James' favorite color is pink, and it has been since he was old enough to identify colors. Two years old, maybe? Not that this should particularly matter, anyway, but pink, for most of American history, has been considered a masculine color. It was thought of as "too striking" or "too aggressive" for women to wear, until around 1950. Why? During war, rivers run pink, because that's what you get when you mix lots of blood with water. Think about that the next time you get out your poodle skirt!
As a relatively progressive parent (or at least one who aspires to be progressive) the color thing genuinely doesn't bother me. It doesn't even bother my husband, who is admittedly more sucked into societal norms than I am. Probably a good thing; it might just keep me from having purple spiked hair for a parent-teacher conference, right? But the pink thing doesn't bother either of us, regardless of its history.
However...I hate to admit this...many items that happen to be pink are another story.
I'll start with one that's easy for everyone, even ideologically, to agree to: I hate pink string bikinis for babies and toddlers. Just leave the baby naked, for heaven's sake. Putting pink stars over her nipples is a great way to sexualize a one year old! It's disturbing. And it really doesn't matter if the thing is pink or olive green. So that notion of mine - that's not a confession, because I think I'm right about that, as a parent and as a UU.
Speaking of bathing suits, though, last summer, James went with me to pick one out. He had hit a growth spurt, turned three, and needed a new one. I thought it was a good age for him to get to pick one himself. We walked into Reny's (the great Maine adventure, for the uninitiated!) and went straight for the bathing suit rack. And James went straight to a pink one piece with ruffles on the butt and flowers all over it. "Mom, I want that one."
Well, what the hell. Damn. What do I do now? I'm supposed to be a feminist. I'm an active supporter of LGBTQ, and I'm a big proponent of doing whatever it is that makes you happy, as long as it involves your personal self and/or other consenting adults. But, really. Pink ruffles on the butt? Seriously, James?
I froze for a moment. Do I say yes without telling him anything else? Do I tell him that since all kids look pretty much the same, other than hair and clothing, til puberty, that people in our current society might assume he has different parts if he wears that suit? Do I make this part of my crusade against sexism, my crusade for tolerance? What do I do?
"Hey, James! There's a dinosaur on that suit over there!!"
"Wow, Mom! I want the one with the dinosaurs!"
That's what I do.