I watched a news item today about PinkStinks, a campaign which claims to be sticking up for “real role models” by calling for the boycotting of stores that sell pink toys aimed at girls.
These days it’s so easy to pick on one particular business or a single small thing and call for an all-out boycott or ban, without looking at the bigger picture.
While I have no problem with non-violent direct action and campaigning, I really take issue with parents being coerced into avoiding struggling retailers because of a simple colour choice.
Most people know and agree that gender inequality exists (though not all is bad: we should look for and celebrate the healthy differences between male and female), but surely there’s still a place for little girls to dress as princesses and little boys as soldiers?
It’s interesting that the campaign is targeting pink (girls) despite the fact that both sexes are often stereotyped.
Take this paragraph on the campaign’s web site:
We know the ELC is not the only toy retailer involved in this practice but we believe that by styling its stores as centres of learning the company is making our children a promise it has an absolute duty to live up to.
Do you know something? Retailers are not responsible for teaching our children about the world, about respect, equality, sex, relationships, or indeed anything else.
That’s the parents job (backed up by real centres of learning — schools)
The problem with the PinkStinks campaign is that it implies an absolved responsibility by parents to educate their children with their own morals and values, and how to be independent-minded, respectful and a good citizen in the world.
Now, I am not suggesting that those who started this campaign are bad parents, but is this really worth hurting a company for?
Boycott and campaign against those who seriously exploit workers, children and others through their products or working practices, sure, but why target companies — already struggling in a bad economy — who are just trying to make the most of the Christmas season.
I have friends with young, headstrong kids (and I do mean headstrong) with their own serious opinions (aged 4 and 8 – they’re quite a match sometimes) and yet the girl still likes dressing in pretty dresses (sometimes pink, sometimes with angel/fairy wings). If she grows up to be anything like her mum I don’t believe she’s going to be stereotyped.
Maybe not all kids are like that. If you don’t want your kids to wear pink, don’t let them. Bring them up your way, and explain to them your beliefs and morals.
That’s your job.
But don’t try to harm a business for selling things that a large proportion of the population wants to buy.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the “pink” stereotype does tend to continue into adulthood. Just take a look at the range of gadgets, clothes and makeup targeted at women that’s pink.
Hurting British businesses who, on the grand scale of things, have done little (if anything) wrong, will only hurt more people in the long run.
I am certain my viewpoint won’t be popular with many, but I stand by my belief that we have to take a much more holistic view of gender stereotypes rather than picking on one small thing.
Please don’t boycott the Early Learning Centre this Christmas. They’re an excellent retailer and deserve your custom.
Update: Here’s a fantastic article from Lindsey (who left a comment here): Why every little girl should have the right to choose pink