Sea Turtles = Humans!

March 19, 2012 § 8 Comments

Full disclosure – I did not take this picture, nor do I know who did.  I don’t know if it’s new, or if it’s been around for a while.  I don’t even know if this is an argument any actual thinking human being is attempting to make, or if this guy is being filmed as an extra on a movie set.  Either way, it’s going around fb as an anti-choice statement by people I DO know – AND LIKE – and I felt like responding.  😀

I considered a serious rebuttal to the implied nonsense in this guy’s sign.  Then, I decided to treat this mentality like the joke that it is.  I created a chart.  Charts are logical, right?  (Click on it to enlarge…)

I was soooooo tempted to go back and make a better chart – one that really disproved this flippant comparison.  You know, how protecting sea turtle eggs had no future consequences for the mothers who lay them; how laying the eggs and leaving to go on with their sea turtle lives could not with any intellectual honesty be compared to the medical and emotional issues that must be weighed when a human female gets pregnant; the financial implications of helping a sea turtle hatch as opposed to forcing a woman to go through a pregnancy, birth a child, give the child up for adoption OR keep the child and raise him or her through adulthood; how a sea turtle mommy is not at risk for the emotional trauma that a human mommy is no matter WHICH decision she makes regarding pregnancy, birth and parenthood – because in my zeal for intellectual honesty, I must NEVER minimize the heartbreak and guilt that goes along with the decision to TERMINATE a pregnancy.

I didn’t, though, because when I set out to write this, I vowed to treat this chart with the same level of complex thought as anyone who would seriously try to make the argument in the sign the guy in this picture is holding.

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An Open Letter to Pro-Lifers

March 1, 2012 § 27 Comments

I could tell you I was raped.  (I wasn’t.) I could tell you I am a victim of incest.  (I’m not.)  I could tell you my life would be in danger if I got pregnant.  (Partly true, but for this discussion, let’s say not.)  I could tell you I’m mentally challenged or ill.  (I don’t think so, but let’s please not open THAT up to debate…) These are some of the scenarios even the most ardent advocates in the Pro-Life movement might allow themselves and those they love flexibility where safe and legal abortion is concerned.  Might.

Let’s talk about a different scenario – one that is completely true.  I am a 42-year-old woman.  I have been married to my college sweetheart since I was 21 years old, and I have had sex with ONLY him for well over 21 years.  I use birth control.  We have three children: a 15-year-old daughter, a 13-year-old son, and an 8-year-old son.  They are (thank god and knock wood) magnificent, kind, intelligent, healthy kids.  I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom, comfortable financially, we have health insurance, many friends, a good support system, etc., etc., etc.

What if MY birth control fails?  I don’t have any of the extreme situations mentioned in the first paragraph.  By all accounts, a woman my age and with my resources should be able to manage just fine with a fourth child.  The child would likely be healthy, well-cared for, raised with boundless love, etc., etc., etc.

But what if I didn’t WANT to have another child?

I repeat, what if I did not WANT to?

Even though I could?  Even though the pregnancy occurred through an act of love between two married, consenting adults?  Even though chances are the child would be fine – we would ALL be fine?

What if I didn’t WANT to?  Should I be forbidden access to a safe and legal abortion?

Should the potential of the embryo inside me to grow into a human being and be born and bring light to the world and cure cancer and colonize the moon outweigh my wishes?

My wishes to cherish and spend as much time as possible with the three children I already have before I blink and they are out of the house with families of their own?

My wishes to keep the undefinable, debilitating exhaustion of new parenthood relegated to a distant memory?

My wishes to not have a car seat and stroller at this stage of my life?

My wishes to nourish myself, now that I finally have some time and something creative and productive to do with it?

My wishes to have two free hands and a clear mind as I prepare my daughter for college, my first son for high school and my youngest son for his first season of swim team?

My wishes that my days of volunteering in pre-school be over?

My wishes that one day soon I will be watching what I want on T.V.?

Can you look me in the eyes and tell me my wishes for all these things, and how hard I’ve worked for them, are less important than the potential clump of cells in my uterus?

I understand why you consider a growing blastula, embryo, fetus an absolute miracle, a cherished life form, something to be protected.  I feel the same way.  I understand your religious and moral reasons for feeling passionately about this life form, such as it is.  I respect your zeal, your advocacy, your feelings.

I simply feel that I should have the right to put myself, the life (and lives) I’ve already created for myself and my ALREADY ALIVE family ahead of the potential life of a non-viable fetus. I am entitled to be respected in my ability to weigh and decide matters of such an intense personal nature for myself and my own family, understanding that anything I choose will come with unintended, possibly devastating consequences.

