julie: on gender stereotypes

I’m pretty sure this is the only purely “pink” thing in my house.  There are a few things that are a sort of fleshy color that is close to pinkish, and there are a few cups and saucers in a very old set that have a pink trim, but that’s about it.

When I was  four  I had a pink ballerina princess costume with a leotard and tights and a tutu for my birthday. It had a wand and a head thing that wasn’t really a crown but more like a fancy headband.  After that I had a couple dresses with some pink in the pattern, but they didn’t really have a pink “feel” to them.  Luckily, there was my little sister who loved the little girl dresses with pink flowers and ruffles that my mother loved to make for her.  She had a closet full of little dresses that she loved to be all ironed and in a neat row and she wore them with little Mary Jane shoes and ruffled socks.  She looked like one of the many dolls she had lined up in her room.  She liked that.

Once I got to pick my colors, pink was pretty much done.  And once she had someone else to stick in dresses, I was pretty much done with those as well.  It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like pink, but more that I liked other colors better.   Pink got too dirty too fast.

Here’s another view of the pink thing.

I saw this on the corner of a display with some really incredible and  beautiful things and I was positive that it was something someone had picked up to show someone, not to purchase, but just to kind of be amazed and amused, and then had just set it down anywhere.  That happens a lot with things that have very little “face” value or are just “that” strange,  at shows and in life…they just sort of get gawked at or used in whatever way they can be to provide others with a moment’s laugh or a few seconds of cruelty, and then are just dropped right there, not even given the dignity of being taken back to a place where they might have some sort of sense of, if not being wanted,  at least belonging.  Sometimes when I see that I pick the piece up and see if I maybe pass the place that it may have come from, usually it isn’t far, that kind of thing is usually quick;  grab, point, stare, laugh, drop,  move on.

I had a pink turtleneck cashmere sweater that my son’s father gave me that I loved.  I wore it until it couldn’t be worn anymore.  It was the only pink piece of clothing I had had in years and I haven’t had many more since; maybe five, of which I maybe wore two and those two not very often.  For a couple of my teenage years,  my father did this really,  let’s say annoying and leave it there, thing at holidays;  my sister and I would receive  an identical article, a shirt or a sweater, but in different colors,  hers would be brown, burgundy, dark greens or black; mine, orange or pink,  red or yellow, generally having the appearance close to what could be described as “pastel-colored.”  I can still clearly see one set of two that he got from Abercrombie and Fitch.  They were both really nice, they had great colors at that store, but there is a difference between recognizing the beauty of a particular thing and wanting to wear it.   That shirt sat unworn in my drawer for years until I finally gave it away.

I worked for several years for a company where the wife was the owner and the “Big boss,” but the husband spend a great deal more time in the stores.  She mostly came out for reviews and holidays.  One year she suggested that I wear more bright colors, “like pink would be great” and if at all possible,  “a little more make-up maybe.”  She seemed equally unable to process both the fact that I had not just said “okay” and  my response that I really didn’t own anything that was pink.  The District Manager, who was sitting next to her, seemed perplexed when I asked if they would be making the same suggestion during any of the other GM reviews that week.  And everyone was obviously annoyed when I said that I hadn’t ever seen him or the husband in a pink shirt and pointed out that in fact one of the managers at the Hyde Park store did wear sort of  “Salmon Pinkish” colored shirts sometimes and that maybe I would see if he wanted to give one to me or the District Manager.  We moved on with my review.  I moved to another place of employment about a year later.   I bought two pink shirts which I wore while I was interviewing for that new position, just seemed like a fun thing to do.

The topic of gender stereotyping is actually really important to me.  It really has had a great impact on my life in many ways.  I was going to try to do a really very deep, serious,  and revealing piece on it because I think there are some aspects of it that really are important for people to look at and at hopefully stop participating in or,  at the very least, really realize and begin to be aware of.   But then I was in the emergency room early this week and I saw part of a show on which they were talking about the book, “50 Shades of Grey,” and that got me thinking about some of the really serious sides of this topic that don’t but I think  should get much conversation.  When I do hear some of it discussed, those conversations often seem to end up as a form of stereotype.  But I haven’t read that book so I can’t be sure that what I heard people talking about is everything in it and so I need to read it first and was going to order it when I got home but was so annoyed about the whole reason I was in the emergency room that I forgot until it was too late to have time to read it carefully enough to use it as a catalyst for comment in this entry.  So I had to not do any of that because I would have gone too near something I wasn’t positive about because once I get something like that in my head I either have to talk about it or leave it totally alone.  But I am going to read it and then I will comment about it.

So instead of all of that I thought of my little pink poodle.  I did find the table and I paid $2 and brought him home.  He is part of a small collection I have of things that are just so strange, kind of hideous almost but at the same time riveting.  This mold was maybe made with the thought of little girls or women who like little girl things or of collectors of some kinds of something?  Okay.  I have tried to imagine it in other colors and maybe there are some out there that look great.  But here is the thing about this little guy…he has gold sparkly here, and white lacey stuff there, and long eyelashes on cute eyes, but ends up looking so sad because they didn’t give him a smile.  Really not right for a pink poodle with a gold collar, something is just all wrong.  So this one ended up with me, someone who never really liked a whole lot of “little girl” things when she was a little girl, and still doesn’t.  But is a collector of some kinds of some things.

(Oh, and I would just like to point out that last week Ginny pondered why I would pick blue jeans, a rather harmless and interesting/fun thing to muse about on a Sunday morning….and then picked “gender stereotyping.”  Maybe she would care to explain why that is not at least equally, if not more, something of a ponderance?)

3 thoughts on “julie: on gender stereotypes

  1. Hopefully I answered your ponderance with my entry for our blog. It was on my mind after the sermon and I just wanted to talk about it a bit, seeing as how I was playing nice and not emailing the pastor directly.

    What you wrote about some of the conversations about stereotypes end up being a form of stereotype described exactly one of the problems I had with this topic. I was going to go outward from the sermon but every way I came at it seemed to be reinforcing a stereotype.

    • You did, but: Here’s the thing for me. A fat person is fat, that’s just a fact. A short person is short, just a fact. A woman is a woman, just a fact. A person is Black, just a fact.

      How much overweight does it take to be fat? How short it short? Who defines these, they are relative, no? What exactly defines a woman; what defines a Black person? I’ll come back to this.

      Fat people are sloppy.

      He is not a Compassionate Conservative.

      Black people love Fried Chicken.

      I’ll be back.

  2. Julie, I love that you pick up and try to return abandoned items to their rightful places, and I REALLY love that you sometimes adopt them and make a place for them in your life! I don’t know you but I feel that the world needs more people like you. 🙂

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