The Color Wheel of Assumptions

March 30, 2009

When I was pregnant, my husband and I decided not to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl.  Mostly because finding out when the baby comes out is so much more fun!  My husband got to go out to the waiting room and say, “It’s a boy!”  And, really, how cool is that? But also because I have really strong feelings about all of the gendered crap that comes with having a baby.  I like that my son is drawn to watching how bigger boys play, but also happily crawls around with my purse in his hand or over his shoulder for much of the day.

So you can imagine how I felt last week when I overheard this conversation at the Building Museum’s play area called the Building Zone:

Woman 1: She is so cute! [about newborn baby who was not present]

Woman 2: Actually, it’s a boy.

Woman 1: That can’t be! He was wearing yellow!

I almost leapt across the towers of cushioned building blocks and throttled her.

It makes me crazy that in the midst of our generation picking up the feminist struggle to bring an end to gender inequalities that are so pervasive, we continue to be stuck on the idea that little boys and little girls should be dressed in certain ways and should play with specific toys.  If anything is going to implant gender roles early it is those messages that we send.

If we really want to make things better for our daughters (and sons!), let’s make sure that we fight those rules.  I think we start a campaign of a baby doll for every boy and a truck for every girl!


2 Responses to “The Color Wheel of Assumptions”

  1. ubuntucat Says:

    The sad thing is that this continues on into adulthood as well. If you are a straight male who isn’t decidedly a cross-dresser, you will be made fun of (either lightly or heavily) for wearing anything pink or frilly.

  2. Madeleine's Mama Says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked “How old is he?” if Madeleine is wearing anything other than all/mostly pink. I buy the cute, non-ratty used clothes that are her size, period. I am as vigilant as I can be about the more subtle ways I communicate gender expectations to my child. But the superficiality of clothing as a way to infer not only sex but gender really galls me.

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