I understand why you might see an abortion clinic and those who utilize it as tragic and unjust.  I know the image you have of women who get abortions range from sympathetic (sad and in need of help) to judgemental (irresponsible sluts who use it as a form of birth control.)

I would argue, though, that people who fall into the image in that last category are few and far between.  Furthermore, people who use abortion as a cheap and easy fix for their irresponsible behavior (if such people exist) are presenting symptoms of much deeper societal ills than the fact that safe and legal abortions are available to them.  Just like people who use guns in an irresponsible, devastating way are reflective of a much deeper ill than the fact that guns are legal.

Finally, I would ask you this.  Can YOU understand MY needs?  Can YOU respect MY wishes?  Can you honestly say you are in a better position than I am to determine what is best for me and my entire family and our futures?  Can you assert in good conscience that this most sacred and personal individual choice of mine (and YOURS) should be limited to the following options:

1.  having another baby,
2.  carrying the pregnancy to term and giving the baby up for adoption, or
3.  a back-alley abortion?

Can you understand why, upon hearing about proposed (thankfully defeated) bill for mandatory, unwanted transvaginal ultrasounds, upon hearing about Congress proposing to allow ANY employer to opt out of providing healthcare plans that include access to birth control and abortion, that so many women AND men are looking around us with wild, crazed eyes and asking, “WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS COUNTRY?”

Why am I not cheering?

February 3, 2012 § 6 Comments

In a stunning reversal on an equally stunning mistake, Susan G. Komen For the Cure has apologized and restored funding to Planned Parenthood for breast exams and screenings.  Why am I not thrilled?  Maybe because despite the evidence of the absolutely mind-boggling power of social media, this whole episode is symptomatic of a much larger societal ill.  And I have many questions, since I by no means think the matter is settled.  There is fall-out with which to contend.

1.  How will pro-lifers react?  According to the Nancy Brinker, donations to Komen in the last two days increased 100%.  It’s reasonable to assume the increase was, in large part, a result of pro-life people pleased with their decision to revoke PP funds.  What will happen to these donations, now?  Will the donors ask that their money be returned?  Will they have to suck it up and accept that a donation made SOLELY BECAUSE they wanted to send the message they opposed legal abortion was made in vain?  Will there be even more outrage now on the part of the pro-life movement?  And will it be taken out on Komen?  This can only hurt Komen and the work they do.

2.  How will pro-choice people react?  As written in this article in Salon, Planned Parenthood is clearly more adept and practiced at handling controversy and criticism than Komen.  Planned Parenthood and its supporters need to be wary, though, of declaring victory.  That this whole story even happened is cause for deep concern among those who support women’s health and reproductive choice.  According to Senator Barbara Boxer (speaking to Andrea Mitchell this afternoon,) on this very day members of Congress are virtually coming to blows on the issue of birth control.  Birth control, people.  Let’s not get smug.

3.  Can Komen recover?  General consensus is yes.  But Komen for the Cure has been politicized, as many charities have.  Before this, it was possible for people to support Komen whether or not they supported legalized abortion.  Everyone wants cancer eradicated.  Now, though, supporting Komen might be harder for pro-life AND pro-choice people.

4.  What is really going on here?  Truth be told, according to PP,  about 170,000 of the more than 4 million breast exams they’ve provided over the last five years were funded by Komen’s grant.  That’s around 4%.  Interestingly, abortion makes up only about 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides.  I am in NO WAY minimizing the importance of even one of those lives being saved through the breast exam, nor am I minimizing the heartbreak involved in even one abortion performed.  Yet, the nastiness of this controversy may have been avoided (though probably not…) had everyone paused, assessed, and been forthright.

For example, imagine if the powers that be at Komen came right out and said, “We are free to fund whomever we choose, and we choose not to fund organizations that perform legal abortions.”  Say what it is and who they are.  And let the chips fall where they may.  I might no longer donate to them, but I might because I appreciate straight talk and sincerity.  In researching, I might decide the position is too abhorrent to me, or I might decide that the good they do outweighs this issue given the relatively small amount of money in the grant.

Imagine if Planned Parenthood reacted by saying, “We are deeply saddened by this, but truthfully, Komen only funded 4% of the breast exams we performed anyway.  With your support, we can make up the difference and emerge stronger than ever.”  I’m sure the outpouring of support would have been significant.

5.  Is this about breast cancer or abortion?  If it is about breast cancer, Komen should never have pulled their funding.  If it is about abortion, Komen should not have restored the funding.  Here’s what I fear.  I fear this entire episode had less to do with breast cancer screening OR abortion.  I fear it is, more than anything, reflective of how anti-community we have become.

