Buy Pink Legos. Please.

December 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

Part Six of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many in a series of posts inspired by “Miss Representation.”  If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, and you have 8 minutes, please watch it here now.  

Mention the phrase, “pink legos” and stand back.  (Did I mention you should have popcorn handy?)

I’ve already blogged about my defense of pink.  Readers (in the double digits!  Go, me!) have read about it.  It doesn’t seem to be taking hold across the nation, yet, though.

Girl On Saturday,(aka, “Penis Mom”) – my new hero, by the way – tweeted that she may have her angry feminist card revoked for buying pink legos for her girl.  Miss Representation’s twitter feed is has quite a few angry tweets about this (new?) campaign of marketing pink Legos to girls.  They have a hashtag devoted to calling out marketers and manufacturers who demean girls and women, called #NotBuyingIt.  As in, if they send sexist messages, you shouldn’t buy the product.  I’m right there with them.  Go Daddy can suck an egg.  But such anger towards pink?  Please allow me to offer an alternative.

Buy them.  Buy the pink legos.  But buy them for boys.

Hear me out.  Please, I am begging you…hear me out.

When I was in elementary school, my dad had a rehearsal with his students at our apartment over Christmas break.  The show was “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and these were high school kids.  He was telling me about how great these kids were, and how I was going to swoon and fall in love – IN ABSOLUTE LOVE – with the kid who played Pontius Pilate.  “I’m telling you, Aliza, you are going to want to MARRY this guy,” or something like that.

When he rang the doorbell, my dad let me answer the door.  When I did, I was not prepared for what I saw.  He was not a kid.  He was at least 8 feet tall (to me, anyway.)  He had a full moustache and beard (it was the 70s.)  And he was black.  Dark black.  Standing in front of me was the blackest black black blackity black man I’d ever seen in my short life.  Handsome, true…but that was not what I took away from that experience.

Intentional or not, my dad sent me the message that it was okay for white people to fall in love with black people.  Not just okay…it was fine.  Not just fine.  It was fine with HIM.  And while at that age, I wasn’t considering the complexity of race relations, it did make me wonder why I had assumed the kid would be white.  Mostly, I walked away from that shrugging, and thinking “Gee – I guess I can marry a black guy if I wanna – that’s kinda cool…”  The revelation was transformative, shaping my thinking and outlook to this day.

Wondering what this has to do with pink legos?

Consider the message would you be sending if you bought pink legos for boys.

  1. To the manufacturer, you’d be letting them know their marketing is off base and outdated.  That EVERYTHING can be manufactured in bold colors or pastels, and that either gender should be encouraged and shown to be buying whatever color appeals to them.
  2. To little boys, you’d be sending them the message that girls shouldn’t have the market cornered on pink.  It is simply a color in the spectrum, just like blue is.  (Boys don’t have the market cornered on blue, anymore, do they?)  It is not just okay for them to like and use pink – it is FINE.  Just like my dad sent my young brain the message that there is nothing (or should be nothing) out of the ordinary for whites to marry blacks.

Imagine the ripple effect of this over time.  Perhaps girls would be further empowered if we weakened the stranglehold pink has on both genders.  Maybe a boy who liked pink wouldn’t be afraid to wear it.  Maybe his friends would be less likely to make fun of him.  Maybe being accused of doing something “like a girl” would no longer be considered an insult.  Maybe pink and other pastels would regain their rightful places in the color spectrum.

So go ahead and buy the pink legos if your girl likes them.  Buy them for your boys if it has never occurred to them.  The younger the boy, the better.  You will be planting the seed early.  Pink does not equal girl.  Girl does not equal inferior.

I admit, though another motivation for pushing this trend.  I get the subversive psychic giggles at the thought of the photos being uploaded to the Lego website.  Photos of dads buying pink legos for their sons.  And pictures of the boys playing with them.  Do it.  It’ll drive the ad execs crazy.

I’ve Got the Pink Blues. (The Great Pink v. Blue Debate)

December 5, 2011 § 7 Comments

Part Five of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many in a series of posts inspired by “Miss Representation.”  If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, and you have 8 minutes, please watch it here now.  

I used to be afraid to have a boy.

Wait.  Allow me to re-phrase.

I used to be afraid to give birth to a male child.

That’s better.  Yes, the prospect of having a son scared me more than having a daughter.  No matter how many people told me boys were easier (they’re not, by the way…) I was still afraid.  I had this theory that it was tougher to raise a boy to buck gender stereotypes than to raise a girl to do the same thing.

