Raising a daughter
Scott Rankin 29/3/2014
Raising a daughter you might think is the same journey as raising a son.
Yet raising a daughter is fraught with perils that are brought forth in such proliferation that you spin about in blinking disbelief.
Could it be that, as so many people espouse, boys and girls are fundamentally different species.
Is it a safety net we wrap around our daughters, keeping them from the myriad of dangers that their gender alone must face.
Marketing is a wickedness when raising a daughter. It would love to have a crisp and clear distillation of gender; distortion until it is refined as clear purchase division, colour coded in pink and blue.
I push back against the sea of pink that threatens to remove all other colours from her world.
Pink has a value beyond its hue.
Pink is passive.
Pink is beautiful princesses – which all good girls should aspire to be.
Pink beads around wrists and hair ties.
Pink clothes, pink nails, pink bikes, pink blocks.
Pink limits what my daughter can do.
I stand in the toy store, searching shelves desperately, beyond real hope that in our age of enlightened thought something would have changed.
It has of course, but for the worst.
Pink is a chain, a wall, a barrier. It says these toys are not for you. This clothing is not for you. It is for active children. Children who climb and run and shout. These are not attributes we wish for you.
Be calm, learn to sit, talk, play quietly.
No these toys are clearly labelled – can you not see that they are pink – pink is not the colour of action and only boys may play actively.
I leave the store without a toy; no dolls, bracelet makers, colouring-in books or make-over kits accompany me. I leave the store with a disquiet that percolates within me. I leave the store knowing that raising a daughter is hard.
And it is nothing that my daughter has done. Nothing that she has asked for. In our desperation to label and define we forgot we were talking about a human with her own aspirations and dreams.
I rejected pink.
And I wonder when pink will return, unwelcome and uninvited.
All our friends confirm that pink is girls’ favourite colour. It magically happens they say.
Take a close look at what the world is telling our daughters – there is little magic there I say.
I found a toy in the end.
It was a gift beyond any price.
It was a gift from the heart.
I found her a patch of dirt.
I added water.
I gave her mud.
She loves her mud. She immerses herself in it until daughter and mud blend into one. Her twin brother joins her, keen as ever to swap clothes for mire,
Mud make-up kit for all.
Her older brother joins her too. He crafts mud cakes that are hurtled at the wall. Then he teaches her how to scoop up the muck into balanced missiles and join in the assault.
They play, uncaring about anything, but mud.
Yet society would say there is no way she can know what mud to play with – it lacks the pink and blue division that protects her from dreaded gender confusion.
As I sit and watch the marsh monsters frolicking under Autumn’s sun I muse. Next Christmas someone is bound to gift her a pink bucket and spade set to assist in her muddy play.