November 29, 2006

Pink: We Fought The Hegemony, And The Hegemony Won

pottery barn pink nightmare

The answer: far less than 2.5 years.

The question: how long before your soul is crushed and your kid's soul is stolen by the whole pink-blue steamroller?

Don't get me wrong, I still think it's worth resisting, and truth be told, we decided to let some pink into the kid's life early on, rather than burn 75% of the gifts she receives. It's a losing battle, but it's not like you can just stop fighting and turn your kid over to the Disney Princess-o-lizer.

The source of the frilly pink-for-girls hegemony in our culture is still a mystery, and frankly, the first couple of waves of feminism haven't really helped clear things up--or stem the tide, for that matter. My money's on, well, money. Somewhere behind and under and at the root of it all is gender-coded capitalism, with products and marketing and design that are designed to reinforce gender-specific roles, but only/really as a means to a sale-making end.

pink_think.JPGOr turned around, if people didn't buy more pink Pottery Barn kitchen toys, Pottery Barn wouldn't be making and flogging it. If Toys for Boys and Toys for Girls weren't a more profitable segmentation strategy, someone in the increasingly desperate toy industry would surely figure out a better way to separate you from your money.

And yet, it's not corporate consumer capitalism that taught my daughter her favorite color is purple [in your face, Pink!] or that brainwashed her into dressing herself like a tub of rainbow sherbet yesterday. So I'm stumped.

At one point, I would have looked to an eye-popping, historical analysis-cum-advertising scrapbook like Pink Think; Becoming A Woman In Many Uneasy Lessons for an answer, if not a solution, a way to save my perfect daughter from a future of Barbie-tinted, gender-coded obstacles. But now, after just two years of trying to get my kid to embrace black, blue, anything but, I just shrug it off. Still, the book sounds hella entertaining, that's for sure.

Buy Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons [amazon via designobserver]
Previously: Pottery Barn Kids Girls & Boys


The (slightly) good news is that, since your original PBK story, they've added a "Pro Chef" kitchen line, designed to look like it is stainless steel.

My daughter loved playing with these at the PBK store in the mall. She doesn't care what color.

Then again, she loves playing with the basket of cheap, plastic veggies we got her from the dollar bin at Target.

“Yes, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression and pink; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will...” - Yoda (mostly)

[I'll be back to complete my training. I promise. -ed.]

Even better news is that target has a knockoff version of the pottery barn pro-chef kitchen. Just in case you don't feel like spending the amount of money that you would spend on an actual kitchen on toys:

(and it comes with accessories!)

We're also going with the non-pink (and cheaper) Target kitchen for Xmas this year. Noisette's favorite color is blue at the moment...wacky girl!

just wait until she's old enough for victoria's secret.

Kaz- they call it the "Pro Chef" line because it's more expensive than going to a restaurant supply store and buying a real commercial kitchen to play with. We're going with the Target one, but I think I'm going to try to wrap it in that fake stainless adhesive film.

My 2.2-year-old is definitely in that phase - the pinker, the glitterier, the fluffier it is, the more he wants it. He's a pretty butch little dude other than his desperate quest to dress like a Gabor sister.

I blogged about this a few weeks ago and got several comments and many more emails about other people's princessy toddler boys who grew out of it in a year or two - I almost think it's an age thing, maybe something like the red-and-black infant theory, that is mostly encouraged in girls and strongly discouraged in boys.

But don't get me started making up science and statistics out of whole cloth - I could do that all day.

Well, duh, it's money. If Americans have 2.5 children, and you have a roughly 50% chance of having one of each. Then by making sure every little thing is gender color coded, they can ensure that you buy one of everything for your baby twice. It's color coded planned obsolescence.
This is why modern stuff with gender neutral colors is twice as expensive. They have to make up for the fact you won't be buying two.

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