For the first time since I started this blog, I'm going to recycle an old post. I wrote "Pink and Blue" because I got tired of answering the same question over and over and over. Apparently, just writing a book doesn't effect an immediate mind meld between author and reader. Who knew?
I do hope more people do read the book; more and more libraries have it, and as academic tomes go, it's pretty cheap. It's not just about pink and blue. That's just one chapter. Want to know when pink became girly? Here's the short version, originally posted 1/3/2012.
Now that I am about a month away from submitting the full draft of my next book to Indiana University Press, this blog is getting a long-overdue re-naming. When it was just a wee blogettekin, it was all about kids clothing, because that's was "Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America" was all about. But regular readers have no doubt noticed that about two years ago the grown-ups started moving into the spotlight. I will be making other changes on the site later, but this new name kind of says what my research has been about all along.
I study gender and appearance, and not just for kids. Stick with me and enjoy!
I can't decide which was more fun: doing the interview or seeing the "Fast Draw" segment created by Mitch Butler and Josh Landis. My only regret: not smiling more. (I am really not that serious!)
It's sale (some of) you have been waiting for! Indiana University Press is offering 40% off the titles in their online catalog -- including Pink and Blue. The sale runs only from 9/10-12; use the link on this page and enter the sale code "SCHOOL" at checkout.
And for those who have been waiting for a paperback version, you can now pre-order that edition as well.
Great baby shower gift for the history nerds in your life!
I am nearly finished with the proposal for the next book, on unisex trends from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. Thanks to the fashion cycle and “That Seventies Show”, the superficial outlines of these trends are fairly familiar to the general public. As usual, my intent is to reveal how complicated the movement was (and I chose that word intentionally.).
The unisex movement – which includes female firefighters, Roosevelt Greer’s needlepoint and “Free to be…You and me” -- was a reaction to the restrictions of rigid concepts of sex and gender roles. Unisex clothing was a manifestation of the multitude of possible alternatives to gender binaries in everyday life. To reduce the unisex era to long hair vs. short hair, skirts vs. pants and yes, pink vs. blue is to perpetuate that binary and ignore the real creative pressure for alternatives that emerged during this period.
But what alternatives were posed, and why? For the most part, unisex meant more masculine clothing for girls and women. Attempts to feminize men's appearance turned out to be short-lived, not permanent changes. The underlying argument in favor of rejecting gender binaries turns out to have been another binary: a forced decision between gender identities being a product of nature or nurture. For a while, the "nurture" side was winning. Gender roles were perceived to be socially constructed, learned patterns of behavior and therefore subject to review and revision. Unisex fashions were one front in the culture wars of the late 60s and 70s -- a war between people who believed that biology is destiny and those who believed that human agency could override DNA.
The working title is “Sex and Unisex: The Unfinished Business of the 1970s”. Because it’s clear to me from today’s culture wars that the sexual revolution is turning out to be more like the 100 Years War.
I am absolutely tickled with this interview published in the University of Maryland alumni magazine. Love, love, love the artwork. Do you think the baby is a boy or a girl? Does it bother you that you can't tell?
This longish (17 minutes +) interview gives a nice overview of the book, beyond the chapter on pink and blue.
Just in time for our book party at our local brewpub. (See EVENTS tab for details). It has been a long time in the making; I hope it answers all those pesky questions...
I am offering a free signed copy to the book mavens at Goodreads. Follow this link to enter. You need to sign up for an account, but if you are a wired reader and of a social networky persuasion, you'll probably like it.
Indiana Unversity Press tells me that "Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America with be available in January. And of course, within a month after publication, all the arguments about gendered clothing will fade and neutral clothing for babies and toddlers will once more be abundant.