lifestyle

Fighting the pink tide: It doesn't matter what damn colour the toys are.

Matilda’s preschool ‘graduation’ – possibly the only time she hasn’t worn pink in the last 12 months.

So, a Barbie doll beat me down.

As surely as if my daughter had grabbed Babs by her spindly little legs and whacked me over the head – I am beaten.

Today, I desperately want to stand with Greens Senator Larissa Waters, as she is roundly ridiculed in the tabloid press for daring to suggest that we stopped choosing our kids’ toys based purely on their gender

I would love to go along to one of her and Play Unlimited’s ‘No Gender December’ playdates, where my kids can play with fair-trade toys that are neither pink nor blue.

But I would be a traitor. I would be a fraud.

Because my little girl loves pink, and tutus and princesses. And my little boy loves dinosaurs and trains.

And that, my friends, is the cold hard truth.

It wasn’t meant to be this way.

I didn’t find out the sexes of either of my children before they were born, in part because I didn’t want to start gender stereotyping them before they even really existed. You know, “Is he kicking? Oh, you’ve got a little soccer player in there….” and so on.

There were no pink and blue baby clothes, only shelves filled with tiny piles of bright reds and greens and earthy neutrals.

My kids, with their princesses and dinosaurs. Clearly, no gender-stereotyping here. 

For years, I pretty much resisted buying anything pink and fluffy for my first child, a girl. She loved wearing shorts, and she loved her little boy mates, and she was physical and feisty and outspoken.

But then The Pink Creep began. My home was swallowed by a gradual rising tide of tulle and plastic in every shade from peach to fuschia. You see, parents are not the only ones who buy things for their kids. In fact, your first child receives so many gifts, you don’t make even half of the decisions about what they wear and what they play with.

But there is a grace period when you get to make the decisions (and hide the stuff you hate), until that dreaded day when your child wakes up and has An Opinion.

And my daughter’s Opinions go like this: I Like Pink Things. I want a baby doll. I want a pink fluffy pram. I want jewellery. I want to wear your lipstick. And I want a Barbie.

A Barbie, FFS.

Maybe I can live with astronaut Barbie?

Meanwhile, my son’s Opinion is this: Roooooooar! I am a dinosaur. And Where’s Thomas?

Like Senator Waters, I find it kind of infuriating. I am deeply irritated that the toy shop is divided into pink and blue aisles. It really annoys me that when I buy a book for a child and ask for it to be gift-wrapped at the counter, they ask me “boy or girl?”, as if the two genders cannot even share wrapping paper.

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And I have a sneaking suspicion, as older people do, that it wasn’t like this when I was young. Yes, there were boys’ toys and girls’ toys, everything wasn’t quite to segmented, so strictly policed along gender lines.

This iconic 1981 Lego ad seems almost radical today. 

Is it possible that as the women’s movement has changed almost everything about our lives, the choices for our children when it comes to their interests and pleasures. are more strictly prescribed than ever? Yes, yes it is.

Lego is now strictly for ‘boys’ or ‘girls’. Guess which kind this is (Post continues after gallery):

But unlike Senator Waters, I do not believe that my daughter’s penchant for pink princesses, and my sons’ for trains, is going to contribute to to her chances of earning less as she grows up, or of either of them becoming a victim of, or a perpetrator of, domestic violence.

Today on Mamamia, Senator Waters wrote:

Even though it’s 2014 and many women drive trucks while many men push prams, a lot of toy companies don’t seem to have caught up.

Old-fashioned stereotypes about girls and boys and men and women, perpetuate gender inequality, which feeds into very serious problems such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap.

Please, Senator. No. I can only worry about so many things at once. I can do all kinds of things to fight for a better world for my daughter, but fighting against her being naturally drawn to the girls’ shelves at Toys R Us surely can’t be the deciding factor.

Barbie may have beaten me but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up.

Because whether my daughter’s sprinkling fairy dust or fixing a toy car, I am always going to teach her that she is worth as much as any man, and that she has the absolute right to be treated with respect and dignity, and to always treat others the same way.

I am always going to teach my son the same. The exact same.

I can try to fight the pink and blue tide. I can rail against Thomas, and Dora and those God-forsaken Disney princesses, but really, my job is to sweat the big stuff.

Like making sure my kids – both my boy and my girl – know that whatever phase they’re in, whatever they’re interested and obsessed with at any given moment – Dad and I might roll our eyes, but we smile and nod and feign interest.

And while we worry about the day to day, we keep supporting them and reinforcing the big lessons, the ones that matter way more than toy colour.

Be kind. Be just. Be curious. Be bold. Be happy.

And whatever aisle you find your happiness in, whatever colour it is, that’s just fine with us.

Where do you stand on the Pink or Blue debate?

Come and Like Holly on Facebook and offer some advice on how to deal with The Pink Tide.

Okay, so we’re mellowing out a bit, but some toys are just terrifying. Here are a few:

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