Thursday, 10 December 2009

Let them wear pink!

I like pink. There, I've said it. I had no idea this would be such a shameful confession, but apparently this makes me:
* a gender stereotype
* likely to suffer from low self-esteem
* unlikely to aspire to a challenging career
What nonsense!

A campaign group are mounting an offensive against the colour pink and the products they feel are enforcing gender stereotyping amongst children.

As publishers, we are regularly discouraged from giving books a pink cover as it halves our market. This doesn't work both ways. Girls will read books aimed at boys, but boys won't touch a book with a bit of pink on the cover. If a book is very specifically aimed at girls and we go with a pink cover, we have to be confident that commercially it can be sustained by female oriented purchasers.

So far books don't seem to be a casualty of the anti-pink tirade. Perhaps this is because the parents involved see them as a more worthy commodity. It seems to be the 'walls of pink' found in toy shops bearing the brunt of the wrath. Of course we don't have this problem in bookshops, due to the way books are merchandised. Until everyone writing for girls changes their surname to begin with 'M' in order to sit on the shelf next to Daisy Meadows, we should continue to achieve a fairly even spread.

But of course one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Funny then that these campaigners should be enforcing the idea that what's on the outside does count. It doesn't seem to me that they're sending out a very positive message to their children by saying: "People won't take you seriously if you wear pink. It's too girly."

Did I miss something? I thought the feminist movement had moved on from this. I thought it was now about empowering women by appreciating our femininity and celebrating all we have to offer the world. I have been labouring under the misconception that we are no longer competing in 'a man's world' by trying to be more like them.

These parents seem most worried about the fact that their daughters will grow up thinking they're only good for 'girly' careers. Someone better tell Darcey Bussell that her drive, determination and hard work have been misplaced. She could have been a doctor, if only her parents hadn't allowed her to flounce about the house in a pink tutu.

The bottom line is, if you don't like it, don't buy it, but please don't insult our intelligence by telling us what we should and should not be buying for the little girls in our lives. My three year-old niece asked me for a pink sparkly dress and pink sparkly shoes for Christmas this year. I do not believe that indulging this request makes me an irresponsible role model, or is encouraging her to conform to any kind of gender stereotyping. As an educated, independent young woman with a successful career, I feel confident that I will inspire and support her to aim high and follow her dreams. Whether she does so wearing pink sequins is, I feel, entirely irrelevant.

Maybe I'll give up the publishing game, turn to politics and go for the top job. If only so that I can paint the door of Number 10 pink when I get there.

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