“It’s not that these colors are actually masculine or feminine…. The CIL paint campaign is a great example of how our collective investment in understanding gender and gender differences as natural and timeless is often casually presented in ways that reinforce our belief in that fiction.”
By Tristan Bridges and Peter Rydzewski*
Colors are one way that the gender of different spaces can be communicated. Pink and blue are the most identifiable, and recent research shows that men do seem to prefer blue (though, so do women). Men’s aversion from pink, however, is stronger than women’s (though it’s also true that pink can be framed as masculine for select groups of men). While this can feel timeless, like most aspects of gender, it hasn’t always been around. And even when we began assigning gender to colors, pink was not always associated with girls.
Jo B. Paoletti’s incredible history of children’s fashion in America—Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America—is a beautifully written and carefully researched examination this strange issue. Prior to the 1900s, children in America were dressed in ways that illustrated their age rather than gender (and…
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