The Pink Obsession

Hugo Schwyzer published a post titled “Should You Let Your Little Girl Embrace Princesshood?” It is an unexpectedly refreshing post that demonstrates the idiocy of banning princesses, color pink, and Disney movies from a child’s life as some sort of a feminist gesture.

Nothing stuns me more than earnest discussions of quasi-feminists about the horrors supposedly done to a child’s future role in life by color pink, Barbie dolls, and Disney movies. They publish endless reports detailing how they have protected their innocent toddler from the pernicious influence of this or that color. I have to ask, are they really so lacking in knowledge about the mechanisms of the formation of the human psyche, or is this obsession with trivial stuff their way to relinquish their responsibility for their child’s upbringing?

Even adolescents know these days that a child’s vision of gender roles is formed on the basis of the relationship the child observes between her or his parents. You can paper every surface of that child’s life with pink and play Disney videos at her all day long and that will change nothing in how she sees gender roles. Toys, colors, and videos do not bring children up. Parents do.

So when I see anti-pink and anti-Disney rants, I wonder if people are dense or irresponsible. I see no alternative possibility.

24 thoughts on “The Pink Obsession”

  1. I think many parents under-estimate their kids, and they are so worried about the details that they forget that kids are more concerned about the big picture. The big picture is spending time with loving parents (or parent), and also doing nothing in particular on their own. If they get that plus a reasonable diet, I think that most kids would be pretty happy.

    After that, it’s a question of listening and respecting, guiding and suggesting, but certainly not adopting a draconian set of rules which outlaw stupid details like the colour pink and Disney films. Any child worth his or her salt will be fascinated by what is forbidden and seek to do/have it asap, probably in unhealthy quantities too.

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    1. “The big picture is spending time with loving parents (or parent), and also doing nothing in particular on their own. If they get that plus a reasonable diet, I think that most kids would be pretty happy.”

      – I agree completely.

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  2. My daughter didn’t go for the pink. If we’d pushed that on her it would have been just as useless as banning it for a kid who liked that kind of stuff. She did like Mulan, a disney heroine who kicked a lot of ass while dressed as a boy.

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  3. When my youngest son was two or three, he wanted everything to be red – his favourite colour. If red was not available, he took light red (pink).

    My oldest son wore shoes with purple flowers on them when he was in Kindergarten. He choose them, and insisted on wearing them because purple was his favourite, and he liked flowers. He also has AS, so he didn’t care what anyone else thought of it.

    They played with dolls and teddy bears. Had an easy bake oven. Watched Disney Princess movies.

    They also had trucks, trains, etc. Little tool kits. Watched “boy” movies.

    They have both grown up to be wellirounded youg men.

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    1. “They have both grown up to be wellirounded youg men.”

      – You respect their childhood preferences and just let them be, and they grow up into happy and healthy men. That’s how it should be, I believe.

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  4. // Even adolescents know these days that a child’s vision of gender roles is formed on the basis of the relationship the child observes between her or his parents.

    What if there is only 1 parent?

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  5. Anti-pink and anti-Disney are different phenomena. The disnification of culture is real. They take from the public domain, and don’t give back. Ever.

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    1. I would like to see you explain the concept of a public domain to a 5 year old. 🙂

      I agree that Disney is crap and all Hollywood is crap. But children are not their parents’ billboards. They shouldn’t be deprived. Believe me, there is nothing pleasant in being barred from enjoying pop culture by your parents’ ideological hang-ups and feeling like an outcast among other kids.

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      1. It’s so true what the article says! My students can’t deal with any work of literature or film that doesn’t have the most saccharine, cloying, annoying happy ending imaginable. Their worldview becomes completely one-dimensional.

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  6. As I said, I’ve been studying a lot of these Men’s Right’s videos lately (I obviously need a real project and the devil is making work for empty hands)

    What I have concluded, rather indirectly, from their raucous rhetorical pieces and half truths, is that women have been valorizing femininity and calling it “feminism”.

    Perhaps the idea that by keeping one’s child away from pink one is doing a good job as a mother is one of the ways in which feminism and femininity get confused with one another. After all, the detailed procedures of mothering ought not, I think, to be considered a feminist concern.

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  7. I loved Disney movies as a kid. When I was seven, my two heroes were Disney characters, Esmeralda and Pocahontas. I had the Disney dolls and their accessories, I held a Beauty & The Beast themed birthday party for my eighth birthday, and my mom often sewed me costumes that looked like Disney princess outfits. I don’t think anyone can dispute the staunchness of my feminism, so obviously, my childhood love of Disney didn’t turn me into a passive dope who waits around for a prince to save her.
    When I have kids of my own, I’m not going to pitch a fit if they want to watch any Disney films. I might even join in watching them, if they’re an old favourite of mine. 🙂

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  8. Personally, I don’t think it’s the pink itself that is harmful, rather its extreme over-use and the ideas associated without, like my daughter is a “princess”. When I see babys or toddlers dressed all in pink (possibly with pierced ears), I start to wonder how their parents will react to non gender-conformist behaviour. When these parents later on tell you that they treated their daughter exactly like their son, and obviously their differences in behavior must be due to biology, it’s kind of “oh, really?”.

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  9. If parents make it a big deal it will become a big deal. Children want what they are told they can’t have. I think banning ‘princesses’ or ‘pink’ causes more harm than it prevents.

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  10. I agree with your overall stance, but banning and just not having it around are two different things. There are literally hundreds of alternatives to Disney in childhood literature, movies, and cultural exposure that it’s often sheer laziness (and their own childhood exposure) that causes parents to fill a kid’s room with Disneyana.
    I enjoy Disney and was a huge fan of their comeback of the musical form (which almost no live studios do anymore). But there’s a balance and Disney only need be a tiny piece of a child’s life if it’s there at all.
    When the child brings it up or expresses direct interest, then you can incorporate that aspect then.

    I think you’re being overly harsh on the gender relations observation piece. Many families have a single parent without another gendered role model available or, if they are, they may not be much of a role model.

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    1. “I think you’re being overly harsh on the gender relations observation piece. Many families have a single parent without another gendered role model available or, if they are, they may not be much of a role model.”

      – They should know what awaits their child. Not knowing what’s in store doesn’t make it less real.

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  11. “that demonstrates the idiocy of banning princesses, color pink, and Disney movies from a child’s life as some sort of a feminist gesture” – I really didn’t get that from the article. I don’t know anyone who bans their child from pink or Disney – you say children are not their parent’s billboards and yet I see plenty of little girls being used used as pink billboards for Disney. Children are heavily influenced by the culture they see around them, why adverts?

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    1. I can only repeat for the bizillionth time that all those people who undergo psychotherapy and psychoanalysis keep discussing the damage their parents inflicted on them. Cases of psychological damage inflicted by Disney are not known to humanity.

      Disney can plaster the entire planet with billboards without leaving an inch of ground uncovered and that would not have nearly the same power on a developing girl than a single comment or look from her father.

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  12. The concentrated marketing of adventure and violence-themed toys to boys, and domestic, image-obsessed and “sexy” toys to girls is appalling, and those who say that this marketing has no impact on children and on parents must be, to paraphrase, either “dense or irresponsible”

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