Gender bias in children’s items such as toys and clothes is being addressed by many, and for good reason. Gender bias can close doors for our children. It is important that toys are toys and colors are colors, and both are for everyone. I do have a small concern in this issue however; gender bias is ridiculously old-fashioned and has to go, but please do not put down pink in the process of ending gender bias.
I have three amazing littles of my own. My oldest is an amazing five-year-old girl. She is spunky and strong, but she is also very sweet and sensitive. She is both intelligent and beautiful, and I tell her that she is both every day. I do not worry about her one bit. She likes pink and blue, and everything in between. She plays with Barbie’s and Wolverine simultaneously. She digs in the dirt, and decorates her mud pancakes with dainty flowers. She does exactly what she wants to do, and it would not bother her in the least to hear she should not do something because it was a “boy thing” or a “girl thing.” She just loves to do what makes her happy. In the era of the end of gender bias, she will be just fine.
My son, who is three, will definitely thrive in a world where gender bias is being questioned. He adores superheroes; he is constantly in some type of superhero costume. He also loves being a big brother, and has a caring heart. I feel a tug at my heartstrings when I see him playing with baby dolls, gently placing them in strollers and pushing them through the house. I know he is practicing for the day when he is a dad, and just like his own father, I know that he will be a great dad. I dread the day when he is told that “boys don’t play with babies” because I know that playing with babies can help boys to figure out the importance of taking care of others.
My third child is a darling almost two-year-old little girl, she is the one I worry about. I know she is young, she will be two in a few days, and that her tastes will change, but right now she is fully immersed in a world of pink, princesses, and sparkles. She refuses to wear anything that is not either a dress or pink, and will scream at me “no, princess” if I try to get her to wear something else. She is already smart, and very sensitive. I worry that as so many people express the need for gender neutrality, those girls who want to play with princesses will get left behind. They will feel that they are somehow beneath the other girls who want to go dig in the dirt and build things. I fear that in the struggle to get rid of gender bias, pink gets put down.
Putting down pink is not ending gender bias. Putting down pink is reverse gender bias. Toys are toys, and they are for everyone. Boys can play with babies and girls can play with trucks. Boys can like pink, and girls can like blue. Let’s not forget that girls can still play with princesses and like pink. There is nothing wrong with, or lacking in, a girl who likes pink.
I know that ending gender bias is important. Gender bias can limit the potential of our children. Ending gender bias opens up a world of opportunities for our amazing littles. It is certain, gender bias has to go, but in our exuberance to get rid of it, please let us all remember to not put down pink. Those girls who love pink need to know that it is okay, that they are not less for liking princesses, just as girls who like dinosaurs and mud are encouraged and empowered to like what they want to like.
Editorial by Ashley Campbell