Thursday, 12 May 2011

May 12, 2011 - Gendered Gifts

Wise Daughters carries lots of lovely baby sweaters, onesies, booties, bonnets and blankets, and most are sold as gifts.  Often I hear, "I can't buy the baby a gift yet, I don't know the sex."  And I wonder, why can't you just get the baby whatever you want?  Nearly everything I carry is what I would consider "gender-neutral", meaning neither blue nor pink.  Like the items pictured here. 

But it amazes me how many people are uncomfortable even with colours that are of indeterminate gender.  As if all kids have to be clearly labeled via their wardrobe.  A whole lot of people only want to buy pink for girls and blue for boys; some share that they'd choose something different, but this is what the baby's parents prefer. 

I have to wonder what harm people think - consciously or unconsciously - will come to baby girls who are mistaken for baby boys or vice versa.  What if every infant wore green or orange and people didn't know if they were addressing a boy or a girl?  Then they'd have to ask the kid's name, and the answer might well be "Cranberry" or "Clog" and they'd still be stumped.

There's lots of evidence to suggest gender divisions are getting more pronounced than ever - princesses in this corner, and tough guys in the other.  It's got to be homophobia, or perhaps more precisely a backlash against the relative fluidity of gender and sexual orientation that's come to be accepted among adults (in Canada anyway).  And it sucks.

I feel badly for all the boys whose parents actually dress them entirely in navy blue, grey or brown.  I've encountered shoppers who won't even put a boy in red.  Girls can get away with a lot more, but you can be sure the ones in the plain duds are still going to be in the back row of the class picture.

Wearing a particular colour won't make you gay any more than it will make you good at Scrabble, prone to hives, tone deaf or lactose intolerant. 

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