One Gender Stereotype We All Use

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I’ve always been into music, but then again who hasn’t? No one has a better music taste than you. If you are going to listen to music though, you will need some kind of device that will allow you to play the music. When I was growing up there wasn’t a small device that would fit in your pocket so I had to resort to buying the best stereo my parents would get me I could afford. The type of stereo mattered immensely, I wanted subwoofers, cool equaliser lights and striking colours, There were a few stereo types that fit the bill. You could go for the LG CM4360 230W, the Panasonic SC-AKX400E or even the Philips FX10. What you couldn’t go for though, especially if you were a man is the Pioneer X-CM56D, because it was pink.

The other stereo types I mentioned also had colours but thankfully they were masculine colours like red, blue and black. That made them socially acceptable for boys to use. And it is a great system;* whereby we tell children what colours they should be associating with and then stigmatise them if they don’t follow these arbitrary social rules. That is because, as we know, the world will end if different sexes associate with the ‘wrong’ colour.

It has always been that way though, colours have been stuck to people since they were born and throughout human history, it has always been blue for boys and pink for girls. Apart from the time when it wasn’t – obviously. If you go back as far as 1918, almost 100 years exactly, the ‘Earnshaws’ Infants Department wrote:

The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

We shall glaze over the preconceived gender roles in the quote and just focus on the points which will validate my point – colours can be attached to any gender we like. Or to put it a better way; why don’t we just all let people wear whatever colour they want?

If you have read this far you won’t be surprised to hear that I like pink. I like it a lot, in fact, I would go so far as to say it is my favourite ray that reflects off things. I don’t wear it a lot nor do I have a lot of things that are pink though and that is largely due to the murmuring stigma that is associated with a man wanting pink things.

This is starting to sound like I want everything to be pink and I want to live in a pink world – that isn’t entirely true. But I did want some pink trainers/sneakers/tackies/runners this weekend and that desire was met with shock by the people around me. ‘It looks like you’ve stolen your girlfriends’ shoes’ and ‘thank god they don’t have your size’. The disdain filled the air and needless to say I didn’t get any pink trainers, although that was only because they didn’t have my size.

These colours though are so ingrained from a young age for absolutely no reason at all that it made me feel slightly bad for wanting pink trainers, and that is the worst thing of all. I understand people are persecuted around the world for expressing their sexuality or stepping outside of imposed gender norms but I shouldn’t feel bad for wanting pink trainers.

When rich countries in the west don’t want to spend money in poor countries they say people in those countries need to educate themselves. And whilst education is key, the idea that people can self-educate themselves out of a situation while worrying about rape, starvation, war, religious oppression and many other things, is at best, naive.

It is also a bit rich* because we rarely educate ourselves on emerging issues. Who actively educates themselves on the issues of gender and sex? Most people in the western world won’t even know the difference between the terms gender and sex. Sex being, largely determined by your hormones, genitalia and genes. Gender being societal norms attributed to you because of your genitals. It still isn’t that simple though, especially as out of 1 in every 1,500 births the sex of a child cannot be determined.  An intersex child is born with a mix of both genitalia and the sex, therefore, has to be chosen by the parent(s). Not so binary after all. Then you have the chromosome problem, whereby some men are born with 2 or even 3 X chromosomes and some women have the Y chromosome. In fact most people will go through their live and never know which chromosomes they have exactly.

Don’t get me started on the psychological impact of imposing gender roles from a young age. Just take the example of attitudes to children, whereby girls are treated as vulnerable snowflakes and boys are allowed to roam and explore, which has huge impacts on them later in life. And for any doubters about the validity and impacts that are derived from this study, it was conducted concurrently in 15 countries over a 4 year period in conjunction with the World Health Organisation.

That is why lumping people into two categories and just telling them to live with it doesn’t quite work. Especially as me wearing pink trainers doesn’t affect anyone else in anyway whatsoever. Whilst we are on the subject of shoes though, the high heel shoe, so commonly associated with women, was in fact, invented for, and worn by, middle-class men. Women stole the concept and ran with it (in a very awkward and funny way) – typical women, can’t create anything for themselves.*

More importantly though, and with my pink shoes aside, people lose their life over things like this. For you, it may mean using a different pronoun, or accepting that people wear different colours or that the science shows quite clearly the line between male and female is not as simply defined as you might like.

