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Happy Pink Father’s Day!

June 16, 2011 – 9:18 PM







By Laura Pappano

This is my son’s favorite sweatshirt – from when he was 3. My sister made it for his pink-Red Sox-guitar-themed birthday.

Now he’s 12. He doesn’t wear much pink, but neither does he avoid it. He grabbed a pink towel the other day to go swimming.

So why do I avoid filling up one of the pink water bottles as he heads for a soccer game?

It’s not that he will object; it’s that I am aware that guy-world is not – yet – really safe for pink. As a top scorer, kids get in his face, use the F-word and harass him. He recently told one non-stop trash-talker that Moammar Gadhafi wanted his personality back (I said he was 12, right?).

On the cusp of Father’s Day – once depicted on calendars by neckties, pipes, and golf clubs – we are having new conversations about being male in our society. A New York Times story described a more forward-thinking approach to parenting children who want to wear and play with what they want to play with. USA Today captured second-family Dads digging into parenting with less rigid gender roles.

Stereotypes, like my quiet pink avoidance, however, persist.  News that college athletics departments are spending more despite budget cuts elsewhere only amplifies the fact that football and basketball increasingly take center stage in a college’s brand identification. This does nothing to reverse gender inequalities on or off the field (or in our children’s lives).

Over years of writing and talking about this issue, though, I am struck by a recurring experience:  I cannot anymore count how many dads have stepped up to tell me about their daughters. Hockey players, go-cart racers, basketball stars, Little League pitchers. They are proud, even boastful.

Institutions – none more than organized sports — preserve an antiquated hierarchy of male privilege and power (and, of course, gender roles). But more Dads (and maybe boys who don’t get wigged out about pink) offer a fresh perspective.

There is a new way of being male. These men and boys see things differently. They aren’t loud, but neither are they afraid. It’s time we listened — and gave them credit.

  1. One Response to “Happy Pink Father’s Day!”

  2. I love this! We always say in our house: “Colors are not boy or girl; they are just colors.” My son recently purchased girlish sunglasses because the boy ones weren’t “big” enough. Granted, I think he wanted to look like Tao Cruz, but he is making a fashion statement! Kudos to Dads who are breaking down gender stereotypes. Especially in allowing their sons, and daughters, to be sensitive and caring!

    By Katie Culver on Jun 21, 2011

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