the lip crew on gender neutrality
Pink is for boys and/or girls and blue is for boys and/or girls and colours are just colours, you guys.
“A vivid childhood memory of mine is going shopping for Star Wars pyjamas with my Dad in our local Target. I have always been a huge Star Wars fan, so these pyjamas were a big deal to me. We looked in the girls’ section and the only Star Wars garment I found was a white t-shirt with a purple Princess Leia on it. I remember the purple caption as something along the lines of, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a princess’.
I was disappointed with this as the only option for girls. Princess Leia is an amazing female character; fiercely independent and intelligent, she doesn’t take anyone’s crap, and besides that famous ‘I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you!’ scene, she does her fair share of rescuing her male counterparts too. This shirt did not do Leia justice, and it was not what I wanted. I felt very disappointed, and then Dad suggested we look in the boys’ section. I was mortified at the idea of wearing boy’s clothes, but Dad reminded me that the only difference between boys’ and girls’ clothes was what it says on the tag.
We went to the boys’ section, and we found two different types of Star Wars pyjamas to choose from: one pair had Storm Troopers on them, and the other had Darth Vader on them. Under the encouragement of my amazing and supportive Dad, I picked the Darth Vader pyjamas, and I loved them.
I think the world is ready for gender neutrality beyond the bedding, toy, clothing, and book departments of shops, because Frozen is not just for girls, and Spiderman is not just for boys. Eliminating the completely unnecessary ‘gendering’ in early childhood would have positive flow-on effects later in children’s lives. For instance, girls should grow up not being afraid of cutting all their hair off, and boys should not be afraid to pursue ‘feminine’ avenues such as ballet or nursing.
Not every girl wants to be a princess. Perhaps she wants to be a Jedi.”— Eleanor Danenberg, Writer
“Getting rid of pink and blue distinctions will allow for a whole rainbow of identities to experience similar liberties to pink and blue identities in choosing products and services. Gender neutrality for consumer items is a no brainer. The premise of capitalism is to increase your market and to, more or less, conquer all bank accounts. Marketing just to one sex as opposed to inviting all genders is a bad business move, if you ask me.
However, gender neutrality for public bathrooms and other amenities involving bodily functions is more complex and must be done to ensure to utmost safety for people who may be discriminated against.
We still live in a day and age where rape culture, transphobia, homophobia, and other forms of harassment in public spaces occur with the most casual vitriol. These hateful cultures must be eradicated before gender neutral amenities work at their optimum. I say this because, as a cisgender, straight woman, I would personally be affronted by the prospect of being gawked at or groped in such a generally confined space as a public washroom. (It would be reductive to assert that something to simple as signage is holding creeps back now; the sense of entitlement experienced by most perpetrators is blind to signage.)
Having used a toilet that was marked ‘Ladies / Disabled’, I can attest to feeling a bit shit having to do my business in the ‘other toilet’ in a discernibly masculine space. Gender neutral amenities do need to be an option, but ending harassment in these spaces – and beyond – is mandatory to their success.” – Sarah Iuliano, Features Editor
“Quick history lesson for you: It wasn’t all that long ago that pink and blue didn’t actually hold any gendered connotations; they were, just as they should be now, simply colours, and children wore white-or-similar dresses until they were six or seven years old, irrespective of their sex. (They also wore their hair long, so you know.) This idea began to change in the early 20th century – but not as you might expect. In contrast to the way the western world currently associates the two hues, sometime before the 1920s, pink was deemed to be more appropriate for boys, and blue for girls. Why? Because pink, a derivative of red, was seen as a livelier, more robust colour – just as boys “should be” – and blue was seen as dainty and calming and an all-round “prettier” colour for girls. But according to whom? In 1927, Time magazine published a chart highlighting gender-appropriate colours for girls and boys according to a bunch of leading U.S. department stores at the time. These stores figured that if they offered parents a variety of clothing options for their little cherubs – and classified them according to gender – parents would end up purchasing more from their stores upon having subsequent children of the opposite sex. (You know what that means, right? Ca-ching!)
Then, in the 1940s, clothing manufacturers decided that actually, the retailers had gotten it all wrong, and pink was a much better choice for girls and blue for boys and the idea stuck and here we are. My point? I’m not really sure, but it all smells like one big marketing con to me.” – Jo Mandarano, Editor-in-chief
“For a long time, I thought of gender neutral as somewhere in the middle. It’s not a boy thing, it’s not a girl thing, so it’s got to be between those things, right? But it’s actually not. It’s kind of outside them. And it can take a little while to wrap your head around this, but I think once you do, it can be really beneficial, especially as a parent.
Personally, I think I really benefited from never being pigeonholed by the toys my parents bought for me. My mum copped some criticism for letting me choose my own toys and my own bedspread, but I still remember my Wiggles bedspread and how much I loved it. I dabbled in Barbies and Baby Born, but I wasn’t that kind of girl. When I went to school, I made friends with all the kids who liked the things I liked, not just the girls or just the boys. A lot of people called me a tomboy, but really I was just allowed to have a wide range of interests.
Back then there were no gender neutral toys, even in the US Target, but I can’t wait to see what happens, especially if this initiative is introduced in Australia. Despite gender stereotypes, a lot of little boys want Frozen figurines and a lot of little girls want Tonka trucks. Gender acceptance and exploration starts in childhood and if we can’t even stop gendering kids’ toys, how will children start accepting and exploring the entire spectrum of human gender?” – Cin Peeler, Writer
“When I was younger, I had no interest in Barbies, dolls or anything of the like. I was only five or six, but I still felt the need to like ‘girl’ toys. I remember dressing up my doll and taking her to school, not because I had any interest in it, but just because I thought that was normal.
I identify as cisgender, and gravitate towards typically feminine things. I fit into gender boxes more than others. But even so, I still remembering feeling the pressure as a little girl, and I expect I’m not the only kid that has. The steps that companies like Target are making are definitely in the right direction. I’m shocked that there has been so much negative backlash towards this. Children shouldn’t be embarrassed to want certain toys, nor should they feel pressured to fit into these rigid gender stereotypes. They’re a girl and they like Barbies? Great. But let them decide for themselves.
Those who associate outside the binary in Western society are often met with mockery and repression. The move towards gender neutrality is a necessity in making sure that all people, no matter what they identify with, are safe and respected.” – Eliza Graves-Brown, Writer
“Imagine a world where you don’t know what gender you are until you turn 18. Imagine that everything is gender neutral, nothing is certain. Imagine growing up in this world and being happy that there are no expectations, no discrimination based on gender, and equal opportunities. It sounds like a nice world to me. If I had grown up with this I would be much more comfortable telling my parents now that I’m non-binary. Much more comfortable knowing they would just go along with it, respect it and move on. If everyone knew their gender (or knew they didn’t have one) when they turned 18, none of this would be an issue, and the world might actually be a tiny bit fairer.
I think gender neutrality is important, for lots of reasons. The main reason is purely for equality. Then comes things like ending discrimination, normativity and breaking binaries. If society simply didn’t care what gender (or not) people are, then we wouldn’t see such an uproar about Target not gendering their toy sections anymore. We wouldn’t be fighting for gender-neutral bathrooms everywhere we go. I wouldn’t even be writing this piece. Yes, there would just be something else people would complain about and try to change. But maybe it wouldn’t be quite as big an issue as this? Maybe, just maybe, people wouldn’t be quite so scared of discriminatory reactions if they differed from the cis-normativity we see in society, if we didn’t have to fight for this every single day.” – Tiana Osborne, Writer