Hurrah, you can vote! Have a pink cupcake.
Today we vote because a hundred years ago women shouted, fought, chained themselves to things and went to prison for it. There is a thumping irony that this is the day I noticed something that might have made them frown.
I was in Boots looking for a shampoo shield for my four-year-old, who hates having her hair washed. They didn’t have one, but I did walk past this display.
When I’d done a double-take and picked my jaw off the floor, I returned to take the picture. It’s currently going viral on Twitter, getting caught up with hashtags like #everydaysexism and being retweeted by a lot of people who are just as angry as I am (as I write this, Twitter has told me I am trending in London). Who said we are in a post-feminist age?
Let’s just look at that picture more closely. Obviously the colours are different. But it works on a deeper and more insidious level than that. The font for the boys is businesslike: it’s not quite Times New Roman or American Typewriter (maybe some of you font-spotters can identify it?), but it shouts with all its serif might that it’s a no-nonsense font saying down-to-earth things. The girls get a cursive font that practically giggles behind its hand. Boys are in charge, going places. Girls are both ‘little’ and apparently delicious.
I’m not going to start on their ignorance of possessive apostrophes. My blood pressure can only go so high today. There was no third option, in yellow or green or some other neutral colour. I am leaving aside the whole issue of putting your child on a leash in the first place.
This is not what the suffragettes had in mind for our bright, articulate, funny girls who like to run and climb and shout. What about boys who like pink and cooking? What are we saying to them? I think sexism in marketing, especially to children, is getting worse. I don’t remember such a pink/blue divide when I was growing up. For god’s sake, we’re going the wrong way.
Last year I blogged about the sexism we feed our children in the form of the fridge magnet words we allow them to use, called ‘Words for girls and words for boys’. I keep hoping things are moving on. I keep getting disappointed.
I’m going to call them out on it, every time. Have you voted?
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen a lot of this but never noticed the fonts before. That’s a bit insidious…
I notice sexism a lot, perhaps because all my children are the same sex, so our belongings can, if we’re not careful, get a bit polarised… (mine are boys; in the days before I paid particular attention, we had an exclusively blue and green wardrobe).
It makes me feel super-protective of the next generation when I see, for example, politicians speak about “protecting women from rape” (how about protecting everyone from rape?) and it’s going to be harder to achieve real gender equality, or even focus on the necessary issues (crime and violence, rather than gender per se) if we raise our very young children with an implicit belief that girls and boys are so fundamentally different that they need their own colours, fonts and labels from birth onwards. We need to get this sorted out now, so that the next generation spend more time equalising resources between rich and poor, or healthy and sick, rather than “pink and blue”.
Well said, Tracey. I spend a lot of time talking to my kids (one boy, one girl) about this, wondering why I still have to.
It’s a very interesting issue, and for about a year, I’ve been doing my own little incidental study – from children’s point of view. I reward my music pupils with beads which they string on scooby. I have a vast supply of colours. I’ve noticed two interesting habits. Boys in boy-only families often choose pink or purple, they say they like it. Other boys tend to stick to camouflage colours. Girls will choose any colour at all, in spite of my vast collection of pink and sparkly beads – often girls make patterns or collect all shades of green for example. Some do choose pink, but they often justify it. I think the girls themselves, even the very young ones, are aware of stereotyping issues.
That’s very interesting. They absolutely do learn what we teach them. My son’s favourite colours for his first five years were pink and purple: his own choice.
Yes, precisely. Boots may have made a stupidly ignorant marketing decision, but I have utter faith in children; our girls, even the little ones, have I think absorbed history and can see through it.
That’s a genuinely imrpessive answer.