Just ask Caster Semenya, the female Olympic champion, who has female genitalia but has the genetics and hormones similar to the male sex. This has meant she has been vilified for something she had no control over, with fellow athletes calling for her to be banned altogether. They want her banned because they say it gives her an unfair advantage, which is like me saying I want every mens 100 meters runner banned because their far superior genetical makeup is a massively unfair advantage over my mediocre genetical makeup.

Whilst these things certainly put things in context, I am sure Caster would sympathise with me regarding my pink shoes, not to mention my Pioneer X-CM56D. The colour, clothes and things you buy are largely shaped by gender roles which are entirely defined by other people. Not only are they a complete fabrication, they are entirely pointless and cost people their lives. For me, it was just a bit of joking about pink shoes but for others, it results in a miserable life. We lament humans for being so sheep-like, but when someone wants to be a unicorn we chastise them. We need to break these pointless gender stereotypes and petition Schuh to restock some pink Adidas Campus trainers in size 9.5. 

Paul Green

*It is not.

*In every way possible.

*Sarcasm.

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47 Comments

  1. stainedclassmonarch

    Oh Mindfump! You just spoke my baby brother’s words. His choices of colors has always got him into trouble. Actually, him being a tasteful being altogether has got him into trouble most of the time. And “pink” has always been the top thing for him to be “laughed” at 😦
    Like most kids, the moment he realized it was “not for him” he backed out. But it is indeed hard for a person to part with things that they prefer. I think there is a very sad and subtle sexism, that makes the whole thing worse.
    Like, even though it’s NOT always appreciated by the “norms and standards” that we deem “old fashioned” for girls to develop liking in things that are “labelled” masculine. Like wearing clothes that men prefer, liking activities that are generally assumed something men would do, like gaming and liking certain genre of movies.
    BUT THESE TRAITS ARE PRAISED INFORMALLY!
    Like when a bunch of dudes find out a girl who is really into Iron Maiden or Iron Man, they go like “Wowwww! You’re so cool!”
    And if you reverse the scenario, it’s polar opposite. When a male individual expresses their liking for something that’s otherwise considered as a “feminine” thing to do, they get mocked or laughed at. Like enjoying needlework, liking romantic movies and stuff. Like was kind of a “running gag” in a buzzfeed video about “a girl who mostly hangs out with boys” where every boy admits they love “The Notebook” but this information is “highly confidential”!
    AND MOST OF US HAVE BEEN VICTIM OF THIS “ALTERNATIVE” SEXISM.
    Can it get any worse! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

      1. stainedclassmonarch

        HAHA! I’d love to accept that offer. If only you could use a blog being written at random times. 😛
        In all seriousness, thank you again for writing this one. And from the comments, I’ve gathered, people who are in the butt of such gender stereotyping aren’t small in number. It’ll probably take a village, but there is hope that this kind of behaviors are going to change. Have you noticed the #LetToysBeToys and #LetClothesBeClothes movements? They are working hard to end such color based gender stereotyping for kids. It’s incredible. And since you’re in Europe, it’s likely you will find ways to intellectually contribute to this incredible movement. Power to being human \m/

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Lockwood Echo

    Confession; I’m a girl and I love pink. Really LOVE pink. But would I love pink if I’d been born a boy? I will obviously never know, but it would be very interesting to find out. I’m also a girl who used to fix her own car, can’t walk in heels and my other half (bloke) has long hair and loves a rom-com. This is one of the best articles I’ve read on this subject. Love the sheep/unicorn line. Let’s all be unicorns. The world needs more unicorns. It does. Seriously. Look around.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. crackedreality

    Hey I hope you don’t mind me posting a link in a comment but I’ve written a couple of articles on similar things that I would like to share; https://theworldofjoshuajace.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/binary-genders-and-too-gay/

    As a male I was vilified for wanting long hair or to wear anything that didn’t conform to the “normal boy things”. I still see my parents doing it with my nephews and saying that “pink is for girls” or that “you want this one, this is the one for boys”. We even get it where I work when the wrapping paper for chocolate is two different colours; pink and blue. I’ve seen one boy who wanted the pink wrapped chocolate bar only for his mother to put it back and “explain” that “that one is for girls, you want the blue one.” He didn’t want the blue one but he didn’t want to argue with his mother.

    Liked by 1 person

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