The Color Pink, Early Christmas Fatigue, and Our Unconventional Family

Penny playing

This post will mostly consist of thought spew.  Doesn’t that sound appetizing?

The stores and commercials on television are already all about Christmas and as tedious as it might seem to some of you Christmas fanatics to hear yet another Grinch complain about this – it really is disgusting.  It disgusts me and it depresses me.  I’m not a big shopper in the first place but obviously I am repulsed by Black Friday which has now become Black Thursday, a day I used to know as Thanksgiving.

I’m hearing a number of women on my facebook stream complaining about targeted marketing to girls – specifically with regards to color.  This reminds me of the brilliant bit Elle Degeneres did on the “Bic for Her” campaign.  Some women seem to think that if manufacturers didn’t make girls’ toys in pink and purple that girls wouldn’t like it – that girls are being essentially brainwashed into liking pink.  I personally think that gives too much credit to manufacturers power to tell us what we like and too little credit to girls being able to decide for themselves what colors they like.  I grew up in a sea of pink toys and yet I’ve never liked pink and managed not to have very much of it in my life.  And it’s not like I didn’t like conventional girl toys either.  I did.  I was UBER-GIRLY in my love for Barbie dolls and playing dress up.  But my Barbies, who were packaged liberally in sparkly pink boxes, rarely wore pink once in my hands.  I believe that manufacturers make what they think girls want and if girls keep choosing pink they’ll keep piling the shelves with pink.

Mostly I think it’s a waste of time to obsess over gender targeted toy and color choices.  As a parent you can offer your children more choices in toys and colors available to them and if your girl wants dolls and pink – let go.  If your girl wants to wear black and play with trucks – that’s great.  I gave my boy a baby doll when he was little and he banged its head against the wall for fun so I took it away.  He liked weapons and trucks and trains.  So what?  He had a choice, he chose, and it’s okay.  It doesn’t mean I’m training him up to be a chauvinist.  A neighbor boy of his same age had a choice too and nurtured and loved his dolls.  Totally cool.

What I’m saying is – I find it offensive to suggest that the only reason girls like pink is that they’re being brainwashed to like it.  Also – while I don’t love pink – what the fuck is wrong with girls liking it?

This book came to my attention yesterday: To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl.  I’m not going to link to the book because it’s evil, instead I’m linking to the article that led me to it.  Michael and Debi Pearl should be jailed for encouraging people to criminally abuse their children.  Manson is in jail for getting other people to commit murders.  This couple is responsible for inciting parents to whip and starve children into submission.  This is an example of religion causing people to do evil instead of good.  It makes me sick to my stomach.

It’s raining today and I LOVE IT.  Max is loving it too.  We don’t miss much about living in Oregon (besides missing our friends there) but the weather – oh man, I really miss the weather!

Max’s birthday is tomorrow and he’s turning 13.  Jesus!  He’s a real teen now.

Yesterday he mentioned his directed studies class (for kids with IEPs) in which they were working on making a coupon book of potential treats they could have for good behavior.  Max couldn’t really think of anything and when the teacher suggested things like “How about you get to go out to eat and you get to choose the restaurant you go to?” and Max explained that he always gets to choose where we go.  After a few more suggestions which Max explained weren’t treats because he already gets pretty much everything he wants he said the teacher made a comment about him maybe being spoiled.  This makes us look like such bad parents.

But the truth is, we’re not a conventional family in any way.  Max gets to choose where we go out as a family because there are only a few places where there’s anything he likes to eat.  Going out to eat as a family should be enjoyable to all of us.  So he gets to choose which of the three places that have things he’ll eat we go to.  There’s something for Philip and I at each of them so we don’t really care.  We’re not sacrificing anything by letting him choose.  When Philip and I go out alone we go places that Max won’t go.  Everything is a kind of negotiation in our family between all of our particular “special needs”.

He doesn’t get whatever he wants whenever he wants it but he doesn’t really ask for a lot of stuff.  So if we can afford what he wants it’s often okay.  And when we can’t afford things he’s pretty understanding.  There is a lot of harmony in our family and our child is treated as an equal in many ways.  When it’s important that he do as I say or that he cooperate – I don’t have to work very hard to get it because he feels respected and loved and safe in this house and he knows I don’t ask a lot of him.

But we really do look like bad parents most of the time.  That’s okay.  I prefer the harmony in my little family over the incredible discord and fighting that I grew up with.

