The case of the pink pants

So I bought O a new pair of pants yesterday. They are striped, and some of the stripes are pink. Some of the stripes are also blue and yellow and red. I did get them in the girls’ section. The first thing J said when he saw them was “There is pink in those pants”. I really like these pants – they’re cute. Of course, O could care less. He would prefer to wear no pants at all.

I realized a little while ago that I am falling into something I said I wouldn’t do. O is surrounded in ‘boy’ things. Maybe it’s all the clothes and toys he got for Christmas, but it’s bugging me. I want him to be exposed to a whole range of things to wear and play with and do and be. I know little boys are different from little girls, and they often gravitate to the ‘boy’ things on their own, but I wonder how much of that is influenced by their environment, and how much of it is innate.

Hence – the pants. I want to raise a feminist. I know pink pants aren’t going to do it, but it’s a start. I don’t really mind if I get a few “oh – what a cute little girl” comments, or if people think it’s a bit weird. It might get them thinking about gender stereotypes, and that’s always a good thing.  We’ll see how I feel when he wants to wear a tutu to kindergarten*.

Any advice on how to raise a feminist boy? What are you doing with your own kids to try to counteract all the stereotypical crap that is bombarding them all the time?

*for the record – I’d let him, but then I would have to work on my own preconceptions and worrying about what others might think.

9 Comments

Filed under Feminist Mothering, O

9 responses to “The case of the pink pants

  1. Gina

    Good thing you didn’t get the REALLY pink pants.

    I don’t have a boy so with that in mind. I would say don’t sweat it. He’ll form his early beliefs based on what he learns at home anyway. I’m sure you won’t raise a chauvinist.

    I think we need to be relaxed about these things. Just because Petra may love Barbies or want to watch the Little Mermaid over and over and over and over again, it doesn’t mean she’ll have poor self-esteem. If you try keep it out of the home, it’ll get into their lives anyway. My only rule is NO TOY GUNS.

    I plan to teach her to be a rational, critical thinker and hopefully we’ll survive the tweens and teens.

  2. April Hardwick

    Jack isn’t waiting until kindergarten – he already wants pigtails and pretty dresses LOL. I think it’s the older sister thing ;o)
    They play pretty equally here with each other’s toys. One thing that really interested me, was when Jack was first starting to “pretend play”. My husband really isn’t into cars at all. Nobody here really played with them and we didn’t have any. Yet his first imaginings included him zooming things around and making car noises! I have no idea where this came from. He still loves cars. Weird. Star Wars or sports, I’d blame daddy LOL.

    I have a hard enough time letting my girls wear their tutus out in public (I don’t actually, I just can’t bring myself to do it, I let them chose to an extent :o) )

  3. Carol

    Benjamin became obsessed with wheels at about 5 or 6 months old. He wanted to touch them, turn them, push and pull them. Big or small, he just seemed to love wheels. This did graduate to cars and other wheeled vehicles. One time at Sherway, we were standing in line next to a woman in a wheelchair. Benjamin, from his stroller, reached out and tried to move one of her wheels! lol
    I look forward to seeing what Abi will become obsessed with. I’m not one for dolls or even stuffed animals, but it is incredible how many we have accumulated due to gifts! Hopefully she will get the benefit of “boy” things and naturally find her own “thing” – whatever that may be.
    I agree with Gina – this crap eventually will get into their lives. So, it will be the values that we instill in them that will be important. O will learn from what he sees… I often forget with Benjamin and he surprises me all the time.

  4. Beth

    I find it a tiresome struggle. I plan on reading a few good books on the issue soon to give me some guidance. So far, I find the most natural thing to do is let them be emotional. Let them feel hurt, sad, etc. I think our society tends to force boys to ‘be tough’ and ‘suck it up’ which cannot be healthy regardless of the gendered stereotype implications. Thomas is a very sensitive little guy and D will often get angry and tell him to stop crying. I agree that he needs help dealing with his emotions, but I think girls are allowed so much more lee-way (sp?) when it comes to expressing emotions. Oh, and being affectionate is good, too. At least it helps me feel like my boys love me when they slobber on endless kisses :) I also got a feminist pin and Thomas wore it on his backpack for a couple of years. It didn’t make him an automatic feminist, but it made me feel good, lol.

  5. kickypants

    I agree – I’m reading ‘Real Boys’ right now and it says the same kinds of things. Let me know what you’re reading on the topic. Luckily Jeff is very understanding and receptive of all of this. He’s going to even read the book himself!

  6. kickypants

    My brother was obsessed with wheels and cars and stuff too. And he had three older sister who only played with dolls and two parents who were lazy by the time they had him and wouldn’t have bought him much of anything unless he’d pestered them for it!

  7. X wears a pair of girls pants with the butterflies hemmed off the end. Jen couldn’t tell, I could immediately. It was one of those things I had to acknowledge and move past.

    As for the wheel/truck thing — geesh! Same, he loved trucks — out on walks he’s point and shout for all the trucks he saw. I’m anti-vehicles of most types so I don’t know where it came from. Now it’s moved on to trains /shrug.

    A woman at the pool the other week said give a boy a train, and a girl a toy kitchen and you’re all set. Me and another dad looked at each other and thought wow, people still think like that?

  8. if i’d had a boy, i’d have bought those pants!

  9. kickypants

    Cool – I’ll try to post a picture of O in the amazing pink pants. I also have a picture of him in a tutu that I plan to use for maximum embarassment at some point when he’s in high school ;)

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