Rose Tinted Standards

Via Feministing I came across this story from the Beeb titled “Should we not dress girls in pink?”
Since this is the Beeb, I think it reasonable to assume they will claim to follow the “unbiased”, “objective”, “fair”, “balanced” mantra of modern journalism. We would, therefore, expect them to provide “both sides of the story”.

Ha! It seems journalistic standards go out the window when it comes to a feminist critique of society.

The article starts off describing how things were colour-gender-wise at the beginning of last century. In order to kick of the imaginary discussion needed for the issue to fit the “he said, she said” reporting template, the article goes on to gives us the arguments from Sue Palmer, who suggests tentatively that all the pink imposed on female children might not be such a good idea.

But some commentators now believe pink dominates the upbringing of little girls, and this may be damaging.

Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, says the “total obsession” with pink stunts girls’ personalities. “I am very worried about it. You can’t find girls over the age of three who aren’t obsessed with the colour. It’s under their skin from a very early age and severely limits choices, and decisions.

“We have got to get something done about the effect marketeers are having. We are creating little fluffy pink princess, an image of girliness, that is very specific and which some girls don’t want to go along with, but due to overwhelming peer pressure, are having to conform to.”

Interesting. Tame, for my standards, but it gets the point across that something could be a bit off.

The imaginary discussion continues with the opposite arguments made by Mr Gurian. And it goes on. And on. I won’t reproduce them here because they are made up of the same old “everything is peachy” tosh that feminists encounter approximately 14826 times every day.

By the end of the article, Mr Gurian’s name has been mentioned 6 times. Ms Palmer’s? Only twice. Mr Gurian got 316 words in 13 paragraphs. Ms Palmer,167 words in 4 paragraphs.
What was that about “both sides of the story”? Fairness? Balance? Equality between the genders in today’s society that couldn’t possibly be tainted by pinkness in childhood? By the time one is done reading, even radical feminists will be agreeing with Mr Gurian! After all, he explains his arguments in a very rational, convincing way, while Ms Palmer is barely given time to ring a metaphorical bell.

This would admittedly be a good end to the post, but I have something else to add. What first caught my attention after reading Ms Palmer’s words was this:

”We are creating little fluffy pink princess, an image of girliness, that is very specific and which some girls don’t want to go along with, but due to overwhelming peer pressure, are having to conform to.”

Can you see how she has to resort to the idea of “individual liberties”? In this relativistic world of ours, people’s freedoms cannot be touched. No one can come out and say “this is morally wrong”, because hey, some people like “morally wrong” and anyway, “your wrong might not be my wrong” and “who are you to decide what anyone should like or not like”? So Ms Palmer is practically forced to include the rather obvious fact that “some girls have to conform” so as to get across the idea that someone’s liberties to NOT be pinkified are being trampled on through peer pressure.
This “trick” is one of the very few available to feminists and “progressives” to explain to people that something might be wrong with their sacred choices without having to suffer the accusations of being a dictator. “Your beloved choice is an imposition to other people who do not get to choose”. This topic should probably get a post all on its own, but I wanted to draw attention to it here because in this example it is particularly sad. Children do not have “choices”. Furthermore, the should NOT have choices. It is not up to children to decide what is best for them, colour wise or not. Therefore, children’s preference over a particular shade of colour should not count when discussing what’s best for them. And if the desire for “pink” shouldn’t matter, neither should the desire for “not pink”. The fact that some girls “have to go along with it because of peer pressure” is irrelevant. It’s adults who get to decide, not children.

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18 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Polly Styrene said,

    Gurian says:

    “Everyone is hard-wired with four things – gender, a talent set, personality and differing ability to deal with trauma.

    Bollocks on a ten foot pole.

  2. 2

    marytracy9 said,

    Bollocks indeed.

    Also this “differing ability to deal with trauma” thing kinda bothers me as well. It seems only a few steps away from saying that “trauma isn’t all that important, because some people get over it pretty well”, which is just good old victim blaming.

  3. 3

    marytracy9 said,

    I know this is stating the bleeding obvious but it never ceases to amaze me how human nature is always defined in terms that serve the status quo by those in favour of preserving the status quo and who will claim, all the way, that this is “how things are” “Girls are naturally attracted to pink and femininity and I’m oh so sorry if that affects your worldview” “you can’t do anything about it” “nya nya nya nya nya!”. Even though we all know that in 50 years time they will be singing a completely different tune.

  4. 4

    Polly Styrene said,

    But it’s also JUST NOT TRUE. Brain structures – as I’ve pointed out about a million times – are ‘plastic’ ie they change and adapt to circumstances. That’s why for instance, if you practise a musical instrument, you get better at playing it. You’re not born with the ability to play the piano, it develops, your brain makes new connections every time you do it.

    Ability to deal with trauma is indeed “hard wired”, but it’s dependent on experience and can be altered by a traumatic event or events. If you are in a major traumatic event, your ability to cope with even slight trauma will be hugely diminished. IE you will have post traumatic stress. Which this idiot has clearly never heard of.

  5. 5

    Polly Styrene said,

    Also – missing the point anyone – of course the colour pink itself doesn’t affect anyone. It’s the connotations of girls being told that they must be ‘feminine’ is the problem. Simply dressing a girl in pink won’t affect her one bit.

    I got a clothing catalogue for an ‘outdoorsy’ firm. And in the children’s section the boys were all bike riding, skateboarding, climbing etc . In the girls section it was suggested that though the girls might enjoy getting active in the clothes, that wasn’t compulsory and they were also pretty enough to wear if the girls just wanted to be inactive and sit around looking nice.

