This originally appeared on The Princess Free Zone. Republished here with permission.
When Michele Yulo expressed her frustration that all of the clothes for baby girls were pink and flowery, someone told her, “Girls like pink. Get the f-ck over it.”
Why is it that there are those who feel the need to be hateful, mean-spirited, or demeaning to others in order to express an opinion?
I’ve been in this blogging game for a while now and am no stranger to the random comment from a troll or person who prefers to make their point by being rude. And yet, shockingly, I am still affected by the coarseness of uncivil discourse.
It’s not like it happens every day, but when it does, my stomach becomes a cauldron of doubt and I usually look back at whatever it was I wrote and think, “Was it something I said?” Then I get really, really angry and usually read aloud the comment to my husband with a “can you believe what this person wrote?” before going in to try and bring the conversation back to a nice place.
Here’s one of my recent FB posts that inspired such a comment:
I was at an outdoor arts and crafts festival. I was looking for something for a friend of mine’s daughter who is 10 months and stopped at this really cute booth that did tie dye tees. When I told them who it was for, they pointed me to the girls side, which was, of course, where everything was pink and flowers. I said, “No thanks, I think I’ll get her the fun goldfish.” [which was on the boys side]
Along with the post was a picture of the onesie I actually purchased:
Now, I wasn’t trying to incite any kind of angry debate by posting this and honestly thought it was pretty tame compared to some others. I was simply making the point that this goldfish onesie shouldn’t be relegated to the “boys’ side.” The fact that it’s not pink is what placed it in the male domain and unless someone makes it a point to take off the gender blinders, some little girl will always end up wearing a tee with a cupcake, flower, or butterfly. God forbid they wear blue or like sea creatures!
While most of the commenters on the thread seemed to understand and agree with the message that children should be exposed to all colors among other things, there was one who took a different stance. Here’s what she said: “Girls like pink. Get the f-ck over it.” Only she didn’t use a dash in place of the “u.”
I find myself scratching my head often in moments like this. Did this person simply “like” my page so they could insert their nastiness whenever the moment strikes? Or, as another person commented, “I simply do not understand when people like Facebook pages with a clear mission that they disagree with. Why join the page? Is this just a way to spew anger?”
Perhaps. And what was it I said to provoke such a response? Was I offensive in tone or language? Did I say something akin to an attack by implying that girls deserve to know that they do not have to like pink, desire to be a princess, or even want to be pretty? The same goes for boys who should be able to like butterflies, stars, and even the color pink. My intention is not take away from the girlhood experience, but to add to it.
I have to admit that this person’s need to tell me to “get the f-ck over it” doesn’t bother me as much as her matter-of-fact belief that “girls like pink.” This is what I can’t “get the f-ck over” if I’m being honest.
The idea that some people really and truly believe that girls and boys are prewired to have an affinity toward specific colors boggles my mind (perhaps if amniotic fluid were pink or blue based on the sex of the baby I might think differently), but it also shows just how entrenched in the mindset gender stereotypes actually are, and that…guess what? They work!
Fortunately, knowing this makes me want to work that much harder to eliminate them so, for that, I guess I should be thanking this person.
Of course I realize and accept that not everyone will always agree with me, and this particular comment was benign compared to some I’ve received. I know it comes with the territory of expressing oneself in a very public arena—one that can often be as brutal as the crowd in a Roman gladiator fight.
That doesn’t mean I understand or condone it. I will still always try my best to maintain my composure and some decorum while attempting to lead a rational and intelligent discussion. But my main concern is for children and how they are being boxed into gender corners that can be very difficult to get out of, and I will happily fight for that every day. Even in the face of someone who tells me to “get the f-ck over it.”
Michele Yulo is the founder of Princess Free Zone, Inc., a brand and blog that offers an alternative to all things princess for little girls by addressing issues of gender and gender stereotyping. She is also the author of the children’s book “Super Tool Lula: The Bully-fighting Super Hero.” She has a master’s degree in English from Georgia State University and enjoys writing and enlightened discourse. You can visit her website at www.princessfreezone.com, join PFZ on Facebook, Twitter, or email her at michele@princessfreezone.