getting flak for pink pants in salon

I like to think that I do not live in a sweet little Swedish bubble, that I keep my head on straight about “real” life in the US.  But then I wrote an essay for Salon on my desire – and struggles – to dress Baby B in pink hand me downs.  I thought I was writing a cute, tongue-in-cheek look at the changing landscape for men and how we need to raise our boys differently in a “flat” world.

But it turns out I tapped into that great seething mass of crazy that often lies just below the  American surface.  In the comments section, I was called a child abuser multiple times, and those were the nicer ones.  The reasonable defenders rang in eventually – one writing, “This is the equivalent of coming after him with torches and pitchforks” – but it still shocked me.

I’m over it now, though I haven’t checked the comments again.  After all, I want to provoke, and the US needs to change.  And here I am a man staying home from work for nine months to raise my son – and then I go and get all involved with pink.  I get that it is threatening.

Still, all that hostility over pink pants (which I don’t even put on him in the essay).


— Update — I just got up the courage to read the comments again and things have taken a nice turn.  I will quote here from a commenter who made several posts and got the point exactly:

The internet is playground for trolls and flame wars…this is known. But this thread sees more than that…a meme about masculinity that isn’t about rescuing trapped animals from pipes, but about a cycle of male-male violence.

We justify making warriors and brutes of men, because there are other warriors and brutes who threaten us. But Our instincts for surival in small bands are contra survival for global industrial civilizations.

Anyway, here is the top of my essay:

The pants mock me. I usually keep this pair hidden — underneath my 18-month-old son’s jeans and sweats, under the hand-me-down khakis with the embroidered hearts on the butt. But today the pants, those pink pants with the flowers, lie exposed in an empty dresser drawer. The only clean pants. For my boy.

When this happens — and it happens more often than I like — I think about a Gloria Steinem quote a friend posted on Facebook. It read: “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons … but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

Pink is the most loaded color, at least in a child’s world. Once a fierce boy color, pink has for decades now been insidiously marketed and pushed as the epitome of a kind of frilly, marginalizing girlhood. Small-scale boycotts have popped up in England and elsewhere as people finally push back against what the former head of UK’s National Consumer Council calls this “gender apartheid.”

You can finish it here.


2 thoughts on “getting flak for pink pants in salon

  1. Wow….I should not be surprised, you child abuser 😉 !! But I am a little…..ah, the USA. I have been home sick lately and weighing all the pro and cons of here vs. there, and all the beauty of Sweden aside, I miss feeling at home amongst people….. but that ‘ that great seething mass of crazy that often lies just below the American surface’ is sure nice to be far, far away from. I do like living in a bubble across the ocean. I thought you might have lost touch with reality when I saw the blog post title ‘Is USA starting to look a little like Daddyland?’ as I read thta line in my feed I felt a big fat resounding ‘no way! not at all!’ shudder through my system……but I guess you are still in touch. Gender conversations in Sweden and US are happening on very different wave lengths….being a midwife, I have conservative Christian old clients out there on my facebook posting about how to be a subservient wife……it is a different world over there. Sometimes I feel like I live in the future, a dreamland of all I ever hoped the USA could be but likely never will. And sometimes I just want to go back, crazy and all.

  2. Swedelife, I;m a Swede living in California for the past 15 years. When I first moved here I used to tell people it was like living in the future. I was thinking of the diversity and the blending of cultures. It’s funny you should say the same thing about Sweden… Yet at the same time it;s probably how Swedes like to see themselves too. My parents’ generation have always talked about Sweden as being ‘ahead’, as if other countries are bound to be on the same track, only further behind.

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