So here we are again – Boys Can Wear Pink: Season 4, hosted by the oh-so-fabulous Kelly from Handmade Boy.
To recap the last 3 seasons.
I often choose pink or rainbow fabrics for the boys. They love them and look fabulous. My last two pattern releases both featured promotional photos of the boys in pink (click on the photos for pattern details or go to the end for links and fabric info).
So, boys can wear pink. And of course, girls can wear blue. And every colour in between; but you already know that. You probably have a fabulous, multi-coloured, scandi-inspired, gender neutral wardrobe for your offspring. I do. (I also have a wardrobe for myself consisting of 72 different shades of bluish grey, but let’s not go there.) You, like me, probably dress your children in whatever looks good, or even better, let them choose their clothing themselves and this has no doubt led to some awesome outfit choices. (Anyone else taken a dragon to church or Willy Wonka to the shops?!)
However, chances are that you, like me, are still sexist. Or to be more accurate, gender biassed against women.
‘Say What???!!!’ I hear ringing out across the blog-o-sphere.
The feminist in me was just as shocked, but the latest research would point to it being true. It’s real research, not just anecdotal musings or Facebook fake news. It’s coming from little schools like Yale.
You can read a more in-depth summary of the findings here, but basically the majority of us, and by us I mean men and women, are unconsciously biased against women and it all happens in the pre-historic lizard part of our brains. Let me explain a little. As we’re growing and developing, we learn that hot things hurt. We learn this by things people say, by observing the actions of others and by experience. We soon learn not to stick a hand in the fireplace. We don’t necessarily make conscious decisions about it, we don’t say to ourselves ‘oh look, there’s an open fire, boy that would hurt if I stuck my pinky finger in it’, we just avoid it.
In the same way, our world is disproportionately filled with men in positions of power and authority. Our lizard brain thinks ‘man = powerful, woman = weak’. Our conversations are full of language that treats boys and girls in different ways. “Don’t be a princess”, “man up”, “throw like a girl”. Our lizard brains think ‘boy = tough’ and ‘girl = not tough’. Bringing it back to the world of fashion, this can process can be seen when you look at the difference between commercially available ‘boy’ clothing and ‘girl’ clothing. Last year GAP found themselves in the advertising doghouse after a campaign described girls as ‘social butterflies’ but boys as ‘little scholars’. So from the youngest age we are telling their lizard brains ‘boy = must be clever’ but ‘girl = must be popular’. Around the same time Morrisons (a huge UK supermarket chain) was selling t-shirts for boys saying ‘big ideas’ while the corresponding girl tee said ‘big smiles’. Again. Boys must be clever. Girls must be pretty. You get the idea?
I visited many clothing shops and strolled through their children’s sections while preparing this blog. In the girl sections I was surrounded by pink, sparkles, frills, lols and emojis. In the boy sections it was all blue and diggers and monsters and tough. We can dress our boys in all the cool pink outfits we like, and our girls in blue, but if society surrounds them with images of pink being delicate and feminine, and more importantly tells them that this is in some way inferior, then the lizard part of their brains will take up that assumption, and it’s not their fault.
So if this is an unconscious problem, perpetrated by the whole of society then we’re doomed right?
Well no, as with many things, the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Be aware of your choices, your language, and the roll models you put before your children. Tell your daughter she is thoughtful, inventive, creative, just as often as you tell her she’s beautiful. Tell your son he is kind, compassionate, gentle, just as often as you tell him he’s tough. If your daughter loves Cinderella then great, it’s a beautiful fairytale. But when you’ve finished reading about a downtrodden girl being swept away by her Prince Charming maybe choose to read the wonderfully independent Princess Smartypants next. Let your boy choose blue if he wants, but make sure you offered him the full box of crayons.
Boys and girls are not the same. But they are equal, and we’re not quite getting it right for either yet.
I’m going to leave you with this rather fabulous video. I apologise in advance for some of the language, but she gets the point across far better me.
Post Script: Links Links Links
The two patterns featured above are the Free Range Fun Over-Trousers and Over It Alls. If you are in the EU you will get re-directed to etsy.
The bright geo raincoat fabric is from Mibs. The rainbow jersey is my own design but is unfortunately out of stock. There are many other bright MBJM prints available here.
The BCWP blog tour is hosted by Handmade Boy.