and more towards valuing material possessions and looks over morals and who a person is. What I want for both my children is that they have strong sense of who they are. They value how they treat others, especially those less fortunate and their intelligence over what they look like or possess.




12 responses

2 12 2011

I notice this a lot in toy stores (and kids clothing stores too). I really want to get Evan at kitchen set at some point, but it’s hard not to find one that’s pink or “girlie” somehow. But, then I think, should it matter if he plays with something that is pink/girlie? And it shouldn’t…but for some reason it does, and I hate that I can’t seem separate the two, even though logically I know it shouldn’t matter.

2 12 2011

What Alyssa says it the other thing that makes me annoyed (the first is what you write about SM) since it seems to be “okish” for a girl to play with lego aka tomboy etc but for a boy to walk around with a barbie? or kitchen with pink cup cakes? naaahh.., let’s not make the “man” more of a “girl [we all know what happens then, right?!*]

I would love to be able to find some clothes with trucks on for example, but in pink…. since that would at least make it possible for girls to have toys “in between”.

As for Lego, there was a big NEWS thing in Sweden/Denmark a year ago when they looked through the Lego magazines and only saw boys boys boys… and that it was very clearly gendermarked towards boys and not girls.

*i’m not going to write it since it makes me mad

2 12 2011

Alyssa – Ikea actually has some cool kitchen sets that are neither “girly” or boyish. Their wood with primary colors – I LOVE them as does monkey. I think its hard not to separate it, its been easier for me knowing that I wanted monkey to be in touch with his “girly” side. Both of monkey’s daycares has lots of girls so he’s always had his hair tied, nails painted, and played with dolls. he was playing with a doll once when my BIL tried to put him down for it. I simply said that monkey was practicing being a dad -> shut him right up!

Chall – I’ve been lucky again, in that Mr.SM is a “metrosexual” and has always loved bright colors himself. He wears lots of pink and thinks nothing of it. I remember the DC lady once mentioning that she’s send monkey home in leopard print tights as that always makes that “dads” remember to bring a change of clothes. Mr.SM looked at me dumbfounded as to why monkey wearing leopard print should phase him. Heres’ hoping parental influence is stronger with my kids!

2 12 2011
Janet D. Stemwedel (@docfreeride)

I am sad that your post got eaten — I think more voices exploring this is how we actually change things for the better! (*Waves at Edmund Scientific*)

Both my kids are girls, but the eldest has decided compulsory femininity is a crock, while the youngest is currently a pretty pink princess (who is also a fearsome soccer player and has recently taken up football with the boys). Both love science (and are good at it). And neither had better encounter a teacher who gives her a hard time about pursuing science OR about being too girly/not girly enough. Because that teacher will rue the day!

And, if I had boys, I’d like to believe that I’d take the same stand.

3 12 2011

OK. What does it say that I somehow assumed your kids were boys, Freeride? You never refer to their gender in your Friday sprog posts, do you? The stereotypes are so ingrained that even a female scientist concludes that kids talking about science are boys. Terrible.

SM, maybe having a boy and a girl in your house will open up the possibilities to both.

3 12 2011

SM: Some milipore centricons now come in pink boxes (I don’t know if the centricons themselves are now pink). I thought it was a positive development and it was interesting to see how underwhelmed and upset my male colleagues were.

4 12 2011

Yael: I thought the pink boxes from Millipore was a “November is Breast Cancer awerness month” promo… I might be wrong though?

5 12 2011

I have emailed Lego chastising them for the lack of options. My girl has gone into the Lego store on multiple occasions with money to spend and walked out empty-handed because nothing interested her. What annoys me about the Belville sets is how lame they are. They are not building sets.

I actually got a decent reply. The Lego PR dude said that they were including more girl minifigures in sets (which is a HUGE issue for my daughter) and I have noticed better girl options in the build-a-minifigure bins. At least we can find girl hair now. It’s still not enough.

I’d encourage everyone to click on: and send a complaint.

5 12 2011

Chall: Ah–ok. I saw them on a co-worker’s bench–I don’t use them right now and didn’t look closer at the packaging. Still, the guys’ aghast reaction was enlightening (did not make me think more highly of them). I hope they keep the pink though.

5 12 2011

First, the pink Milipore centricons sound cool. I haven’t seen any.

Second–my older girl is totally pink sparkly princess girl. The younger one (2 years younger) goes right for the fire trucks, trains, cars etc. We never consciously pushed either one in either direction. The “tomboy-ish” one has simply been that way from the start; right now she’s so obsessed with becoming a firefighter when she grows up that we bought her an expensive firefighter costume for Christmas =)

I saw a “perfume-making kit” at the toystore that was marketed as an educational science kit that would teach girls about chemicals. I rolled my eyes at it, but if it really does spark a little girl’s interest in chemistry, why not? Although to tell the truth, I am not impressed with most of the science kits I’ve seen. Not much theory or explanation in many of them, just gee whiz-mix-things-together-and-isn’t-that-kinda-cool. (The Magic School Bus germ kit is cool, though).

9 12 2011

I also assumed that the sprogs were male, very bad on my part.
I would encourage EVERYONE to email Lego as well
I thought the pink centricons have been around for awhile. I know our research associates hates them as she finds it harder to see DNA in them, mind you she despises all colored centricons….

Yeal – welcome to the blog!

23 12 2011
12 months of ScientistMother « ScientistMother: raising replicates

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