I’m not a fairy and I don’t intend to become one. This isn’t new, I wasn’t a fairy when I was five either. Nor was I a princess or a massive pink marshmallow.
Really I should have been Thumbelina’s best mate from what the shops were trying to sell my Mum. I was a child who liked to play with Lego and that Lego didn’t need to be pink.
The thing is more and more people are seeing the damaging ways marketing executives are using gender stereotypes to flog their wares. Boys and girls are boxed in when it comes to buying for them and the way people treat them.
If you’ve taken a stroll down the toy aisle in Debenhams or any shop selling toys you will see what I mean. Doctor’s dress up outfits labeled ‘Boys’, green nurses outfits ‘for girls’. One aisle dedicated to building things, chemistry labs, toy cars. The other aisle has make up, tea sets and kitchenettes.
Boys are aggressive and make things happen whereas girls fritter away their time working on their looks and planning the perfect princess tea party. Surely no parent would tell their daughter that they can only ever be a hairdresser or beautician so why let it happen through the toys you choose?
More people are asking this question and this is in no way a new observation. The press has been a wash with stories on gender stereotyping recently. One charity set up to combat the ‘pinkification’ of girls is Pink Stinks and the founders, Emma and Abi Moore have been everywhere this week, Daybreak, Loose Women and the Independent magazine to name a few. People seem to have realised this is a problem.
So feminism is becoming fashionable. And people are listening to us. Just last week Hamley’s removed their ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ floor labels after blogger Laura Nelson wrote about it. If we carry on like this feminism could go mainstream. Even if it is just Liz Jones from the Daily Fail claiming she’s a feminist in a twisted and ill-informed way it’s something. It’s putting feminism back on the agenda when it was denounced for so long.
I run the feminist society at my university. In the first year we started we shied away from the word ‘feminist’ and used the cop-out name of Bournemouth University Students Against Sexism Society. Since calling ourselves Bournemouth Students’ FEMINIST Society we’ve doubled our membership. Grassroots activism groups have popped out all over the country and organisations like UKFeminista now run summer schools and have regional officers.
It’s not just a fad and it’s not just feminism. My generation is becoming increasingly politically minded. It’s more common now to have a proper chat about the government in the pub rather than who’s going out with who. Politics is catching out of desperation and dissatisfaction. There seems to be some kind of energy to it. At last people are getting het up and angry about things! There’s a socialist worker society and an activist society at Bournemouth University, possibly one of the least political institutions there is. Things are a changing and it’s about bloody time.
Written for The People’s Republic of South Devon.