The ‘pinkification’ of books, clothes, and toys for children is out of control. It is, for so many consumers, a given and an unquestioned ‘way things are’.
And yet beyond their obvious intrinsic uses, it helps if we first ask what are books, clothes and toys for children? They are cues that children use to shape the world around them, find their place in that world, and understand how it works.
Books, for example, if you ask almost any parent, are about expanding understanding, opening or broadening horizons, feeding imagination and creativity. But how sad is it then that many books for children, as well as toys and clothes, do the opposite; they peddle stereotypes, often centuries out of touch and hopelessly out of date for today’s values, and they close minds to new experiences and offer very limited horizons (far more limited for girls than for boys).
Here we sit, in the latter half of the year 2014, when equality for women has gained ground in many countries, in many walks of life. And yet, girls are today still coerced into pink, salacious, or ‘domestic’ (read cooking and housekeeping) roles.
I notice amongst other parents I know a fairly even divide between those who recognise gendered marketing for what it is, and act against it as much as they can, and others who don’t even see it. But what responsible parent of a girl puts limits on her by aspiring NOT to be the hero of the story but to be a Princess that, somehow invalided by her sex, needs rescuing?
How tiring is it that girls are taught the virtue of pretty passivity when, in fact, the world is full of women heroes such as Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart, who they simply don’t get to learn about?
It’s in our everyday language; boys are lauded as strong and bold, while a girl is defined by her looks (pretty, beautiful etc) and, if showing leadership traits, is unfairly dismissed as bossy.
It’s in our choices of clothes, where certain colours say ‘boy’ and other colours say ‘girl’, without any understanding of the nature and personality of the child.
And it’s in our choice of books, where the adventurous child that leads others or acts intrepidly is a boy, while those who sit back and wait to be either rescued, or married, or both, are girls.
Thanks again to Upworthy.com for the video clip, this is an interesting look at what one woman, fed up with gendered marketing for children, did about it.