Apparently there has been a whole lot of hoopla about a J.Crew ad featuring a mother and her adorable sun sharing a very happy moment.
First of all, let me clarify something here. Gender, by definition, is the social construction of ones sex, based on stereotypes, and cultural and historical context. Sex, refers to the biological differences between male and female. If you have ever studied history, anthropology, or sociology (especially if you have studied it in a gender or women’s studies perspective) you wll have learned that gender roles have been different throughout cultures and history.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way: So a 5 year old boy likes the color pink. He’s seen his mother paint her nails. It seems very natural to me that he would want to try it. Maybe he really does like the color pink (the ad does claim that the boy (who is in fact the son of someone at J. Crew) loves the color pink). Again, why shouldn’t he like the color pink? To me, it is refreshing that he hasn’t already been exposed to so many gender stereotypes that he despises the color pink or has a problem with nailpolish. Really, his fondness for pink is much more natural than any Gender stereotype regarding colors (remember here that gender is something that is socially constructed, and really not natural at all).
Do colors and (what I will decide to call harmless) childs play really determine a persons future gender, future sexual preference, or sense of identity with a certain gender? I say no.
Growing up, my favorite color was blue. I painted my walls blue, had a blue backpack, wore blue clothes. Also, I played with legos. I had a race-car set of legos with the actual race-track. I loved playing with my sisters train set. I was also much more of an athlete than a girly girl. Still, I would say that I am very much a girl, not confused about my gender (or my sex), and also I am heterosexual. Not that it would make me any less of a good person if I weren’t any of the above. The only point is that there is no causal link between so-called “girly habits” (or “boyish habits”) and sexual/gendered confusion.
Out of the many criticisms I have read of this ad, I will only agree with one: the fact that perhaps, socially, the pink nails (and similar activities) is likely to set a boy up for a hard time in the future. It’s a shame, really. If my son came to me and wanted to paint his toenails pink, I would let him. And then I would probably pray long and hard that some little brat won’t tease him for being a “wuss” or a “girl” for having pink toenails. We should feel bad for the little brat, because he’s been taught such rigid gender roles and stereotypes that he will probably miss out on alot of fun experiences and wonderful people in his life.
//end feminist rant
ETA found this article/blog post. This chick says pretty much the same thing as me, except she does it much better.