  6. 7

    marytracy9 said,

    I know, he’s building up a strawman and then proceeding to dismantle it to look all scienterrific and “profeshiunal”. Of course exposure to a particular colour isn’t harmful! Duh! That’s not what she said, like, at all!

  7. 8

    theladyisequal said,

    I have always been thankful that my mom dressed me in blues (and other colors) many times when I was young. From birth on, she was aware that pink was simply NOT my color.

    I am appalled whenever I go to the toy store. An entire AISLE is pink. Who came up with this? 😦

  8. 9

    marytracy9 said,

    Toy manufacturers and producers of general crap? I’m not 100% clear on this, but it seems to me that having two kinds of toys for children will more revenue than only having one generic kind.

    I grew up with my brother, so that meant a good chunk of the toys were shared and had to be either neutral or “male”.

  9. 10

    Level Best said,

    I am getting to the point where I flinch at the phrase “hard-wired.” It’s been used many times as a preface to telling girls and women what to be and do and that there’s something terribly wrong with them if they don’t be or do it. Alternatively, it’s used a lot as a preface to assure men they simply can’t help doing the selfish and harmful stuff they do.

  10. 11

    Polly Styrene said,

    Actually I look really good in pink, it suits my skin tone. But only fuschia pink, not wishy washy pink.

    If you read Gurian’s website, he believes that girls are born with all their gendered conditioning already in place. That’s the only reason he believes dressing them in pink doesn’t affect them. Because being girly is ‘hardwired'(It’s that word again) anyway.

  11. 12

    marytracy9 said,

    I know what you mean, Level Best. I’m beginig to think that men like the phrase so much because it contains the word “hard”. Ugh. I wish they had the honesty to come out and say “we think that only what we want to be hard-wired is actually hard-wired”.

    I absolumelutely LURVE pink! More precisely the colour you can see in my kitty (half arsed) avatar. It’s my pathetic attempt at retaining my childishness. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna support sexist bollocks that claims “female children are “hard wired” to like precisely what marketeers want them to so it really doesn’t matter that they have so much power over children, how conveninet”.

  12. 13

    marytracy9 said,

    And that reminds me of the second point I was making. It doesn’t matter one bit whether children “like” pink or are “pressured” to like it. It’s not up to children to decide what toys they get, or the world in which they live. If it were up to children, they would probably be running around naked eating candy all day long.
    Wake up, people! Children are NOT “consumers”. Which is exactly what the marketeers are turning them into because it’s exactly what they want them to be. The way they defend tah “pinkness” is inequivocal proof of that.

  13. 14

    citywood said,

    Good points all around. The whole pink-girl blue-boy shit is completely and utterly fucking irrational!!

  14. 15

    Donna said,

    It’s occurred to me recently that a lot of men won’t wear pink simply because they think it’s a “girl’s” color! When in fact it’s simply another color, like yellow or green or orange or red or purple….it’s just ANOTHER COLOR.

  15. 16

    Lara said,

    Hey MaryTracy, long time no visit (on my part), but glad to be back. Yeah, this hyper-individualism and obsession with (illusory) choices for women and girls drives me up the wall. We need to get back to a discourse in which ethics and humanitarian views are central to the way we judge whether something is right or wrong, not this libertarianesque (my choices waa waaa) approach to everything.
    I am not sure how much I agree with your saying that children should not make any choices on their own though. Children need room to grow and develop, and they are much smarter than we adults give them credit for. Plus, if you as an adult try to constantly tell a child what to like or not like, it will have really adverse effects on the kid growing up.

  16. 17

    marytracy9 said,

    “We need to get back to a discourse in which ethics and humanitarian views are central to the way we judge whether something is right or wrong, not this libertarianesque (my choices waa waaa) approach to everything.”

    Couldn’t agree more, Lara.
    And you are absolutely right about children having to develop and learn to make their own choices. I may have come too strong just to get the point across (I also didn’t want the post to last forever). You and I can argue about this, of course, because we are more or less on the same page. Meaning, amogst other things, that we have children’s best interests at heart. However, if we were trying to make our point in, say, the mainstream media we would have to state, point blank, that no, children do not get to choose and it’s parents who get to decide what’s best for them. The oh-so-sacred freedom of children to “make choices” would be thrown at us to keep us quiet for a very real reason: children are much easier to manipulate. Which is exactly what corporations have in mind with their cry of “let children choose”. We know that this translates into “let us manipulate them”. They cannot say that, of course, so they bring up the “freedom to choose”. Our best strategy would be to go on strong and ask the corporations to bugger off. Do I agree that it leaves children in a somewhat unfair place, perhaps to the point of oppressing them. But it is a useful argument, I think, to bring corporations accountable for the fuckedupness of children and to force them to stop it.
    It’s all just a matter of strategy, really. 😉

  17. 18

    Lottie J said,

    i know this post is old, but children don’t get to choose what color dress to wear? seriously? children don’t have personal liberties? why would anyone take feminism seriously with such a hypocritical stance? feminists started the whole stupid “choice” debate and muddied the philosophical waters with that sophistry. and now you want to complain about it when children might get a choice? ridiculous.

    well, good luck taking back the moral debate with such a pessimistic view of children and their abilities. “women first” isn’t an ethical position. it’s just another moral dictatorship and probably very detrimental to all the girls, i.e. future women, of the world. who aren’t even allowed to choose their favorite color dresses. good grief.


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