I’m sorting through my son’s baby clothes in preparation for a daughter. Sleepers, onesies, pants, sweaters, itty-bitty socks. I have everything I need. Hooray, money saved for diapers, nipple cream, and wine.
But wait, these sleepers have trucks on them, and these jeans don’t have any sparkles. Surely these blue pants will make my little girl sprout a whopping wang, and this T-Rex t-shirt will grow her a woolly chest ’fro (all dinosaurs were male, obviously).
I love these baby-blue pyjamas with the footballs on them. They’re as good as new, but still people say, “That’s for a boy – toss it!” But…but…I play football! I love blue! I’m a girl, does that mean I shouldn’t be wearing blue or footballs either? Clearly, that’s ridiculous. So why is it not ridiculous that we try so desperately to slap people in the face with our baby’s gender? Not just with colour and patterns but with headbands and hair bows. It’s a baby! She has three hairs! Poor thing just contorted to squish through your Screwez Canal, the joints in her skull are still fusing into place, and now you’re wrapping an elastic, lacy bow around her head too, all so people will know she’s a girl. God forbid someone say, “what a cute boy.” Her feelings would be crushed, if she had any feelings beyond hungry, sleepy, and gassy.
The blues over here, the pinks over there – ‘tis total poppycock, people. The clothes are pint-sized, but the gender divide they create is huge. (And don’t get me started on the toys.) But it’s absurd. It’s wasteful. It’s wrong. Throwing out a perfectly unsoiled diaper shirt with a blue sailboat on it just because my baby was born with a pink canoe, with all the children in the world without shoes – are you effing mad?
But it doesn’t feel all that right on the flip side either, where I find myself rejecting all things fuchsia and frilly. When my mom said she was going to make a pink quilt for her first granddaughter, my immediate response was f*ck pink! But there’s nothing wrong with pink or sparkles or even princesses (as long as the damsel’s not locked in the tower waiting to be rescued by the manly knight – barf). Recoiling from things often loved by girls gets us nowhere fast.
So what’s a feminist mommy to do? Mix shit up, I guess. Blues and pinks, dinosaurs and cupcakes, and everything in between. Let my girl see that everything is for everyone so eventually she can choose for herself, and hopefully pick all of the above; it’s not one or the other. But see, that’s going to be mighty tricky when most parents have swallowed the pink and blue bullshit pills. Chances are, my little girl is going to want to wear what other little girls wear. And that’s probably going to be a pink tutu, every damn day. Worse case scenario, it’ll also say “I love shopping.” Cringe.
No matter how hard I’ve worked to spare Max from the gender gap crap, sometimes he still says things like, “Let’s give Daddy the purple plate so he’ll think he’s a girl.” Like WTF, man? Have you heard nothing I’ve said these past five years? Clearly mine is not the only voice getting in. The only way to evade the hogwash is to lock him up with no TV, no friends, no nutting. And obviously that’d be a flop, unless I like a bit of sociopath sprinkled in with my feminist.
Guys. Guys! It’s all a scheme to sell us stuff. In the 1920s, someone decided blue was for boys and pink was for girls (it was the exact opposite before then!) and the marketing machine went full bore. It’s out of hand now, gone way beyond colour. Just last year, The Children’s Place started selling a t-shirt in the girls section showing a checklist of “my best subjects” with three out of four subjects — shopping, music and dancing — checked, with the words, “well, nobody’s perfect” under “math.” Thankfully, some parents got peeved and the store pulled the sexist shirt. See, they’ll stop making it if we stop buying it. It’s a brilliant plan.
Maybe you like pink and sparkles and princesses, Mommy. But maybe your little girl will like blue and soccer and space, or a stupendous stir-fry of all of the above. So why not go neutral more often so she can find her own way. And for the love of god, take a stand against the “shopping over science” shirts so she grows up believing she can solve the problems of the world with her brains, not a magic wand.
This article was previously published in the November edition of The Overcast. TheOvercast.ca