Friday, 2 May 2008

Thinking Pink

Found another pile of Guardian articles yesterday, including this by Eleanor Bailey: The Tyranny of Pink.

Bailey discusses the increasing gender-segregation in toy shops, the predominance of pink clothes and girlie accessories for girls and the dangers for a future generation of women restricted to limited choices. Lyn Mikel Brown explains that these dangers include "depression, eating disorders and self-esteem issues."

Bailey suggests that, if pink is here to stay, perhaps we can "use it as a force for good," referring to the positive effects on mood and emotions associated with the colour pink.

Rosalyn Ball echoes such concerns with the stereotyping of toys. In her article, Dreaming of a Pink Christmas, Ball considers how toys are "still unbelievably segregated along strict gender lines" to the extent that 'femaleness' is seen as "humiliating for boys."

Such concerns are also echoed by a frustrated father in his consideration of gender stereotyping and toys: I’m tired of seeing pink. I’m tired of seeing blue. And I’m both pissed off and saddened deeply that at age three, my daughter and her friends, both girls and boys, have already learned to see those colors, and what they are supposed to mean, so well. And I know that this isn’t the last time I’m going to start a sentence with, "No, baby, both boys and girls can….?"

Another father, who often writes thoughtful considerations of gender and parenting, is (un)relaxeddad. In his post entitled 'Gendering' he makes some very interesting points about pink and pretty with reference to boys and girls, refers to Judith Butler and the ideas in her Gender Trouble, and finishes with a thought-provoking question: "How do we bring someone up to be comfortable with her own idea of what it means to be a 'she' without bricking her into a limiting corner of 'she-ness' designed by men for the benefit of men?"

In defence of poor maligned and feared pink, I spent ages trying to track down a reference to 'thinking pink' as a common concept in rock-climbing. I'm sure I read somehere that to 'think pink' is to remain 'in the zone' or incredibly focussed. But I couldn't find anything. Does anyone else know anything about it?

What I did find, was a piece about pink as the colour of love, joy and concentration.

I also found things about thinking pink in marketing:

At Acton Marketing, advice to "think twice before you think pink," because not only does pink tend to alienate men, it often makes women suspicious. There is also a quote from Don't Think Pink by Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned: "As you can imagine, pink campaigns feel like a patronizing pat on the head for many women."

Andrea Learned has written a post on her blog, When Everyone's to Blame for Gender Stereotyping, arguing that regardless of our upbringing, as adults we choose our own perspectives on gender: "More men and women are realizing they've got their own work to do - whether that be to stop stereotyping the opposite sex or to stop perpetuating the stereotypes of their own sex."

I love pink! I think it's a feelgood colour. Like purple. And turquoise. And orange. When on earth did a single colour (or rather a combination of red and white) define an entire gender? When did pink become the colour that should be avoided by boys, and the colour that girls should (or shouldn't) wear?

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