Being in the Pink in Twenty-Twelve

As a child and as a teenager, I refused to wear pink.  I would recoil whenever my mom suggested it.  I was twenty when my best friend convinced me that it was okay to start wearing pink, that it was a good color on me.  Before that, I always resented the implication.  I felt like it was a color for little girls, not women.  Now, I embrace it.  I still like blue better, but feminine can be good too.

It’s just, in many ways, complicated to be female.  It’s that push-pull between girly being acceptable and charming and girly being… an insult.  I’m not saying we need to grab pitchforks every time someone uses the word girly, but it’s definitely a word with two very different connotations.

Because female roles in the last century have flipped and flopped over and over again, gender has become more complicated than ever.  Working in the home versus working outside the home (whether via choice or via necessity), granola mom versus childless executive, and everything in between…  That’s without getting into all possible living arrangements (and re-arrangements).

To be honest, I’m not even that great at keeping track of my own roles.  When strangers ask, I typically tell them I’m a stay-at-home mom… even though I’ve been back in school for two years!  I don’t do it to lie to people; it’s just become a stock in trade answer for me (and it’s generally not worth amending my answer for complete strangers).

Having been born in the late seventies, it’s hard for me to imagine that once upon a time, women had very few options outside the home, that they had few rights to inheritance, education, property, or even their own bodies.  When my grandmother had breast cancer in the 1940’s my grandfather had to sign a waiver before they removed her breast.  Of course, back then, breast cancer flew under the radar, and the support network that is everywhere now just didn’t exist.  You simply stuffed your bra, and lived the rest of your life minus one boob…  And that’s assuming your husband was kind enough to sign the waiver!


This still is from Womanhouse, a feminist art project in the seventies. (Photo Credit: http://bodytracks.org)

Do I really think women and men are entirely equal or treated entirely the same?  No, it definitely depends on where you are.  There are still people, places, and organizations that are incredibly backwards and sexist.  However, it’s also clear that we’ve come a hell of a long way, especially in the western world.  We live in a world that’s far from perfect, but we have the freedom to make (and defend) our own choices.

So, here’s to gaining the right to vote*, being female in the twenty-first century, to having choices, to remembering how and why we have so many freedoms, to defending those freedoms, and standing up for women in other areas of the world who weren’t nearly so lucky.

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ~Gloria Steinem

Feel free to add to this post, however you see fit.  It is far from complete as is…  (I  was trying to keep the post itself brief, so please read the comments section as well.)

*I know that I’m technically a day early on this post.  And I probably should have included a photo of Alice Paul, but I found this picture interesting in its own right.

 **The phrase “in the pink” means being in perfect health.

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21 Responses to Being in the Pink in Twenty-Twelve

  1. El Guapo says:

    Not just enough to have those choices now. they still have to be fought for and defended.

    Is tomorrow the anniversary of suffrage?

    • So true. It’s always a slippery slope. Women in the seventies in Afghanistan walked around just like you and I, and held positions as scientists and civil servants. And they definitely didn’t require male relatives to escort them from place to place…

      Yes, tomorrow is.

  2. Liverwurst says:

    In some areas, we’ve come full circle. In my industry, which is very entrepreneurial, female candidates are coveted. If you’re a highly qualified male applying for work, expect to be passed over if a similarly qualified female is available.

    • I think this is true in several fields… but it won’t prevent job interviewers from asking female candidates whether or not they want to have children… and possibly disqualifying female candidates for that reason.

      It definitely cuts both ways.

  3. The Hobbler says:

    Well said. My husband wrote the other side of the man/woman thing today. I think both of you are right in many ways.

  4. Women have come a long way but there’s still a long way to go and a lot to do. I appreciate how much easier we have it now than our grandmothers–even our mothers–did, but on a regular basis I see how women are treated differently, less seriously, than men. And that’s here in NYC—I can’t even imagine how it is in other parts of the country where attitudes towards women aren’t quite so…enlightened. Not to mention in other countries where women routinely risk death just for doing things we take for granted.

    • Yeah, that was what I thinking about as I was trying to conclude it, how much safety and freedom we have here, as opposed to other places where being female automatically makes you second class. And even though we have legal rights everywhere in the US, that doesn’t mean much in some areas.

