Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The pink plate (aka "kindergarten feminism")

We have a set of plastic plates at our house. They're the same ones that most people in the Western world own, thanks to IKEA selling a set of six for $1.50. In fact, I believe that I already blogged about acquiring these plates about a year ago, and paying like $10 for the set off eBay, so mine weren't exactly the screaming deal everyone else in the world got them for. The set of six comes in a rainbow of colors: dark blue, light blue (aka "cerulean" at our house), yellow, orange, green and pink.

Annie, like most little girls, has been either genetically or culturally programmed to adore the color pink. Her bedroom (I've also blogged about her bedroom), screams little girl, with light pink bubblegum walls above the chair rail, dark pink bubblegum walls beneath, and a pink-striped quilt. There's not much in the room that isn't pink. Pink has been her color.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when she went to art camp and came home in love with the color blue ("blue has so much more variation, Mom").

Now, pink is on the list of things she does not do (like eat vegetables, share willingly with her little brother, or wear socks with seams). I tried giving her the pink plate for lunch the other day, and she got huffy with me. She said, "You always give me the pink plate and I think it's because I'm a girl. It's not fair. You never give the boys the pink plate" (it's true, I don't).

She then told me I was being "sexist" and told me that if I didn't start rotating the plate equally (Bryce, in the other room, yelled in, "I'm not eating off that thing") then I should put it at the bottom of the pile. I told her I'd just let Maren use it. But that idea didn't fly either. "She shouldn't get stuck with the pink plate because she's a girl, either." To think that a month ago I was divvying up the pink plate, bowl, cup, and utensils among Annie and her friends so that each one would have a representative amount of pink in their table service.

I guess my baby girl is growing up. And teaching me to think a little bit more about the ways I model gender identity in my house. Or else she's just being a bratty five-year-old. Either way, I've got to admire her spunk.


chloe elizabeth said...

That is too funny! It is interesting how we automatically do certain things because we are programmed that way. I love it...kindergarten feminism.

sheri said...

Phew! I'm glad my kid isn't near as bright as yours, lol! Also, I took the easy way out...it's all white paper plates for us. :) (you know, the box of 9000 from Costco)

Kermit~the~Frog said...

I have 5 of those sets (plates, bowls, cups). Before they built IKEA in Utah, I'd bribe Hairyshoefairy to bring me some. So cheap, so perfect. Three of our sets are in rotation, with two sets waiting to replace worn-out components.


All three of my kids fight over the pink dishes. Animal is the sexist in the house -- she thinks she should have it because it's a girl color. But Scooter, who has a pink tie, lunchbox and tee shirt, wants his equal share. And Gonzo wants what Scooter wants. Etc. So they fight over the desirable colors (green, pink, dark blue) and scorn the less desirables (orange, yellow, cerulean). I refuse to get involved. It's just a plate!

Love Annie's comments, though. She's a bright one.

Arlynda said...

Funny! We have the same plates and my kids always argue over the pink one, Abby because it is pink and Bailey because it is as close to red as we have. If there is a problem I'll put the plates behind my back and make one kid pick an arm then they get that plate.

chloe elizabeth said...

so...in response to your comment, I have no idea how you could run that through a neighborhood. I would die.

g said...

That is hilarious! She actually *said* "sexist"?! Too funny. We had a dad in our nursery here ask me not to give his son pink play-dough. I had to take the blue play-dough away from my own (apparently lesbian) daughter to give to him. But now we've got our gender identities all straightened out. . .phew!

Lucy said...

The hours I have spent negotiating the colors of IKEA plates. They are of the devil. I would have offered to send you my pink stash (they offend the males around here) but obviously that won't work. Man, I feel sheepishly un-feminist now. Sorry Annie.

Shelah said...

G- she learned about sexism after hearing an NPR spot last month. She wanted to know why there were so many more baby boys than baby girls in China, and so she got a whole education on ultrasound, abortion and sexism. She's been talking about it ever since, and I feel a little bit like I let her watch a rated-R movie or something.

Gabriela said...

too funny! Margarita turned on the color pink a couple of years ago too. She HATES in now. Juan Carlos on the other hand loves pink. It's got Guapo a little concerned. :)

What marathon are you doing?

Shelah said...

It's the New Year's Day Marathon in Kingwood, TX, Gabriela. You won't be in town, will ya?

Blackeyedsue said...

It's gotta be the age. My oldest has declared a state of war against pink. Red is okay, purple will do but pink...pink is the enemy! She is actually sleeping in her new "blue room" right this minute while her unsuspecting little sister is experiencing sexist torture by having to exist in the pink bedroom.

I am a terrible mom. How dare I expose them to pink.

Thank goodness I have one more girl coming that I can push pink on for at least a year when she will finally understand her older sisters and then she too, can rebel against the pink.

I can relate though. I had a mother who imposed pink on me. I hated the color until I had little girls of my own, and surprisingly, I loved pink again. Just save those pink IKEA plates for your Annie until she has a daughter of her own and falls in love with pink again.