Here’s what I mean by that.  Years ago, I joined a gym.  When I joined, childcare was included in the membership.  Within a year, the gym changed its policy and began charging extra for childcare.  I protested, and was told, “People who didn’t use it complained they shouldn’t have to pay for it.  Not everyone uses the childcare, so it’s not fair to charge them for it.”  I countered by saying, “I don’t use the men’s bathrooms, or touch any free weight over 15 pounds, but I understand my dues fund parts of the club I don’t use, or even like.  I’m okay with that because it contributes to the upkeep of the place as a WHOLE.”

Superimpose that approach onto politics.  The mentality exists wherein people cannot abide even one penny of their money being used for something they oppose.  In the last few days, I read over and over people arguing that if they give to Komen, they want to be damn sure the money won’t be going to fund that horrible Planned Parenthood organization.  They slaughter babies, you know.  By the same token, I heard people swear they wouldn’t give a dime to Komen now that they’ve made this anti-choice decision.  I was one of them.  Of course everyone is entitled to their opinions and are free to donate their money however they want.  But how I wish we could step back and take a breath.

Take a breath and accept the fact that some of your money (taxes and donations) will be spent in ways you don’t like.  Ways you find abhorrent.  I understand why people don’t want their money helping to fund facilities that perform abortions.  I respect their feelings and convictions.  I hope that respect is reciprocated when I say I don’t want my money helping to fund the death penalty, or organizations that discriminate against homosexuals.  Regardless, in the emotional whiplash of the last week, I think we could all do with a larger dose of acceptance.  Of making peace with imperfection and moving on.

I won’t rule out donating to Komen in the future, and as I said before – I may have even if they hadn’t reversed this decision.  What I’d love to see (and doubt I ever will) is a pro-life person donating to Planned Parenthood.  You know – in support of the 97% of medical services they provide in underserved communities that AREN’T abortion-related.

(I know I may live in a dream world, but it’s nice here.)

Ya Got to Have Friends…

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Part Eight (and last for a while) 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.  

Remember Donkey in “Shrek?”  Now, I don’t often look for wisdom out of the mouths of donkeys (insert liberal Democrat joke here…) but when he’s singing a Bette Midler song, I tend to take notice.  There’s a theory that’s been bouncing around in my mind for the last year or so, and I can’t seem to separate it from the image of happy Donkey singing “Ya Got to Have Friends” to Shrek.  Animated references aside, it seems appropriate to give voice to this theory in the blog series inspired by “Miss Representation.”  Yet, it’s a tricky message because I imagine it will be easy to misinterpret – and here it is anyway.

Minorities need friends in the majority.  I believe this applies to many facets of life, but generally, I am referring to the advancement basic human rights.  Overthrowing tyranny and abuse.  Moving civilization forward.  You know – the little things.

I realize I’m painting with very broad strokes here, but consider  history.  It’s hard to find an instance where an oppressed minority group’s advancement towards equality was not helped along by someone (or many) in the majority.  Emancipation.  Desegregation.  Women’s Suffrage.  Establishment of Israel.  Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Were the minorities and/or oppressed in these cases irrelevant or powerless in bringing the advancements to fruition?  Of course not – of COURSE not.  Au contraire.  But neither were they alone or singular in their efforts.  Somehow – somewhere along the way, in each of the cases mentioned above – their arguments, stories, actions, found a receptive heart and sympathetic ear of people in the majority.  And those in the majority whose eyes had been opened worked on behalf of those who had been wronged.  Then there was progress.

It’s very natural, when you’re a member of a group that’s been wronged to surround yourself with others like you, and assert your strength and independence as a group.    Cathartic.  Therapeutic.  Necessary.  And soooo easy to cross over to the “Stick it to the Man” and “Rage against the Machine” mentality.  We emphasize the “us vs. them” dynamic.  We are able to turn any problem adversarial.  (The more twisted ones actually get off on doing that, and shame on them.)  I can’t think of a greater impediment to progress.

We may feel we can go it alone – we don’t need those bastards in the majority.  But we’d be wrong.  If we don’t need them now, we’ll need them down the line, and we’ll be happy to have a friend or two on the other side.  This is my argument against isolation, people.  For all the flaws in our government, the beauty of its infuriating design is that one side can hardly get anything done without the other.   For all the flaws in our society, the brilliance of its survival lies in our ability to see value in other points of view.

Forgive the inelegance of the argument (and my beating a dead horse,) but blacks needed whites to defeat Jim Crow.  Jews needed gentiles to establish Israel.  Gays and lesbians need straight people to be on their side and advance their cause.  The first female Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court was appointed by a man.  Everyone needs friends on the other side of the aisle, whether it’s the aisle of Congress or the aisle separating men and women in an orthodox synagogue.