      I’ve seen some pretty backwards stuff here too, although it cuts both ways. In some circles, being female is a definite advantage, and in others it’s a huge drawback. I’m always surprised to hear about potential employers who ask whether or not women plan on having children… never mind that the question is illegal.

  5. To this day I cannot understand inequality of any kind–I have always felt equal and I get angry when women are not treated with the respect they deserve–and I was not born in the 70s–I was born in the 50s. My mom was strong and independent and never once did I hear about girls being weaker than boys–and my dad, though he admitted to me later that he had certain views told me that having daughters made him aware that opportunities should be equal
    I am glad you are proud to be a stay at home mom–but I still do not undertand why we have to define ourselves.

    • Actually, the thing that gets me is not the definitions. I could care less about those. It’s the folks who want to go to war over those definitions, and the folks who think they are somehow better because they make choice X, when all of those choices should be valid! (I’m barring the ridiculous, of course, like choosing to do drugs while pregnant.)

      I was lucky because my father thinks my mother is the smartest person on earth. (And she is extremely bright.) So, even though neither of my parents would call themselves progressive, that set a great example for my sister and I.

  6. Peaches says:

    I loved this. I love all feminist-ish posts anyways, but I really relate to your issues with the color pink. I still avoid them for the most part, but I will wear a fushia or magenta now. Sometimes, I’ll even wear a peach or a salmon. I can’t wear outright pink because I don’t have the right complexion, but I no longer disregard it outright.

    I still prefer green though.

    • Thanks! I was trying to make it more personal than “Tomorrow is the 92nd anniversary of the nineteenth amendment.” Meanwhile, it’s such a loaded subject, this post could have easily come in at 3000 words. (And I’m guessing no one wants to read that…)

      Although… well, I am always curious how other people feel about this. I think we’re close in age (I’m 33) and our generation didn’t struggle as much as the generations before us. That’s not to say it’s a done deal though. It seems to be ever evolving.

      • Peaches says:

        I have no idea where generational boundaries are drawn if I am being perfectly honest. they seem so arbitrary sometimes. If it helps, I’m 26, but I agree. The women who came before us did some awesome work, but we still have some left to do for our daughters and granddaughters.

  7. Our baby is due in early October – a girl – and baby clothes tend to be hyper gender specific. Either PINK FRILL FLOWER LADYBUG or BLUE CAR FOOTBALL WRENCH. This puts you in the position of either buying into gender stuff which makes it easier for people who meet the baby and such, or intentionally go the opposite and then it feels like you’re trying too hard to buck the system. Tough stuff.

    • It’s funny because gender roles 200 years ago were practically set in stone based on gender, class, and country… but the baby clothes were all the same and most people didn’t bother with haircuts. So you could barely distinguish boys from girls until they reached “breeching age”. Now, gender roles are way more flexible… Yet hyper-boy and hyper-girl baby things are everywhere. And even if you register for gender neutral stuff, if you tell people what you’re having, you end up with stuff that’s almost exclusively pink or blue.

      I have to say though, I’m really glad we had our boys first. Because even though I never cared about getting gender specific stuff, I’d way rather have had a blue plaid bassinet, stroller, highchair, carseat, etc… I’m guessing all that pink butterfly stuff gets old fast. And October is SOON…

  8. Mooselicker says:

    In time all discrepencies clear themselves out. There’s no one thing that ever needs to happen. Too bad humans aren’t all unisex and the same race. We’d have nothing to hate about each other.

    • You know the unisex idea is actually really interesting. Someone reminded me that male seahorses carry the baby, and I thought “Well, maybe the male is really the female.” Or maybe we’re all wrong, and the female is really the male. Ahhh, the possibilities for science fiction novels are everywhere…

  9. I think the further we come, the further back they set the finish line.

    • That’s another interesting idea. I don’t know if you run, but that last mile of a half-marathon or marathon (I’ve never ran the full, but from everything I’ve read) is the worst. In part because it’s actually over a mile.

  10. haphillips says:

    In the Marine Corps, we are currently researching the implications of women in full-on combat roles. It’s a different world even from just five years ago.

    • Yeah, after skydiving, my friend and I were saying we were going to train to become Navy Seals. (I’m actually a really good shot and we’re both decent runners.) We’re not actually going to do it, but it’s interesting to think that we could. Meanwhile my Grandma couldn’t even get cancerous lumps removed without my Grandfather’s signature…

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