Imagine: Your friend tells you that she is pregnant and you immediately start asking yourself a million questions. More than likely the first question that comes out of your mouth is "What gender is it?"
Sex is defined as the property or quality by which organisms are classified as female or male on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions. While gender is the sex with which a person identifies. Therefore, sex is a convenient way for physicians to group people together for medical reasons while gender is a more personal choice for an individual.
I've always wondered why so much value is placed on an unborn baby's gender. When you hear the word "blue" more than likely a picture of a baby boy pops into your mind and the same goes for the word "pink" but replaced with a baby girl. But, why is this and how did this come to be? Does assigning color to genders play a larger role in today's ongoing issue of sexism?
According to Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys, up until WWI, clothing for both boys and girls had been gender neutral with both sexes dressing in white nightgowns from birth until the age of six. However, due to mass marketing after the war, it became normal for boys to wear pink (as it was a "stronger" color being related to the color red) and for girls to wear blue (because it was considered a more delicate color); this concept is entirely opposite our beliefs today. Finally, in the 1940s, retailers and manufacturers decided that they would designate colors for each gender; pink for girls and blue for boys. Then in the '70s, along with sexual freedom, came more "gender-neutral" clothing. The logic behind this was that nurture not nature prevailed; if little girls were dressed in more masculine clothing, then they would grow up expecting more out of life, just like men. In 1985, these ideals were reverted once again to the traditional colors of pink and blue most likely because of the introduction of prenatal care. Now parents could know beforehand what gender to shop for, much to the delight of the retail and merchandising world. Even feminists from the '70s jumped on board, they believed that if a girl wanted to go into a masculine profession, there was nothing wrong with her wearing pink.
Because of the rise of consumerism directed towards children, there has been a decline in gender neutral products sold for them. It's very rare to see baby clothes in any color besides blue or pink. Do these colors effect how the child turns out, just as feminists in the '70s thought? As of right now, there is still research being done on this subject but I would like to offer my opinion.
The definition of color isColor has nothing to do with gender or how one should act within their gender. In fact, like the feminists from the '70s, I believe that it does play a powerful role in setting limits for gender in our society.
However, I don't think it's right. Specifying colors for genders was a success for consumerism and, for attempts to diminish sexism, a fail. Pink is now known as a "sissy" color, whereas it was once known as a "powerful" color. Blue, given to boys because it represented the color of soldiers' military uniforms, is now seen as masculine as opposed to delicate.If I were to wear pink, society will probably identify me as female and expect me to carry out female-specific duties.
There must be a way to eradicate the terms and definitions given to these colors so that we can truly just see them as they are: colors. Calling someone who's wearing pink a "girl" is completely thoughtless and ignorant. Any reason as to why a person should be considered anything more or less than what they identify as because a phenomenon of light tells them so is completely superficial. Expunging this concept of color and gender connecting is one of the many steps we must take as a society to end centuries of sexism. In the mean time, if your your friend tells you she's pregnant, make sure not to ask for the gender because it doesn't really matter. What matters is not allowing a color to shape the future of an unborn child.