I finally watched “Miss Representation” in its entirety.  I’m trying to get it screened in Maryland.  Baltimore’s mayor (Stephanie Rawlings-Blake) is female, the longest-serving female U.S. Senator (Barbara Mikulski) is from Maryland, yet our state hasn’t yet had a screening.  How great would it be to fill a theater with people to watch this film?  Yet, the first question on my mind is, “How many men can we get to see this?  How many boys?”  I desparately want women and girls to see this, too – to stoke the fires in their bellies and make them roar.  To impress upon them how dangerous complacency is and how fragile our hold on equality.  But I also want the men there.  Progress won’t happen without them.

Because believe me.  When a twenty-something-year-old waiter feels comfortable addressing my mother as “dear,” but my father as “sir,” it is more obvious than ever that we have a loooooong way to go and a LOT of work to do.

Pink Legos – Part II

January 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

Part Seven 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.  

Okay, okay, okay.  When I recommended buying Pink Legos, I was imagining the same sorts of construction sets found in primary colors, only in pastels.  Should have done a little more research.  No, these aren’t the same architechtural and vehicle structures as the ones being offered in primary colors – they’re simpler!  For girls!  Yay!  Whew – thank goodness I don’t have to worry my pretty little head about building hard stuff like the BOYS do!

Here’s what I did to examine the issue a little further.

I read this analysis of the new Lego LadyFigs.  Lotsa great points and spot-on exploration of troubling gender issues.

I watched this Spark Video Petition asking Lego to re-examine its marketing strategies.  I will sign it.  I really support this effort.

I watched this thoroughly offensive treatment of Star Jones on the Today Show.  Consequently, I was reminded why I hate the Today show and never watch it.

And this.  The Lego Friends commercial.  Barf.

HOWEVER – I hate almost EVERY commercial aimed at kids.  I hate the food commercials aimed at kids.  I hate the toy commercials aimed at kids – girls AND boys.  Make no mistake – the marketing to boys is every bit as shallow and stubbornly adherent to gender stereotypes as the marketing to girls.  I hate most magazines aimed at kids, and most TV shows aimed at kids.  They are, so many of them, filled with obnoxious behaviors, colors, sounds, images and insulting messages.  And, please don’t get me started on how adults are depicted on these shows.  There is a reason the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under the age of two years old not watch TV.

I get the huge disappointment loyal Lego customers feel – it has for so many decades been considered a brilliant gender-neutral toy, and this new line extremely condescending and misguided.  I can just feel parents deflate when they see these commercials.  It’s like having your your hero selling out.  (Imagine Keith Hernandez going from being a baseball great all fans can love to doing gross, sexist, and poorly-acted commercials for men’s hair dye.  Thank GOD he would never stoop to that level.  Oh.  Wait…)

Don’t get me wrong.  I can get whipped up into a righteous fury over mistreatment of girls and women as much as the next guy.  I can, and I do.  Yet, I can’t help what bothers me most in this whole scene being played out with Legos’ new line.  Go back to the Today Show clip.  Watch the end of the Lego segment.  Watch from 6:45 – 7:00.  Listen to what gets used as the hilarious segue into the next segment.  Nancy Snyderman, M.D., saying, “The BRAVE parents will buy this line for their BOYS!”   HAHAHAHAHA!!!!  Donny Deutsch saying, “No, they WON’T!”  Snort!  Matt Lauer saying, “THAT’s probably not going to happen.”  Chortle!

Truly, I began to conceive of  this post being willing to have my mind changed – to say “I WAS WRONG!!!  Don’t buy Pink Legos!!!  Don’t support the sexist and insulting messages that go along with the new pink Lego line!!!  Don’t do it!!!”   My stomach clenches at this blatant, insidiously insulting line of products, and I am intensely grateful to all who are fighting the sexism so powerfully.

But, you know what?  There’s also this.  The much publicized story of a big brother sticking up for his younger brother who wanted a purple game controller.  Standing up for him to their DAD.  That such things go on boggles my mind.  Add to it those toss-off remarks by people with such reach and influence as Snyderman, Deutsch, and Lauer?  Sorry, my post-modern feminist friends.  I find myself wanting to stick up more than ever for the little boys who want things that are traditionally though of as “girly.”

So, again, I ask you – in the name of these boys – if your son wants these, buy them for him.  Please.  Seems to me I made that very argument a couple of weeks before Nancy Snyderman tossed the notion off as a joke.

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.”

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