Last Christmas, while preparing for a family gathering, I continued the long and arduous process of ensuring every child in my extended family is raised exactly the way I was: surrounded by an inexhaustible supply of Legos.
The children had aged a lot since I first began my endeavor to…
The “pink gears” theory of improving female-targeted products touches on a lot of things with which I’ve been struggling. I’m reblogging Kazerad’s post as a link instead of inline because it’s huge, but I highly recommend checking it out. Kazerad is a skilled and insightful writer, plus, you know, it helps to know what exactly got me going on all this.
With that out of the way:
I’ve long struggled with gender stuff, because I’m a guy, but I’m not a guy.
I don’t mean that I’m trans, or genderqueer, or anything like that, because I’m not (or at least I don’t think I am.) I think I’m a cisgendered male. I’m pretty happy with my beard and my penis and all that, certain fantasy-only RP scenes and fetishes aside.
I mean it more in the sense that, well, there’s a lot of cultural associations and stereotypes attached to “being a guy,” and those are where I run into trouble. Guys are the big strong tough warriors and … well, you know how the image goes.
To me, that kind of person is about the most repellant thing in the universe. Not only is it gross, it is also personally intimidating to me due to negative associations. I mean, I already hated typical manly men anyway, but then I ended up getting a job working for one, and he is a blunt, rude, vulgar, tyrannical bully who has made my life miserable ever since. Now I hate guys even more.
So, I embraced the other side.
Here’s where I get into trouble. I sometimes have trouble explaining what it means to be “girly” in an age where gender roles are increasingly questioned (as well they’ve should be!) I don’t even 100% understand it myself, sometimes. I do know I’ve been banned from websites for trying to ask, because I have so little clue what I’m talking about that I botch the explanation and the attempted post ends up looking clunky, embarrassing, and offensive. I’m trying, but when the subject matter is so touchy and I’m so clumsy that even asking wrong is a crime, it’s a bit hard to get answers sometimes.
The best I’ve been able to come up with on my own is that there should probably be a separation between the interests/personality side of what people are into and their genders. Right now, the two are so intertwined that there aren’t even words for the interest side that aren’t gendered.
Seriously, what do you call someone who’s domestic and submissive, who likes the laces and ribbons and anything that comes in pink, who owns and unironically enjoys things like those ridiculous Bic For Her pens and Hannah Montana PSPs and the like? (Which I actually do, I own those, because those really and truly are my thing.) What do you call someone who owns this watch?
(I used to wear that thing every day, until the nickel in the band started giving me horrible rashes. I still have it sitting in a drawer, and I still miss it and wish I could wear it. Find me a way to protect my skin from that thing and I would put it on again right now.)
What words are there for any of that stuff, other than “effeminate” or “girly”? See, even according to the English language itself, those are female interests. By contrast, that Duke Nukem picture is manly.
I think there needs to be a way to disassociate pink shit and blue shit from girls and boys. As it stands, I’m a guy who is so strongly into such a high level of pink shit that, because we do still attach gender to that, I worry about accidentally offending someone just because I unironically like something that actual women find demeaning and offensive. (Again, I have Bic For Her pens.)
There’s another problem I run into, though. It is tied with the first problem, and it is the other major reason it is such a struggle to figure my own tastes out sometimes. It also brings us back to what Kazerad’s post addressed, and it is the entire reason I felt like this post was an appropriate place to detour into my gender identity and interests.
You see, a lot of pink shit is really terrible.
Go back to the boys’ and girls’ Legos mentioned and shown in Kazerad’s post. Your first reaction should be outrage and offense that they would try to separate the two genders, as if girls aren’t allowed to have boys’ Legos. But then, if you look deeper than that … well, I don’t know about you, but my second thought is that those girls’ Legos are awful. The boys’ Legos are, you know, Legos, the ones we all know and love, whereas the girls’ ones are these weird simplified things with limited building options and weirdly proportioned and sized person figures that are about as jarringly different next to “real” Legos as Duplos are. They just don’t work, it’s an un-fun and offensive mess, and I say this as someone who likes collecting pink shit. Yes, I’m girly and I’m into being treated like a girl, but not a four-year-old girl.
(On a similar note, since that reminds me: I don’t like Hannah Montana, either. I got the Hannah Montana PSP bundle because it was the only way to get the PSP in that color. And, okay, the stickers are nice, too. But still. It’s not like you actually have to play the Hannah Montana UMDs they threw in.)
Meanwhile, mechanical engineering is another area that’s treated as such a guy thing that I’ve become averse to it because of the guy association. I actually have a rather embarrassing story about this: one time, budgiebin needed me to disassemble my 3DS as far down as getting the battery out so she could see what was behind it for a project she was working on. I … did not handle the request well. In retrospect, she was right, and it was a perfectly mundane thing to do (it’s no more a big deal than changing the battery in anything else, except that the battery lid is screwed on), and I am sorry and ashamed in retrospect for how I acted at the time, but … well, I flipped out. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to take apart a 3DS—hell, Budgie was right there trying to explain it to me in real time. It was that I didn’t want to know. It was like a Congressional Republican being placed in a room where people were teaching science. It was blasphemous, unclean knowledge that threatened to … I don’t know, turn me into some sort of guy if I didn’t fight back.
Yeah, it was overblown and silly. I really should not have reacted like that. I know I shouldn’t have. And I’m sorry. But still, that just goes to show how strong the association was, I guess.
Kazerad’s idea would solve both these problems, I think. The pink shit crowd would have something awesome and not terrible, and it would promote mechanical engineering in a way that actually appeals to them. I wouldn’t be disappointed at the girl Legos having to suck, nor would I have to worry about being subjected to something manly against my will. The idea of promoting beautiful intricate clockwork instead of rugged powerful muscle cars or whatever is perfect, and the animals are cute and appealing. I would buy the whole set. Hell, he had me at “pink gears.” So, I can definitely confirm his theory that people would buy this, or at least that I would.