Simon Ragoonanan - Man vs Pink photo

It’s an honour to welcome of my favourite Daddy Bloggers, self-defined geek/ former TV Producer and Stay-At-Home Dad Simon of Man Vs Pink to share his thoughts on why he blogs about gendered marketing for kids and adults.

I’ve been a parent since 2012, and a parent blogger since 2014. I used to be a TV producer (and occasionally I still am), but I’ve mostly been a stay-at-home dad since my daughter was 6 months old, after my wife returned to work.

For years I had harboured the notion of staying home with my child. I knew it was a choice the majority of dads didn’t make, but that didn’t bother me. I’m used to being an outsider, whether it’s being child of immigrants, brown skinned, or being into superhero comics!

Blogging was a way to re-engage the part of my brain that had been a content creator. In TV I used to write presenter scripts, as well as fact sheets and programme summaries, on a daily basis. I had also began overseeing social media aspects of the programming I worked on.

As an at-home dad, I was surprised at just how much the culture around parenting was focused on mothers at the expense of fathers, whether in support groups, commerce, in wider society in general – and digs at us dads on some mum blogs too (though most are very welcoming and supportive). I began reading dad blogs for an insight into their experiences, so when I thought I could add something to that pool of online writing I did.

But for the most part, Man vs. Pink was born out my frustration at the sexism of gender assumptions towards girls.

Before having a daughter, I’ll admit I thought that a girl’s interest in princesses and pink was simply because that’s just what girls naturally like. I questioned this when I became a father, especially after reading Peggy Ornstein’s book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, which lays out the marketing forces behind what is and isn’t targeted to girls, and how that may affect future aspirations.

I was keen to offer my daughter a range of alternatives as equally valid options for a girl. Again, I found a wealth of anecdotal observations about this from reading various blogs so I had a lot to get off my chest. Prior to blogging I would often vent on my personal Facebook & Twitter accounts. So to stop my feeds being constantly swamped by my feelings on this stuff, I started a blog – and Man vs. Pink was born.

I can’t remember the exact thought process of why I choose the blog name, other than possible influence from Man vs. Wild, Man vs. Food, etc. But the ‘Pink’ isn’t about the colour so much as the way it is used to label products for girls and women.

I’m pretty open about the fact that I don’t like ‘princesses’. While some may talk up the feminist merits of some individual characters, on the whole I see their appeal as based on appearance and the regal status gained from virus of birth or marriage, so I don’t understand why we should encourage our girls to look up to them as role models.

But princesses aren’t banned in our house – they’re simply not encouraged. I’ve also introduced the likes of Star Wars, superheroes, Studio Ghibli movies, and Lottie dolls, as viable alternatives to Disney, Hello Kitty, Barbie, and more.

I’m now in my now second year blogging, and I have changed tack a little. Having spent the first year mostly venting, I realised I could carry on the same way, or show more of the positives about how my daughter is engaging with clothes, colours, media, and toys not traditionally aimed at girls.

This has also seen me successfully reaching out to brands, as well as them finding me, including ones I had previously pulled up for their divisive ways.

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10 Responses

  1. Mama and More aka Zaz

    It’s fascinating and more than a little bit scary to see the way that genders are marketed to, and stereotypes re-enforced. I think that having a voice such as Simon’s emphasises that feminism has moved beyond its previous encarnation and is about equality, and that men as well as women want equality for both sexes, and especially for our children. Great post, I’ll be sending Simon’s blog to my husband to read and have a read myself!

    Reply
  2. Babes about Town

    Very interesting post. I relate to Simon a lot as a brown-skinned content creator who’s into superheroes… 😉 And I love his take on gender stereotypes and the fact that he’s no longer venting but trying to focus on more of the positives around raising girls in a ‘non-pink’ way. It’s always great to hear the dad’s perspective on this parenting lark, thanks for sharing, love this! x

    Reply
  3. The DADventurer (Dave)

    Good post and interesting to hear a bit more about how Simon got to this point. I’m a big fan of the work he does to highlight issues like this – I can’t think of many other dad bloggers who believe in and fight for a cause like he does. As a SAHD to a daughter myself (albeit younger), I too get annoyed with blatant gender stereotyping of products etc, but the fact he has made a stand is pretty awesome.

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      He’s amazing huh and I agree, I feel the same way about my son (as well as on behalf of girls and future women) that they are so limited with toys, content and clothes. It’s our responsibility to create change and offer them many ways of being! Thanks Dave.

      Reply
  4. Roberta

    This means sharing understanding of diversity without prejudice purely based on personal ‘attitudes’. the freedom to follow your heart – thank you to Simon who has expressed this in such honest way and thank you to Vicki for sharing this with us. From a not very girlie mum in need of girlie times as living with 3 boys (dad and two sons! lol… love them to bits !!!)

    Reply
  5. Ebabee

    Love this post from Simon and this series. I think there are some girls that are naturally more girly than others, but it should be a choice, not an expectation. I wholeheartedly agree that girls should be exposed to all kinds of things (way beyond princesses) and let them see what they are drawn to. I look forward to checking out Simon’s blog.

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Totally agree Nomita, I was a naturally girlie girl and to a mother that wasn’t at all but it’s being exposed to everything that is crucial as you say. Simon is a super blogger, real honour to share his work here. Thanks x

      Reply
  6. John Adams

    Great post from Simon and I’ve watched his blogging and change of tack with interest (went through a similar process myself!). As a stay at home dad of girls I am also wary of the gender issues Simon talks of. Nothing is ever off limits though, simply not encouraged. Another awesome #whosethedaddy. Great series Vicki.

    Reply

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