SeoWoo and Her Pink
From JeongMee Yoon's "The Pink & Blue Project" (2005 - ongoing)
PinkStinks. What do you think? Is pink in marketing girls' products limiting their worldview? Are we sending a subjugating message to our girls? In this discussion, "pink" likely refers to that isle at Target. The one in which the toys are not only generally pink, but highlight role playing featuring dressing up, housework and childcare. In other words, no pink rocket kits or chemistry sets.
I'm no expert. I just have a very small sample size to judge from, that being my two kids. My girl, for the most part, entered the environment paved by her older brother. Not a lot of fluff and pink. None at all, really. As an infant, if a stranger asked, "Is that a boy or a girl?" I'd answer, "Yes." But that little, little child, less than a year old, if she saw something pink, sparkly and girly-girl, boy, stand back: She wanted it.
Similarly, because she is her brother's sister for life and I'd like those two to develop similar interests, I've exposed them to the same kinds of sports and classes and activities. Their preferences seem to fall right along gender lines. Who is making those preferences? They themselves? Or is there some gender-identity pressure? Nature? Or nurture? The only way I'm going to get Anna to surf is to get her a pink surfboard, that's been established. But she will get that surfboard.
There are physiological differences between boys and girls in addition to the obvious ones. Boys' and girls' brains are different. Girls have a larger copus callosum connecting the right and left brain halves. They also tend to have a larger hippocampus. There is a pretty big body of research suggesting that boys and girls learn differently. Maybe there is something in the hardwiring that makes a child "feminine" or "masculine".
Anecdotally, my girl will say, "That's not for girls!" for something that her brother does or has. My observation is that she and her little friends will say that as a way to differentiate themselves from the boys in their midst, because boys are yucky. Conversely, my son and his grommie friends are totally into hot pink. Maybe because the surfer brands they prefer are having a Flash Dance flashback and are featuring enough neon colors to do Rick Springfield proud. Or maybe they mean it ironically ("Hey guys, I'm wearing pink!" The sardonic undertone being pink is for girls and girls are silly).
When I think of my girl as a princess, I want her to know that as a princess, she is the future regent of her domain.
Frankly, I hope in the future, we'll take gender stereotypes seriously and ourselves less seriously. I think the future should look a bit more like this: