Thursday, 18 February 2010

Selling my soul to the pink/blue orthodoxy

Another post at the F-Word on what Philippa Willitts calls "the widening chasm between girls and boys' things", as exemplified in particular by the dominance of blue for boys and pink for girls. No matter how trivial this seems to some, I find this incredibly worrying, not least because the orthodoxy is so powerful even those who don't believe in it feel they have to promote it.

I work in education. A few years ago I was at a conference during which technology for girls was being pushed - pink websites, online activities based on shopping and make-up, that kind of thing. I commented to a colleague that I found it sad that the very stereotypes which limit girls' aspirations are being perpetuated in supposed attempts to counteract them. She looked at me like I'd said something utterly insane. I haven't said anything like that since.

Several years on, I've sat in meetings where people have raved about educational materials which are "really motivational for boys because they use logic", and taken the suggestion that boys can't necessarily respect female teachers as an immutable fact. I offer no dissent. I've never said this kind of thing myself yet but perhaps, one day, if I feel it necessary, I will. Lots of teachers don't believe its true, lots of educational resource providers don't believe its true, but we all play along with it because we're not sure when and where we're allowed to disagree, and we're told, from the Government downwards, that it's the latest "research" and who are we to question it, anyhow (only women and men and boys and girls who aren't what you say we are). So it's only a matter of time, providing I play the game well enough, before I present the latest pink website to the latest set of victims. Oh well. At least I can spend my earnings on Barbies for my sons.

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