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I recently read an article about a UK organization called Pink Stinks. If you'd like to check them out, they're hanging on the web at


I very much in principle agree with the aims of their organization. "Pinkification" of girls toys is relatively recent, and creates a very segregationist viewpoint about what boys and girls can do...or can't.

Isis also took up the issue in her blog, at least as it pertains to science.

But there is a part of me that really thinks that this "pinkification" may do some good. I know I may be in the minority here, but let's look at it this way: if someone might consider getting a microscope or telescope for a girl because it's pink rather than a traditional "girl toy" (read: BARBIE) in the absence of a pink microscope or telescope, hasn't something good been done?

How much of the "pinkification" is as a result of adult notions of what a girl versus boy can do? And if a microscope is colored pink (or a baseball mitt or whatever else) means that the adults around that girl will be willing to concede that a girl just might be able to have an interest in science or baseball, hasn't that done a tiny bit of good because the adults around that girl may not be putting the social pressures on her that many of us grew up with? That is, even if it is pink, the girl has still gotten a microscope where she might not have had one before...

Another facet of this is how there are still a lot of bright young girls and women who are concerned about fitting in. A microscope may expose such girls to recrimination because it means they aren't being feminine. But maybe the socialization issue would not be so bad for a girl who is the recipient of a pink microscope because it means that she likes that sort of thing but is still feminine.

I agree the ideal is that people wouldn't be so, well, conservative. Girls can do science just as well as boys, and they can use the same microscopes in my world. But I'm not ready to say this is entirely bad if some girls are exposed to things that close-minded adults may have otherwise overlooked or that they themselves may have rejected based on whether or not they are socially acceptable.

It's a hard line to tread, though, and must be done carefully.

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( 7 Transmissions — Comment )
Dec. 30th, 2009 01:03 am (UTC)
This is a great link, thanks for sharing.

I kinda feel your gripe a bit, but I think a big thing that the site points out is that there aren't pink microscopes. Pink is used to label certain products as FOR GIRLS and those products are all make-up sets and play kitchens. If pink was just a fun color to use for stuff, and girls gravitated to pink, or girls were encouraged to get the pink "version" of things, I don't think there'd be much of an issue. But the toys out there aren't pink versions, they're all very passive role-enforcing toys and it pins girls into little gender role buckets way too young.
Dec. 30th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
There totally are pink microscopes! They are wimpier than the black ones.
Dec. 30th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
... oh, wait, Isis already linked that one. And here I thought I was being clever.
Dec. 30th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, but it was noted that the ad showed the pink microscope being "wimpier" than the other versions (or was it the telescope?), but it turned out that the ad was misleading.

The other side of the whole pink thing, though, is the rejection of anything feminine. I have to admit being rather surprised that Isis took this one up since she's always going after how we should be able to do science and continue to be feminine.

Anyway, there was a woman in one of my engineering classes who was from India. She would often wear brightly colored clothing. One day, she wore a very bright pink blouse, but one of the engineers made some comment about it. He didn't mean it to be offensive or anything, just noted how she tended to dress in much brighter colors (compared to all the men who were wearing either grey or blue). But since then, it has bothered me from both sides of the argument.

For one, there shouldn't be judgement against something just because it's "pink" or "feminine". When I was at Tech, there was discussion of how women are expected to dress and look like men in science in order to succeed. Standing out is bad. I hate that. Rejection of a microscope or telescope because it is pink strikes me as the same thing: if it's pink (or girly) it must be bad/not serious/definitely not science.

And let's face it, there are a lot of groups out there encouraging girls to get into math and science, and they're attempting to do it by showing women scientists/engineers who are also feminine...and their websites are pink (braincake.org), etc.

On the other hand, it bugs me that there are pink microscopes and telescopes because there is nothing wrong with the normal grey or red ones. As a kid, I was just fine playing with primary colored Legos and wasn't all that keen on Barbie. But that's the pragmatic part of me, and I know not a lot of people function that way. Totally embracing this viewpoint means that I might be just guilty of embracing a paradigm that rejects anything feminine.
Dec. 30th, 2009 04:18 pm (UTC)
definitely agree with you there. In fact I'd be all for reclaiming the color pink, and making it so people do associate pink/feminine with science.

I dressed as a fairy princess one year for halloween and wore the costume to my grad school classes and everything, everybody got quite a kick out of it :) then again, there were lots of girls in my class, and most if not all of the class was from southeast asia/middle east. They seem to have a better, more open mind about sciences than America does. I think we really try to pigeonhole what a scientist "should" look like here, you're either a geek or you're not, it's socially acceptable to just declare that you suck at math. I'm not sure India is like that. But I haven't been, so who knows.
Jan. 1st, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
hey Cherish,

I agree about the pink microscopes! Girls should get to be feminine and scientific.

Marisa (ps I don't think you'll remember me but I'm from the homeschooling mensans list, though I haven't posted on there in ages.. and I'm not even a mom or a homeschooler *blush*)
Jan. 2nd, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
Hi, Marisa!

I stopped participating in the list about 3 years ago. I'm no longer homeschooling my older one, but I also don't have time. :-)

Thanks also for posting a link to your blog!
( 7 Transmissions — Comment )

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