Monday, 7 December 2009

Kicking up a stink about pink

The UK is currently embroiled in war, financial depression, soaring crime rates and a general air of corruption in public life. In fact there’s plenty for the politicians to get their teeth into, and that’s before things like failing schools and filthy hospitals have been tackled.

So what would you say might be the most pressing situation for an MP to get involved with? War? Famine? Pestillence? No… pink toys! Yes… that’s right… pink toys. Some humourless gorgon masquerading as an MP has declared war on pink toys for girls.

Bridget Prentice MP, a minister at the Department for Justice, has lent her support to a campaign being run by twin mothers who live in Ms Prentice’s Lewisham constituency. Sisters Emma and Abi Moore have set up a website called Pinkstinks. It’s a campaign and ‘social enterprise’ that challenges the ‘culture of pink’, which invades every area of girls’ lives.

Apparently Pinkstinks will focus on providing real role models who will inspire and motivate girls to achieve great things based on ability and effort and not how they look. Laudable in some ways but totally missing the point by blaming it on pink toys of all things. Pinkstinks is organising a boycott of shops including the Early Learning Centre, which the group claims is leading the “pinkification” of girls' toys which end up crushing female ambitions later in life.

Incidentally, can anyone tell me what a social enterprise is? Could it be a website with not much to sell that exists to grab some headlines, make some cash without the need to sully one’s hands with a business or anything horribly commercial like that?

Ms Prentice threw fuel on the pink bonfire with a few of her own inflammatory remarks: “It’s about not funnelling girls into pretty, pretty jobs, but giving them aspirations and challenging them to fulfil their potential. We want to say to organisations like the Early Learning Centre that we rely on them to be progressive about encouraging girls to think of themselves as equal, and not to reinforce the old stereotypes.”

We live in the age of pressure groups where a couple of people with a computer, a grievance, a spare bedroom and too much time on their hands can set themselves up as if they’re representing a large slice of public opinion. Before you know it they’ll be asking for a grant to spread their lunacy further. I can see it now: pink outreach workers and drop-in centres operating a pink toy amnesty. Before you know it, girls with pink toys will be placed on the local authority's ‘At Risk’ register and the little poppets will be encouraged to denounce and report anyone who buys them a pink toy.

Frankly, it sounds like a damn good idea to me. I’m going to turn this blog into a social enterprise and book my ticket on the pressure group gravy train. With any luck I need never work again.


  1. I'm an Analyst with a pink diary and a pink phone. So there!


  2. Don't you feel crushed and inhibited?

  3. Friends of the earth? Stuffed with self importance,who the hell are they?

  4. I hate pink, always have done, never wanted pink clothes or pink toys. I played with sindy & action man and lego which was not pink - apparently you can even get pink mega-blocks these days. I'm quite glad I have 2 boys so I don't have to buy pink fluffy sparkly things or paint any of my rooms pink.

  5. The Early Learning Centre used to be about providing clever toys that weren't gender-specific. I guess that business model didn't work!

  6. As I commented on this elsewhere:

    Now I don't know much, but instilling the idea in young girls that pink stinks, might not be such a good idea for later in life...

  7. Hi XTM, I don't feel crushed and inhibited in the slightest! One of the reasons I chose pink it that it's easy to find on a cluttered desk - so far from fluffy, I find it very practical.
    My daughter went through a pink stage whereas my son always wanted toy guns (not available at the ELC but the corner shop did a roaring trade in China tat). Some things never change....


  8. I grew up with an older brother. He had action man, I refused a Sindy! I had Action Girl! I was given pink things, I didn't want them. I wanted to play football and climb trees with the boys! LOL!
    I assumed when I had my daughter that she would be like me as well but no! Although she has 2 older brothers and she enjoys playing with toy cars, she prefers her cars to be PINK! She like pretty, frilly, impractical dresses and skirts, trousers with pink flowers on them and so on! Bless her, she has had to put up with her brothers hand me down toys a lot of the time when she woulld rather have PINK things!

    It is nature rather than nurture, in my experience, that dictates how a child plays with things and what things they enjoy. One of my boys enjoyed playing with dolls and prams as a small child. We didn't have any in the house but my friend did.

    THe colour is totally imaterial. As far as I can see, being the parent of both genders, it is what you teach them they can be that determines their dreams and ambitions rather than the colour of their toys.

    I would LOVE a pink phone but have to make do with a very discreet pink sticker on my car!

  9. I'm very fond of pink as a colour, but I do find it is difficult to buy anything for a little girl that isn't a vile shade of electric pinkypink. It's just tough luck if you're a redhead. And for us grown-up girlies there seems to be a choice between black studded rubber and pinkybling, both equally vile in my view.

    But that's no excuse for the neopuritan interferers. I particularly agree about the pressure group gravy train; I call them fake charities when I'm in a good mood and parasites on the body politic the rest of the time. I have no doubt that they provide an excellent substitute for real work for many women.

    Hope the leg continues to improve, I love the blog, many thanks for brightening my life.

  10. Morning ETM

    Well, sitting at my desk - haven't anything pink apart from the telephone message pad which doesn't count - so now I am sulking!

    Perhaps I shall find something pink for lunch!

    Hope all is well with you and the leg today.

