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.