Pink is just a colour

14 Feb

in pink snowsuit

Every time I dress my baby girl in pink, I wonder if I am disappointing the Feminist Authority. Though it may seem like I am taking myself too seriously, I hang out in circles that spend a lot of time and energy deconstructing gender norms. Caitlyn and I socialize with the kind of people who asked us if we were even going to assign a gender to our baby at birth. Many of them use gender neutral or plural pronouns to describe themselves, or identify with a gender that their parents still don’t quite understand. We attended the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference for several years in a row and gushed over the amazing parents of gender independent children who give their kids the freedom to explore gender without boundaries or limitations. That being said, I am not so naive as to think that it’s possible to raise a child gender-free (Baby Storm notwithstanding). I also identify as a femme dyke — someone who willingly embraces femininity and “girl stuff,” even though my usual uniform of vintage dresses and red lipstick has been replaced with jeans and barf-absorbing hoodies as of late. So needless to say, I spent some time thinking about how we would dress our daughter.

The first issue at hand was how to deal with the mountains of hand-me-downs and gifts we received — 80 per cent of which involved some shade of the colour pink. As a thrifty mom and someone with an environmental conscience, it seemed foolhardy to reject free clothing. So I weeded out the stuff that made my stomach churn and mixed and matched the other stuff with primary colours and bold patterns. When I buy clothes for Daphne, I make an effort to select other colours than pink (green looks great on a redhead), but I am hardly dressing her in a gender-neutral manner. And I don’t think I should. Because as our dear friend (and brilliant writer ) Julia Serano points out, “girl stuff” is just as valid as masculinity or androgyny. Queer communities tend to default to masculinity as neutral territory. But this ends up erasing the identities of people who enjoy feminine gender expressions. Eliminating femininity does nothing to challenge the patriarchy — if anything, it renders many women (and feminine men) invisible. It reinforces the notion that you need to “man up” in order to be powerful and sends the subtle message that “girly girls” are somehow less strong or articulate.

And as much as I am loathe to admit it, we tend to dress our children in our own images until they develop a firm opinion about such matters. I have a dear friend who dresses her daughter in black hoodies and jaunty bandanas, just like she does. Another mama in my circle has already procured a mini Ramones onesie for her baby Milo. All of our kids may rebel by the age of two, insisting on tutus and/or trucks. At that point, there is really not much we can do about it.

So my kid is wearing pink today. It looks good on her. And I will try not to freak out when she turns 16 and chooses to shave off all of that beautiful red hair.

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2 Responses to “Pink is just a colour”

  1. sherylsmolkin2012 February 14, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    If the beautiful hair is still red by then…..:)

  2. morasmum February 14, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    “It reinforces the notion that you need to “man up” in order to be powerful and sends the subtle message that “girly girls” are somehow less strong or articulate.”

    I never saw it that way, Thank you

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