No, this is not about any relatively new television series, although if I get to sit and watch it, I might have something to say.
This one is about baby clothing and gender stereotypes.
I was recently out buying baby clothes with my mom, as the sprog has grown prodigiously and no longer fits hir cousin’s hand-me-downs for spring/summer, and is running out of warm weather options just as it is approaching. We browsed a couple of department stores, searching for things that would 1) fit 2) look good on the sprog and 3) not be so gender-stereotyping they would send me screaming into the abyss.
Turns out baby departments are territory hostile to radical feminists. Sisters, take note.
It’s bad enough that clothes are 100% divided up into “boys” and “girls”, with very few items that could be mistaken one for the other: girls’ stuff is some combination of pink*, ruffley, lacy and/or floral; whereas boys’ stuff involves primary colors, sports, wild animals and/or heavy machinery. There are no lacy bits or extra frills on boys’ clothes: it’s as if one expected boys to use clothing, rather than just sit there and be pretty.
Apparently frogs are some sort of neutral ground, appearing on both “boyish” and “girly” outfits. We came home with a lot of frogs.
The one thing I Will Not Do, however, is turn the sprog into an advertisement, especially if the clothing item in question purports to speak for or describe the child wearing it. The only types of things I will allow on the sprog speak the truth about something other than what an infant might be or think, thus:
or which might be objectively true of any baby, thus:
What pisses me off to no end are the ones that shout, to the world, that This Baby Is A Boy/Girl by way of gender stereotyping. Nothing like girding a child in “Future MVP” or “Future Chocoholic” to declare to the world that you buy into the hype, that, yes indeed, Boys/Girls are Like That.
Then there is, of course, “Daddy’s Little Girl”. “Mommy’s Little Boy” does show up, but also making an appearance is “Mommy’s Little Man“. Boys will eventually grow up into men; this is acknowledged. The only alternative for girls however, is to be…
This message is just fraught with misogyny and sexism: the princess stereotype is of a vapid, decorative, spoiled and vain woman; demanding and privileged and quite content to remain that way. Part of this may be class-based, but most of it is misogynist. The role of prince is often much more dignified, more serious than that of princess, and prince-as-hero usually has his own destiny to fulfill, instead of an evil stepmother to escape and a rescue-via-heroic-dude to find.
Believe it or not, there IS a shirt that approximates “Daddy’s Little Princess”, one “for boys”, that I didn’t know existed until I went shopping with my mom, and saw this:
“Now,” I can hear you** saying, “now that’s somewhat fair; daddy adores his daughter, mommy adores her son! It’s all equal! We have entered into post-feminism! Feminism is Dead! Long live Equality!”
Too bad the roles of Princess and King are so very different.
“But they’re both royalty,” you say, “that’s not unfair!”
The mere existence of “Mommy’s Little King” is enough to make my obstreporal lobe threaten to asplode, taking most of my patience with it. It’s like that commercial with the mom who is trapped by her child (son), tied up because “she’s the dragon”. A (male) child at play is shown as having power over the (female) parent.
Consider the parental roles involved in “Mommy’s Little King” and “Daddy’s Little Princess”:
- The mother of the King is: the Queen Mother (a figurehead)
- The father of a princess is: the King (a ruler)
A pretty telling power differential all ’round. My dangerously-escaping point: Kings are to be taken seriously, to be heeded, obeyed. Princesses are, by contrast, passive, decorative, and all the other (negative) things mentioned above. Kings are in a position of power. Princesses are not. Kings have subjects. Princesses have rescuers.
Nothing like starting the lessons at birth that our sons will be in command of their own lives, while our daughters must rely on other people’s sons*** and give up any hope of their own agency.
*It’s true that any baby could be high maintenance; babies are by definition high maintenance. I defy you to find a bib that says that that isn’t pink/purple/flowery/lacy, though, all of which is most definitely associated with “girl”.
** That is, if you’re a troll with a penchant for cheap florid prose.
*** You know: boyfriends, husbands, their own fathers.
Bullshit Femininity/Masculinity Series: [Part I] [Part II]