This is why we can’t have nice things

I have a baby. He’s of the boy persuasion. I’ve noticed something about baby clothes.

Clothes for boy babies have cars on. Or sometimes dinosaurs.

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From the time they are born, boys are being groomed to be either Jeremy Clarkson, or Ross from friends.

Clothes for girl babies have flowers or animals on.

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Now you can dismiss this as unimportant, and say baby clothes don’t really matter and I should be worrying about benefit cuts and women’s refuges shutting down instead (I worry about those things too, I promise!). But it seems to me that while the car is seen as the key signifier of maleness in our society, so much so that little boys have to be dressed in them from the minute they are born, then we aren’t going to get anywhere with saving the planet.

Cos if cars are the signifier of maleness, then asking someone to use their car less is the equivalent to cutting their dick off. And caring about the planet is a girl thing. And we get these messages from so incredibly young that it’s hard to shift them with facts and logic. So I think baby clothes DO actually matter. And maybe that’s the place we have to start changing things from.

 

 

 

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Comments

  • drdeblogs  On March 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    I completely agree. I had a baby girl first, though I didn’t know her gender in advance, and the midwife was clearly surprised that my “unisex” vests featured pictures of rockets, planets and aliens. Perhaps boys can care for other planets, just not their own?

  • Annabel  On March 2, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    When I was a little girl, I *hated* pink. I didn’t like dolls or babies. I remember being in a shoe store and insisting I wanted the cool grey and black boy’s trainers, not the pink and white girlie trainers. I liked wearing my brother’s hand-me down clothes, Batman pyjamas, cowboy costumes.

    My mum did insist on dressing me in pink A LOT. Girly clothes, cute soft frilly things. I just remember how they really made me feel exposed and incredibly visible. Why was she trying to soften me up? Why was I meant to be all cute and sparkly and sweet? At least boys’ clothing had some fun about it, stuff to do with inventions, cool superheroes, exciting cartoons. Girls’ clothing seemed to be telling me I was meant to be something else than I was. And I just thought I was doing really, really badly at matching the expectations of my girly clothes!

  • D  On March 3, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    my favorite one for boys is pirates…. really… look at what pirates actually did, stealing, murdering, the odd bit of rape… excellent role models.

    D

  • Tom  On March 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    I have to say that I’m disappointed that you deleted my comment. It’s your site obviously, so you’re free to do whatever you like, but it certainly doesn’t help your cause if you don’t accept challenges to your arguments. I wasn’t inflammatory, I didn’t attack you personally, I simply wanted to expose you and your readers to alternative opinions, backed by actual evidence.

    I’d like to think that you’d want to be intellectually honest, that’s why I even bothered to put that much effort into a reply in the first place and also why I still bother to respond. But since my post wasn’t insulting the only reason for not showing it seems to be that you consider it to be dangerous, in which case you put yourself above your own readers in deciding what they are fit to be exposed to. But that’s the opposite of intellectual honesty.

    I might be on the completely wrong track there, but since you chose not to engage my comment in case you disagreed, that’s the logical conclusion I must draw for myself. So you may want to ask yourself if that’s the best approach if you truly want to change the world, if censorship really builds trust or if it couldn’t actually be the exact opposite.
    Of course maybe that’s exactly what you want. I don’t know, you must decide.

    • matriarchalutopia  On March 8, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Tom, thanks for commenting. If I explain a little bit about y life, maybe that will explain why I trashed your comment.

      I have an eight month old baby, and a boyfriend. I want to spend as much time with both of them as possible. I also work (freelance) and I’m the only wage-earner in our household. My boyfriend does the cooking and some of the household chores, but I still do some of them, and the bulk of the household admin. My baby still wakes frequently in the night (about every 2.5 hours in the first part of the night, and then about every hour from 3am onwards.

      From the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to bed at night I am either working, or caring for my child, and I am in a constant state of sleep deprivation.

      This being the case, I get very little time to write or engage on the internet, so I prioritise the things that are most important to me. This does not include having unconstructive arguments with strangers. I checked the comments on my blog very quickly on the dashboard, so I only saw the first line. As the first line of your comment was you taking issue with my use of the word ‘matriarchy’, I judged that you were probably one of the many men with chips on their shoulders who haunt the internet picking fights with women who happen to express their opinions. And I decided I couldn’t be bothered and my life was too short for engaging with it. So I hit ‘trash’ and got on with the two billion things I needed to do that day.

      In regards to your other points, I agree it’s not cool for parents to try to force their kids into a role. However, the point I was hoping to make with my post was not about parents forcing kids into roles, but about the fact that masculinity in our society is defined in a particular way (i.e. cars!) and this gives us some insight into the challenges facing green campaigners.

      You also say that we live in close to my ideal society already, “You can choose whatever path you like for your life.” I am certainly in the lucky position (middle class, educated) of having a lot of options in my life. And certainly, as a woman, far more freedom than my mother or grandmother enjoyed. However, I suggest you see today’s Independent front page, for just a few of the ways that structural inequality still exists for women. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/international-womens-day-2014-the-shocking-statistics-that-show-why-it-is-still-so-important-9177211.html?origin=internalSearch

      I am still likely to earn less than a man with the same skills and background as me. I have a far lower chance of being elected to parliament, becoming a high court judge, becoming director of a company, etc. But I have a much higher chance of being murdered by my partner, raped, or of living in poverty.

      Furthermore, I am very lucky. My grandfather was a miner, my grandmother a servant. But they worked incredibly hard so that my Mum could stay at school and then go on to university and become a teacher. Because of that, I’ve had a far more comfortable life than they did, and far more choices. But there are plenty of women who aren’t so lucky. Who live in poverty, with children depending on them. Who are forced to marry against their will. Who are trapped in violent relationships.

      So no, we don’t live in anything like my utopia.

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