Among my daughter’s classmates (age 4-5) there are children who have already decided, figured out, or been taught that there is such a thing as gender specific colours – specifically ‘girl colours’
I help out in her class a few times a week. Usually it’s helping with reading, but recently it’s been sewing – the couple of times I’ve done it so far it’s been a mum and I plus a group of boys & girls.
On both occasions, while choosing a colour of thread, boys have said “I like girl colours too.” The first time I was quick off the mark with “There’s no such thing and girls’ colours and boys’ colours, just colours.” The second time, I didn’t even get a chance – the mum I was with was straight in there with the same retort. On this occasion, I was also wearing a pink shirt which nicely backed up the point to them.
While I was saddened that even at this young age they have been indoctrinated into the false notion that some colours are gendered, when I thought about it there was a positive aspect.
Are there gender specific colours?
While these boys had somehow identified certain colours as ‘girl colours’, they still thought it was ok to like them, and to happily tell others that this was the case.
While we parents of other children are minor authority figures compared to their teachers or actual parents, our opinion still carries weight. By us correcting their observation about the notion of ‘girl colours’, we are reinforcing their own instincts – that while some colours have been labelled as girl colours, it’s ok for them as boys to like them too.
This was also taking place in the context of a mixed gender group of children happily sewing, supervised by a man and a woman.
Our constructs around gender and what that means are multi-layered and built up over time. Hopefully these boys, and any other children listening, will take away from this that boys and girls – and men and women – have a lot more in common than perhaps they had been led to believe.
I told my daughter about this incident, and I asked her “What do you think I said to the boy?” “You told them there’s no such thing as boy or girl colours didn’t you daddy.” 🙂