Now I’m going to warn you who are still following my blog that I’m going to be flogging you with my book.  I’m going to include a link to buy my book in every post at the bottom.  I’m going to ask you to tell others about it and if you can think of any way I can promote it – please share your ideas.  I have, in the past, completely sucked at marketing my products.  But here’s the deal: I want to make a living as a novelist and I’ve got a lot of things going against me (being an unknown author and being self published are two of the biggest factors I have to overcome) so if I want to succeed I’m going to have to get good at this marketing thing.  Even if it makes me exquisitely uncomfortable.  This is the most important thing I’ve ever done and there is nothing I want more than making a living writing novels.  So I have to really go for it.  And that means I’m going to ask for your help and I’m going to plaster links to my book everywhere I possibly can.  Okay?

I’m going to succeed at this.


  1. Diane says:

    Just wanted to let you know that the link to your book on Amazon from a day or two ago didn’t work for me. I still plan to go to Amazon and buy it though!

  2. Sarah says:

    I’m sitting here flabbergasted at that teacher thinking that coupon books for good behavior rewards are a good idea. But then I’m flabbergasted by most of what happens in most schools. And I think your family is doing it right, but you know that.

    And I get what you’re saying about the pink and largely agree with you, but it’s now so ubiquitous that you can’t find toys in a mainstream toy store that aren’t gender coded by color. They even have the aisles divided into girl and boy aisles. It’s either pink or it’s blue. If you’re lucky, you can find red sometimes. My kids have always played with what they wanted without regard to gender, but it was certainly easier to find toys in other colors when my other kids were small. I guess that’s why I spend twice as much at my independent toy store that stocks gender neutral toys by small makers or imported from Europe. And most people won’t or can’t make that choice. Sigh.

    And now I think I’ll go for a ride to the science center on my red bike with Kit wearing her red helmet because we like red and we like science.

  3. angelina says:

    I have no argument against a coupon book of treats for good behavior. But we just don’t work that way in our family.

    I don’t think “most” people feel the need to make that choice and those who feel it’s important, like you, do make that choice. I think a far bigger culprit in teaching kids gender inequality are parents and the way they treat each other. I see a lot of moms who make much of their childrens’ needs but don’t think their own needs are as important. What does that teach children about the roles and importance of women? I have heard a lot of women friends express guilt about anything they do for themselves or time they take off from their kids or money they spend on themselves. What is that teaching their children about a woman’s worth?

    It seems to me that the stores that are most aggressive with their gendered toy isles are stores you wouldn’t shop in for your kids anyway for other reasons. You mentioned certain people buying things for your kids that they don’t even like – people who don’t pay attention to what your kids specific tastes are aren’t going to magically buy them toys they really like just because a store is gender neutral. What will happen is that they will buy gender-neutral toys your kids don’t like. People who don’t pay attention to kids’ individual tastes are always going to buy kids toys they don’t want no matter what choices are put before them.

  4. angelina says:

    Thanks for letting me know that Diane – I’ll go back and fix it. AND thank you for planning to buy a copy of my book! If you want a paperback instead of an e-book then wait a little longer. Philip is working his butt off preparing the book in In-design and should be submitting it to the print company soon.

  5. Lonnie says:

    I’m not a big fan of the school’s coupon book. That said, I think you’re parenting Max very well and I wish him a happy birthday!
    Somewhere in the back of my mind, I seem to remember that years ago, blue was the color for girls and pink was the preferred color for boys (Victorian England?). I did have trouble finding some toys in a well-known store – didn’t know enough to look in the “pink aisle” for a Lego set for my granddaughter (silly Grandma, I thought all of the Lego sets would be together). My children selected toys which appealed – the boy played with early action figures (which his shocked father called “dolls”[this was over thirty years ago]) and the girl played with trucks [over a decade later, same father was more enlightened] – I now have a lovely collection of mint-in-box dolls (she never played with them). They both always loved their Lego sets (which I did encourage) and K’Nex; both are engineers; both are confident, competent, creative and compassionate. Their mother didn’t believe in stereotyping, either (I was a math major – nobody told me “girls” couldn’t do math).
    Several famous authors, who initially self-published, come to mind – Christopher Paolini (“Eragon”) and Richard Paul Evans (“The Christmas Box”). Keep writing!

  6. angelina says:

    I don’t believe in stereotyping gender roles either – in my own home and in my life. I just don’t agree that manufacturers are undermining feminism and I most certainly don’t think girls are being pressured and brainwashed to like pink by manufacturers. Or that boys are being pressured or brainwashed to not like pink by manufacturers. I think this happens with parents and peers. There are always going to be trends in manufacturing and so when enough people get sick of pink being the predominant color of things for girls and STOP BUYING IT – the manufacturers will eventually respond with different choices and will follow new trends being set by purchasing power.

    Legos are awesome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.