Call it a sign of the times that I wasn’t afraid of raising a tough girl – the Feminist movement of the Sixties and Seventies, and of generations further back, had cleared the way for my girl to hear that she had options besides housewifery.  Expectations for girls had been so incredibly broadened regarding education, attitudes and careers.  I couldn’t say the same for the boys, though options for boys were wide to begin with.

Put more simply, it had become more acceptable in society for girls to do “boy” things than for boys to do “girl” things.  This bothered me for many years before I became a parent, so I guess it made sense that I’d approach the parenting years with this anxiety.

Fortunately, I took comfort in the notion that I was not solely responsible for my potential son’s upbringing and attitudes.  I realized that the guy I married would have something to do with it.  If the huz was any indication, any boys I birthed would have a great example to follow.  Their dad had mastered the art of being manly without the BS macho posturing that often goes along with it.  He had no need, patience, or use for it.  So I relaxed a little, and, it turns out, I was right to entrust any future male offspring to the guy I married.

Our eldest is a girl, and the other two are boys.  When she was a baby, I dressed her in blue and green, but not necessarily to make a statement.  She’s a redhead – those colors looked best on her, and pink washed her out.

When our first son came along two years later,  E’s first words to me were, “Mommy, put that baby back!”  But she grew to like N, and eventually was more than happy to share her stuff with him, including her nail polish.  He wore it.  When she outgrew her pink, satiny, Cinderella nightgown, she gave it to N.  He wore it.  When she outgrew her flower socks, she gave them to N.  He wore them.

The huz and I had no problem with any of this.  I did field quite a few comments from some other pre-school moms, along the lines of, “Oh, my god, my husband would FUH-REEEEEAK OUT if my son wore that!!!”  This was to be expected.  I mostly said things like,  “Why?” or “Oh, how sad for your son…” and moved on.

Quite a few years later, I was helping out at the elementary school’s Grandparents’ Breakfast.  It’s always on a Friday in November, and as we live in Baltimore, I wore a Ravens jersey.  A pink one.

One of the grandmothers passed through the line and expressed dismay, bordering on disgust, that I was wearing a pink Ravens jersey.  “Why does it have to be PINK???  Just because a GIRL is wearing it???”  She (I’m guessing) had come of age when the Feminist movement did, and I sensed her frustration stemmed from the “Pink = girl” and “Blue = boy” mentality.  I share this frustration, but from a different angle.

So, I said,  “I feel like rather than banning pink from a girl’s color spectrum, it would be more productive to ADD pink to a boy’s.”  Make it okay for boys to wear and like things that are – you know – PINK.

Not just during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Not just the professional linebackers.  Ray Lewis can wear pink and no one will mess with him, I assure you.

The little shy boy?  He should be allowed to wear pink if he likes.  The little athlete?  He should be allowed to wear pink if he likes.  The girl?  She should also be allowed to wear pink if she likes.

I had dinner with two great girlfriends of mine, and we had a spirited discussion about it.  One was dismayed by the concept of pink legos and pink toolbox toys marketed to little girls.  She couldn’t quite put her finger on why, but it troubled her to have things set up this way.  I agree with her.

The other defended the use of pink this way, positing that making the toys pink doesn’t make them less valuable – especially if it gets girls playing with “traditionally” boy things.  There is nothing wrong with a girl liking pink.  I agree with her, too.

Then there was the conversation I had with my adult niece and her girlfriend.  I relayed to them the story of this grandmother at the school breakfast.  My niece’s girlfriend said, from a purely practical point of view, “Well, I just think it’s stupid that any team jersey would be made in a color other than that team’s colors.”  We got to talking about it, and came to the conclusion that there is something demeaning about assuming that the only way a girl will like something is if it’s pink.

This is what (I am guessing) bothered that grandmother.  This is what (I’m guessing) bothered my friend at dinner.

For me, the problem is when pink is considered “less than.”  When girls are considered “less than.”  When boys (and girls, by the way) who like pink are considered “less than” because that means they’re acting like GIRLS.  Tomboys are fine, but boys who do and wear and like GIRL things?  That’s what draws scrutiny (and legally sanctioned discrimination) on all levels – social, educational, professional.  And that, above all, tells me that in this world, women are valued less than men.  THAT, to me, is the problem.

Epilogue:

About a month ago I was in the orthodontist’s office with N,  who is now 13.  He was there because he had eaten some forbidden food and broken off one of his brackets.  The orthodontist was an older gentleman who was gently chiding him for not following the rules.  He joked with N, saying, “It’s okay this one time, but if you break another bracket, I’m gonna make them all PINK.”

My son, not missing a beat, looked him straight in the eye, smiled, shrugged, and said, “I like pink.”

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for December, 2011 at The Worthington Post.

%d bloggers like this: