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Pink is for Boys: I read Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys From the Girls in America for the same reason the author wrote it. She was doing some research on baby clothing and discovered that in 1918, the generally accepted rule was "pink is for the boy." Yes.

"Most of the confusion [in the early 20th century, on which color was feminine and which was masculine or whether they denoted gender at all] can be attributed to the arbitrary nature of the assigned symbolism, no matter how natural it might seem to modern consumers." Arbitrary. ARBITRARY! And it's become practically gospel in our culture today.

Also, the baby dress: "It's not unusual to hear modern people describe Victorian babies as being dressed like girls; this is an error. To its own parents and grandparents, a child wearing the traditional white dress looked like 'a baby.'" This is because a baby's sexual innocence was considered one of its greatest charms. Babies once wore dresses until age 3 or so, and even in the 1940s young babies of both sexes wore white dresses. Now, I even hear comments about boys wearing Christening gowns, the last remaining boy dress.

"One of the criticisms of second-wave feminism is that it framed equality more in terms of girls "being like a boy" than boys being more effeminate." True! "Equality" means women having what men have. When really, what women have is way better. I love being a SAHM!

The story of Baby X was very interesting. I pondered it over a day after reading it and I did figure out the baby's sex! I didn't see that coming.

These days, pink worn by men is usually seen as ironic or humorous. But colorful fashions for men are slowly emerging. The toddler age, after newborn clothes, is sadly lacking in neutral options. It's all PINK or BOY and it drives me crazy. Dalton asked me why he doesn't have any pretty clothes. Because he doesn't like any of the stuff that screams GIRL. Toddlers are a consumer now, and as they are learning to identify with their gender and learn it's permanence, they tend to go to the extreme, hence the girly-girls who wear nothing but pink tutus for months on end. "The more gender binary the children's clothing market becomes, the more it fits the worldview of the three- to five-year-old consumers looking for ways to express an unambigious gender identity." Parents worrying about gender and sexuality issues also often seek out once gender neutral items - a onesie, overalls - now embellished with gender-specific themes.

In addition to the clothing, I am really annoyed at people reinforcing what they believe to be natural attributes of boys and girls. Boys naturally like to wrestle and play with guns. Really? MY boy doesn't. Girls like dolls and dress-up. Really? MY girl doesn't. Now, I do believe that gender characteristics are innate and unique. "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Most women are more naturally nurturing. Men are generally stronger. I also think that we are limiting each other by the gender mold that has been created in our world today. Especially when we limit children in what they can play with, what they can wear, who they can emulate, and with whom they can play (kids must have learned "Boys Only" from somewhere). Like a baby in a dress in the early part of the 20th century just looks like "a baby", let our children just act like "a child."

With the advent of mid-pregnancy ultrasounds revealing sex, people began labeling their baby with a gender even before birth. Is it a he or a she? It's a baby. Does it MATTER?


© 1999-2023 Susanna Chadwick.