There’s something in the zeitgeist. Not only have I and some of my sistahs leveled critiques at the color pink, and all the insidious gender bias it drags with it into the culture of breast cancer awareness, but I’ve come upon many other women objecting publicly these last few weeks about pink in the culture at large. So, I decided to share a few of them, and their eloquent analysis on the subject of the pink peril, here with you.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
First, there is the interview I heard on NPR’s Fresh Air with social historian Stephanie Coontz, who has written a kind of primer on the reemergence of feminism in the 1960s, prompted by her reading and analysis of Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique. You can read about the interview here, as well as check out an excerpt of Coontz’s book, A Strange Stirring. And you can listen to the interview by clicking here. Says Coontz of Friedan’s book, and the research she did on the status of the women who read it when it first came out, “When they read that somehow they weren’t alone [in feeling dissatisfied], it occasioned this release because [the book] said: It’s not because you’re ungrateful, it’s not because you’re unfeminine — the way the Freudian psychologists have been telling you — and it’s not because there’s something particularly wrong with your marriage or your children or anything else in your life — except that you’re a real human being [and] you have a need for meaning in your life, not as an alternative to, but in addition to your personal life, your loves and your family….It’s so easy to look around and complain. But when you actually see, not only how women were treated by society — their legal status — but how they thought of themselves, how low their self-esteem was at all income levels in all racial-ethnic groups, and compare [it] to the self-confidence today that women have, it’s stunning to see how much can be accomplished in just 47 years.”
The next day, Diane Rehm interviewed Peggy Orenstein about here new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Here’s the story link, and here’s the audio interview. From the show link, here’s a summary. “Pink is everywhere today. Walk into any toy store and it is easy to recognize items meant for little girls — sparkly dress-up clothes, tiaras, even pink sports equipment. Some mothers embrace their daughters’ choice to celebrate femininity – especially given their success in the classroom and on the playing field. Others question what princess mania may mean for girls as they become young teens. Still others see the new girlie-girl culture as a product of mass marketing that threatens to consume their daughters. The dark side of pretty and pink: how choices we make for our toddlers can influence their teenage years and beyond.”
To quote Jimmy Buffet, “if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” Besides making us feel better, humor is also a powerful tool for social commentary. Enter Liza Donnelly, a cartoonist who gave a talk at the recent TED Conference for Women, to point out how we can identify what’s wrong with gender stereotypes and laugh at them at the same time. She has published a new book of her cartoon commentary called, When Do They Serve the Wine?, and you can check out the rest of her books here. Below is the video of her TED presentation, from which I have borrowed the drawings in this post.
And finally, this post would not be complete without the latest music video from a woman who took the entire cultural notion of pink and stood its implicit expectations of womanhood on its head. Sometimes literally. She’s possibly the only P!nk I really love. The daughter of a Viet Nam vet, P!nk grew up in a musical household with two loving parents. But, like many of us, she always felt a little different from the rest of the crowd. One of her differences was her enormous musical talent, as well as her impressive athleticism. She has brought both of these abilities to her performances and her songwriting, and has gained the love of legions of fans by spoofing herself and celebrating the wounded underdog in all of us. Here’s her latest song, “F@cking Perfect,” a moving antidote for some of that internalized damage we women all find in ourselves sooner or later.
You might also enjoy reading my previous post from last October, What’s Wrong With Pink.
Please click on the post title or the comment link below to post a response.