    Regards, Cats' Mother

  11. hmm only pink thing bout me the day is my tongue !! and i am all WOMAN lol

  12. I'm a female engineer with a pink pen & pink post it notes!!

    Who do I report this too?
    Should I put myself on the 'Under achievers at risk register!!'

  13. opps better take the pink slippers i bought for my friends (girl) xmas ...shes a Plumber by the way

  14. The idea of Pink Stinks is not to BAN pink, but to try and ensure there is a choice for those who would like to have one. Why is this a problem?

  15. Pink all the way for me XTM, if there is a choice for me pink shall always win, my DH sleeps on pink frilly pillows and he is all Man ;)

    Hope the leg is continuing to heal


  16. I hate pink. I always thought it was because my mother insisted in dressing me in as she'd had only four sons till I came along. I was like some of the commenters above who preferred trousers and boy's stuff. My neices all loved pink stuff. They've grown into awesome self-confident adults. I would like to see more variety available for girls but there is obviously a bigger market for pink stuff.

    It would seem a bit patronising to women to suggest that their career aspirations and sense of self are determined by the colour of their toys. The issues are far more complex and I don't lose sleep of the colour anyone's toys.

    So what social enterprise are you going to go for? We want a cheery campaign but of course something that will attract enough of those with nothing better to do...

  17. Fact: 100 years ago pink was for boys and blue for girls!
    WTF does it matter? Superficial and pointless nonsense from the PC brigade.

  18. Have this 'do gooders' group not seen "Legally Blonde" about PINK!
    I had a daughter after 3 boys and I'm not keen on them but my daughter liked frilly dresses, and she'd deck you if you said anything about them. She is 20 now and still likes girly stuff and she is my athletic one. Not too keen on pink though, that is my favourite colour though I never really wore it or had anything pink until I was 31 (and pregnant with the daughter...hmmm I wonder).
    I do agree with there needing more variety though, there is always a limit to how much a person can take.

    There should be a group that champions boys not to be aligned with the devil or being bad. I never bought skates for my wee boys because the only ones I could find in their size were called and labeled "Lil' Devil" while the girl's were "Lil' Angel" Discrimination or what! (Can't find those horrid skates now thankfully).

  19. Yes, the Angel vs. Devil product placement is baaadd... that is just pigeonholing.
    My lad likes cuddly toys and hugs now and again (as well as wrestling and action movies) and my girl [18] likes studded leather belts, tattoos, horror movies as well as Disney. Everyone is different and tastes are varied.
    I had better remain anonymous as my kids would kill me!

  20. I swear the UK is slowly being turned into a mental assylum..!!


  21. who cares??? If girls want pink, let them have pink, plenty of other choices available, that is the whole thing about having a consumer society - buy what you like, you are not forced into buying pink, and i hate being told what I can or cannot do. I have nothing pink, but if I want to be pink, that would be my choice!

  22. I trust that in the name of equality they propose banning all blue toys as well! Perhaps absolutely everything should be a nice neutral shade of grey. And determinedly functional not fancy.

  23. My sister hated pink when she was young. She much prefered boys toys and games, but I don;t think this had any bearing on her as she grew up. Her partner, Victoria, agrees.

  24. My brother vetoed it successfully that my niece should be wearing anything pink. Both my niece and my nephew play with the same toys, and these are: books, stuffed animals, toy trains, toy cars, wood blocks, wooden animals, lego, puzzles, textile dolls, puppets, family games, balls, frisbees, paper, glue, old newspapers, balloons, crayons and children's water colours, musical instruments, children's bicyles, stones in a brook; and most importantly a living cat and their parents and friends. Sometimes other relatives as well. Maybe some wooden pink pigs in and far between. How is your leg, XTM? I hope you don't have to eat any pink food?! Greetings from Styria! Barbara

  25. Hi Barbara

    Mrs XTM and I brought up two girls. They both had gender neutral toys and yet as grown ups they love pink. I did try. I don't like the sickly pink toys but I don't like the idea of a pressure group interfering. I'm an old fashioned libertarian and that sort of thing brings out my awkward side. Live and let live is my motto.

    I hope Austria is looking beautiful for Christmas.

    Best wishes


  26. It's not that these mothers hate pink, more that there is no longer any choice. ELC used to sell all sorts of stuff, now anything that is even vaguely aimed at girls is made in pink, and only pink. Pink vet set, pink cash register, it's as though the only coloured plastic they have is pink. Go to and type "pink" into the search box. Yes, lots of little girls like pink, but surely they need other choices instead of this colour rammed down their throats. *And breathe*....

  27. I wouldn't argue with that at all. I hate sickly pink toys too and would go out of my way to by a child something that isn't made of plastic and supplied in a garish colour. However, my point is not so much about the pink and more about the Social Enterprise that is pinkstinks. It just seems a bit opportunistic and publicity seeking. And before anyone accuses me of doing the same with all the Traction Man publicity, that was unleashed on the press by a friend of mine with a great sense of fun and mischief. Thank goodness I managed to remain anonymous.

  28. Hi XTM
    I have a grandson that is all boy and has pink tape on his ice hockey stick. He loves pink. The other grandson loves purple. What is the big deal with pink. It isn't only for girls. There are boys that like it to.

    Some people just have to make a noise. They have to justify their existance some way. The politically correct crap is just that and I am getting sick of it.

    Common sense has just been flushed down the loo.

    Hope you are feeling well.


  29. Strike me pink!