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You probably have seen this video that is making the rounds, of a surprisingly articulate little girl being coached by her Dad through a Socratic discussion on gender marketing of toys.

While I applaud the family for encouraging their kid to think about marketing and gender expectations, I find myself more than a little bit annoyed at all of the people chiming in and trashing on “girls’ stuff” in a me-too attempt to jump on the bandwagon.

If I am to believe the various news features, the little girl in the clip above is four years old. When you are four, your understanding of the world is necessarily limited and a lot of the views you have are formed by the people around you, principally your parents and immediate caregivers. Evidently, her parents are encouraging her to have diverse interests and laying the foundations for logical inquisition and critical thinking.

And kudos to them for that!

But, because she is 4, her opinions are not necessarily her own original thoughts, and they are necessarily simplified, so that if you were to take her word at face value, the message would be that “pink stuff” is no good, and that girls have to be “tricked” into wanting it. There’s also the undertone that because girls have to be tricked into wanting pink stuff, that pink stuff is of lesser value, that “girls’ stuff” is inferior to the superhero stuff for boys. That boys’ stuff is better than girls’ stuff…and whoops, we’ve inadvertently internalized the misogynistic messages of the patriarchy. This is surely not what this kid’s parents were going for, but it is what the blogosphere seems to have extracted from the little girl’s argument.

Now, I completely understand the frustration with running up against the majority of products intended for my sex being in stereotypical girly colors like pink, purple, and powder blue, none of which are amongst my favorites and none of which suit my peculiar sallow complexion (with the exception of the brighter, more coral/salmon/poppy shades of pink). Good god, look at ladies’ cycling gear. It’s a morass of foul pastel shades, and I, for one, won’t buy or wear it. Not because I hate girly stuff, but because I look like I’m about to have a chunder in powder blue.

But the argument I keep seeing across the internet is that girly stuff is crummy. Woman keep insisting that they were tomboys growing up, that they were rough-and-tumble, that they shunned dolls and soft toys and tea parties, and were more at home in a mud puddle with a football and a battery powered monster truck.

And I keep thinking, “revisionist history much?”

Because most of us are a conglomeration of various interests, inclinations, and impulses, I am willing to bet that many of these “tomboy” girls were also into rollerskates, perhaps with rainbow laces and pompoms on the toes. That they had a beloved Cabbage Patch or Care Bear who snuggled down with them every night, and that, when all was said and done, probably had quite a few glittery unicorns in their sticker albums. That doesn’t mean that I doubt their enjoyment of mud puddles and Stomper trucks, because I well know the manifold joys of both.

It means that I question the assertion that Stompers supersede the Barbie Corvette, which was, in fact, pretty fuckin’ rad. I should know – Sis and I had one to share. I used to disassemble Stomper trucks in order to motorize the Barbie car, so that our girlies could roll in automated style.

The thing about denigrating girly stuff is that it devalues the girls who honestly and earnestly enjoy all that is pink and frilly. Many girls wax and wane in their enthusiasm for lacy, fluffy princess dresses and all things glam and gorgeous. Why shit all over some little kid’s taste in Belle and Cinderella when it amounts to nothing more than appreciating a bit of fabulous? Just because she loves Sleeping Beauty now, doesn’t mean that she’s going to expect a whole herd of short guys to be at her beck and call when she’s grown.

Little girls need the message that it’s okay to be fancy and frilly, if they want to, but they don’t have to, either. Just as they need to know that Tinker Toys and Legos are huge fun, and that boys and girls can both enjoy them.

Too many girls get fed the message that girls’ stuff sucks and that girls suck, and get a shitty attitude about other girls. They act like because they have dodged the stereotypical “girly” bullet, that other girls who have succumbed are weak, wimpy, dumb, and no-good-at-all. It just burns my ass when I hear other women say shit like, “I only hang out with guys – other women are all catty bitches,” or “I never was a girly girl….” or in some other way denigrate surface femininity.

When you trash-talk a large swath of your cohort, when you put out the attitude that other women are inferior to yourself, when you dismiss out of hand another woman because she’s wearing pink and has a complicated hairdo, you’re being an asshole. And it’s no wonder that other women react badly to your attitude.

Pink in and of itself, is a color. And color preferences are a matter of personal aesthetics. Yes, your personal aesthetics can be influenced by the culture around you, but if you have been given or have personally acquired the tools to examine the culture around you, then you should be good to determine your own likes and dislikes, and if anyone else has a problem with what you wear or how you present yourself, that that problem is theirs, not yours.

I think the little kid in the original video will eventually have the means to determine for herself whether she wants princesses or superheroes, and I hope that everyone else can bring themselves to such a point, as well.

4 Responses to “And so the girls get *tricked* into buying the pink stuff”

  1. Nellig says:

    Good point.

  2. SewDucky says:

    I was one of those frilly, prissy girls that by necessity had to be a tomboy (happens when you’re the only kid at home and Dad needs help).

    I always preferred red to pink.

  3. Emily says:

    Nice post! For myself, I wish there were more navy-blue-sparkle colored options in this world.

  4. Meetzorp says:

    Navy blue with sparkles sounds pretty.

    I’m all about sparkles, full stop. I’m kind of obsessed with copper metallic these days, myself.

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