By Kari S
So what if my husband likes pink?
I cannot tell you how many times I have had polite verbal duels with people about my husband’s taste. It usually starts with a conversation about some one’s taste in furniture, or maybe someone will visit my apartment for the first time, and when I mention my favorite shades and patterns, I am bombarded with questions like, “But how can your husband stand living with so much pink?” and “I bet your husband feels so out of place in that apartment of yours.” Actually, no. My husband is actually more than “ok” about the décor of my apartment, he likes it! When I assure people of this, they keep trying to drill it in me that he is giving me my way, he is thinking of me, he certainly does not prefer lace and flowers and pretty-pink things. Their passion and absolute confidence in this provokes the question: why would it be such a tragedy if my husband likes pink and lace and flowers? Is it because these things are usually considered “feminine?” Also, is it simply NOT POSSIBLE for heterosexual cis-men to like pink? We all learn in this society growing up that pink is for girls and boys can absolutely, never ever like things for girls. Oddly enough, it is appropriate for girls to take part in “boy things” from time to time. Don’t believe me? Just visit your nearest toy store and look at the toys marketed for girls and the toys marketed for boys. On the girls’ toys is almost always a picture of two or more girls playing together. On the boys’ toys, there are usually pictures of boys, but often there is one girl in the picture as well. This conveys the message that girls may wander into the realm of boys, but never vice-versa. We need to observe how destructive and limiting this way of thinking can be to our society, and at the same time recognize that our rules about what men like and what women like are completely imaginary. The easiest way to affirm the latter is to visit a culture that is different from that of the United States. Men in other countries define their masculinity differently. Therefore, what seems “masculine” here, just seems funny or ridiculous to them. Once one can observe these differences, it becomes clear that our rules about gender’s preferences are entirely constructed by our society and nothing else. As for the former, that these ideas of gender are destructive and limiting, just take into account what it really means when someone accuses a man of being too feminine. The underlying message here is that men should not want to be like women, women are not as good as men, and it would be bad to be “womanly” if you are a man. This is destructive to women, of course, but also very limiting. Not only are we limited when we say that men can only like certain things, but we also are eliminating and erasing other genders. Basically, supporting the ideas of gender roles upholds a male-dominant society because it reinforces the idea that men and women are quite different, and men are better. It disappoints me that I am forever explaining my husband’s taste to people who are blinded by a set of completely fake rules. I do not understand what is so difficult to understand about the fact that men do not actually HAVE to prefer manly things, that it is possible to like whatever the heck they think looks good. Sometimes I don’t even try to offer the idea that there are more than two genders, that not everyone is just “man” and “woman” because people can’t even fathom a man liking lace curtains. What is our society so afraid of?
Kari is a recent college graduate, working in corporate America. She’s passionate about feminism and loves to drink coffee.