Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I've been complaining a lot lately about dressing my daughter in pink. I've been arguing that it's limiting, it's narrow, it's only one way of being a girl. The more I think about it, the more I see it's about more than just performing femininity. It's about how women and men still do not have equal access to opportunity in this country.

It's not as if my daughter has any obvious disadvantages. She's rich - by world standards - fed, loved, clothed. She has two parents, seven grandparents and doting aunts and uncles. She's healthy, breastfed, no allergies (yet). She's living in one of the world's most developed and prosperous nations. No war, no famine, no violence, no sickness. Just wealth, comfort and security.

It's not enough. It only seems like enough when you compare it to what so many girls in the world don't have. But does the fact that so many girls are suffering make it okay that my daughter will grow up in an Australia in which inequalities still exist? Yes, it's better than many places. Yes, it's better than it was. But does that mean it's good enough?

This report shows that women in Australia still earn less than men, and the gap is widening, not getting smaller. More than a third of women in this report said that they had experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner. Less money, less power, less freedom, fewer opportunities and more chances of being a victim. This is not what my mother wanted for me and this is not what I want for my daughter.

Little girls get dressed (and choose to dress) in pink to mark out their difference from little boys. But if that difference means my little girl is going to grow up in a world where her genetics are a handicap, forget it. She's a person first, with all the rights every person in the world should have, and that's what I want to remind people when they see her. That it's just not enough to give us pink tutus. Girls and women everywhere deserve much, much more.


jam said...

Katie tried to explain to her mum the other day that if there are boys' colours and girls' colours then we worry that that can quickly lead to the thought that there are boys' jobs and girls' jobs. We have, happily,been given so many clothes for our impending boy. The few pink ones are sweet treasures in a sea of blue. It does indeed shit me that we need to differentiate our genders at all, let alone when one is a tiny, scwalling baby.

JA said...

We are dressing our little man a lot in beige and green but he still has a lot of blue as this stuff is what we get as presents. But the more important task is to provide the kind of education that makes your statements clear to him (or her) and rise her (or him) in this spirit. Go for it!

Kate said...

I'll be interested to see how it pans out when Lotte is older. I felt very strongly about all these little girls dressed head to toe in pink and as a baby I never dressed Ivy in pink vowing she would wear all sorts of colours.

Unfortunately she had other ideas. At the age of 2 and a bit she got the worst attack of pink-itis I have ever witnessed. Entire drawers of clothes went unworn as I endured monster tantrums if I even dared to suggest she wear something that wasn't pink. The rotten thing was she only had about 3 pink garments which she insisted on wearing again and again til they were falling apart.

She then refused to eat off her blue or cream coloured plates and found one that had some pink on it and it was the only thing she would allow her food to go on. At other peoples houses she would become hysterical if she couldn't have total ownership of all the pink toys, plates, cups whatever was up for grabs in the house - very embarassing.

Then it was a total rejection of anything like trousers or jeans. It's skirts and dresses only - no matter what the weather is like! At 3 and a bit she is only now starting to consider wearing other colours but generally it's still pink, a bit of purple and a bit of black and red. I've learned not to waste my money on anything else as it will not get worn.

How did this happen? I gave her plenty of choices in terms of colours and gender and the like and I have to say I'm not particularly girly (she actually begs me to wear dresses which I almost never do). Yet she is the girliest girl I have ever seen. I don't know the answer but I do know that your kids have very strong opinions of their own from an amazingly young age - beware! : )