Thursday, September 13, 2007,2:24 PM
Sippy Cup Exposé

So to combine my mommy blogging and my rants on gender issues, I give you the Sippy Cup Exposé. I was looking at Emma's sippy cups recently and noticed that we had a set of Playtex sippy cups that seriously played into gender stereotypes. The cups are pink and blue. The blue cup displays fish (in a school) undergoing academic pursuits. They are learning the ABC's, looking at a globe, and using a ruler. The pink cup on the other hand has personified teacups, fruit, and flowers. WTF!

I am so sick of being faced with gender specific assumptions when I get anything for Emma. The whole pink and blue thing is everywhere - it's hard to avoid exposing her to the idea that pink=girls and blue=boys. All the clothes are pink and purple covered in flowers, hearts, princesses, or ballet shoes. And now the sippy cups get involved too. So what does it matter that I let her use the blue=academic/intellectual cup? She knows that the pink one is for girls and so sees that girls are associated with tea parties and flowers while boys are associated with learning and school. I'm sure people will say that I'm overreacting and am too sensitive, but I'm just finding it really difficult to avoid imparting to my daughter oppressive gender roles. Does the world really have to promote cultural stereotypes on freaking sippy cups? This gets more annoying everyday...

Labels: , ,

posted by Julie at 2:24 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 9/13/2007 04:20:00 PM, Blogger Jason

    I've been bothered by some of the same things, and my list is getting longer the older my 12 month old daughter gets. I understand companies make what people buy (or what survives best in product testing), so why is it that other consumers don't care about this like we do?

  • At 9/13/2007 04:57:00 PM, Blogger Katherine

    I remember looking at the sippy cups my niece and nephew used (while they were begging me for some juice) and just shaking my head at the stupidity and prevalence of this. Incidentally, my niece Julie much prefers wearing the "boys" bibs that we had bought for Michael because they had her favorite Sesame Street characters on them, and altoether shuns the pink flowery ones meant for her.

    I once randomly came across this quote from the Ladies Home Journal of 1918, where they asserted that "the accepted general rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. Pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." This, and many other reasons, is why I set little stock in what people say "is" or "should be" true of males and females.

  • At 9/13/2007 06:39:00 PM, Anonymous sonja

    Fortunately when I was buying sippy cups they were in primary colors. But (among other things) I could NOT buy a bicycle for my daughter that wasn't pink until she "graduated" to a more or less adult size. Now that she's 13 she completely eschews pink (unless it's paired with black and preferably skulls) and plays ice hockey. She loves to play with the boys so she can check.

    So ... while I agree with you, Julie, I'm also a little hesitant to say that such small things have long term consequences after watching them play out in my daughter's life. My girl now thoroughly rejects the pink/blue dichotomy and wears boys shorts all the time. We shop in the boys department. I think the fact that she drinks out of the blue cup and you are engaging her in learning will speak more into her life than the cartoon characters on a sippy cup in the long run.

  • At 9/13/2007 09:09:00 PM, Blogger Cindy

    i'm with sonya. but, you could also get her a little soccer ball and teach her to kick it everywhere she walks outside. when she's 5 she'll discover the joy of kicking the boys' hineys on the soccer field and all your worries will subside. ;-)

    incidentally, my almost eight year old still loves pink, but rarely wears anything but athletic shorts and t-shirts. her comforter is fuschia and i painted flowers on her blue bedroom walls before she was born (she won't let me paint over them). it all seems to balance out just fine. she does love it when she kicks tail on the soccer field, though.

  • At 9/13/2007 09:19:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    The whole pink/blue think is annoying (and Katherine that quote was great), but it's the idea that boys are smart and girls are domestic that bugs me the most. Why is anyone even subtly promoting ideas like that anymore!

  • At 9/14/2007 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Rev. Dulce

    My 12 year-old girl wouldn't wear pink if I tied her up and forced her into it. She says "it's girly, girly".

    She just got her purple belt in Karate and is a cheerleader. Go figure!

  • At 9/15/2007 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Jen R

    I have a 5 month old daughter, and I've just been appalled at the way pink gets forced on her. I don't mind having *some* pink, but what gets to me is the way that everything is segregated -- you'll have a huge aisle of pink stuff "for girls" and a huge aisle of blue stuff "for boys" and about 3 items that are green or yellow. And yes, pink is always associated with being dainty and pretty and stereotypically girly, and blue is always associated with sports and vehicles and puppies.

    Is it like this in countries that have less anxiety about sex and gender roles than the U.S., I wonder?

    Something about Rev. Dulce's comment bothers me, though. There *shouldn't* be anything wrong with being "girly", because there isn't anything wrong with being a girl! I've struggled my whole life with rejecting "socially accepted roles for girls" (and "girliness" in that sense) without rejecting femininity. I've found myself being proud of having "masculine" characteristics like being good at math and science, and while it's fine to be proud of those characteristics and to be proud of not having been shoved into the "girl box", there's a danger of slipping from there into being proud of "being like a boy/man."

  • At 9/15/2007 03:21:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Jen - I think the biggest danger is when we take activities that really have nothing to do with gender (academics, cooking, sports...) and label them as being masculine or feminine. We stop caring for who people are and start forcing them into molds. Sure there may be some innate gender differences, but liking math isn't one of them. To say a girl is acting like a boy for liking math (or a boy is being girly if he cooks) is not liberating or strong. It is merely rubber-stamping the stereotypes and letting the lies continue.

  • At 9/16/2007 08:42:00 PM, Blogger Jen R

    I agree completely (hence the scare quotes around "masculine").

    My mother-in-law was buying some clothes for my daughter and found this really cute sleep sack, which she almost didn't buy because it's blue and has airplanes on it! She figured it was probably made for boys, but decided that wouldn't bother me. Which it doesn't -- what bothers me is the fact that we've decided that planes are for boys and flowers are for girls in the first place! And then our culture generally places a higher value on what it's put in the "male" pile, which is what leads to the trap that I was talking about in my earlier comment.

    I know you know all this -- just thinking out loud. Being a feminist mom is going to be tricky!


Links to this post:

Create a Link