Many of my feminist friends who have little boys have given in to the reality that their toddlers love things with wheels. While they will provide their children with a wide array of choices, wheels win out. This, of course, is perfectly fine. Wheels needn’t be branded; they just move and occasionally make noise. If it keeps the little darlin’ quiet and out from underfoot, all the better.
Only a few of my friends have little girls, so their propensity toward certain toys remains uncertain. If the daughters who squeal through my store on any given Sunday are anything to go on, however, then animals are the go-to item. Anything pink also seems to grab their attention and if it has glitter, well, the battle for gender neutrality seems lost. At least this is the sentiment some mums have when they reluctantly purchase very pink glittery books (often featuring Barbie) for their wide-eyed children. Mum grimaces at the book, looks down at the cherub, confirms that this is in fact what she wants to read, sigh, and hands me $5.24 with tax. This transaction is completed with what appears to be an apologetic look to me as if to say, “I tried and failed to raise a non-stereotypical girly-girl. I’m a bad mum.”
I’m sure my mum had the same expression once upon a time when I announced I wanted a pink bedroom—and got it. Oh, how I loved princess books and Barbie—and I got those as well (driving the children’s librarian at Bendale library nutty, I’m sure.) I even wanted to be a ballerina. Mum drew the line there, correctly convinced it was too expensive, would ruin my feet, and that my interest lie in tutus not pirouettes.
When I admit my childhood love of pink and princesses, I tell them that I grew out of it, that it won’t last forever, and that dinosaurs, bicycles, and playing the mud took over at about age six. In other words, stay vigilant, Mum, and be ready for grass stains and bruised shins.
Yes, pink is for little girls. Not for grown women. Sadly, some adult females and those who market to us need reminding of this. For many, shopping is a chore, not a hobby. While I like pretty clothes and shoes, they don’t define me. I’d like to think my character is more dynamic than that. Yes, I enjoyed Sex in the City, but if I were to pick a female character to emulate it would be Gwen Cooper from Torchwood. She has much more going on than any of the stick-like stereotypes from the hit rom-com. And I would wager she likes her beer brown not pink.
Globe and Mail columnist Katina Onstad seems to agree. In her recent piece, ““What Women Don’t Want: Pink Beer, Pink Cars, a New Pink Ghetto,” she argues against the infantilization of women by marketing execs. Apparently, we won’t buy a smartphone or a hockey shirt or a beer unless it’s pink.
Why would an adult woman want to be treated like a child when she can, in fact, birth one? Why would she buy into the cult of pinkness in order to combat a very adult disease such as breast cancer? You want me to buy your phone, tell me about what it can do, not how goddamn “cute” it is. You want me to buy your beer, leave the inflate-a-babes out of the ad campaign.
Honestly, it’s not that hard.