Kaleidoscope with Helen Carroll - Colour Blind

There’s never been a preponderance of pink in this house. A colour that’s come to define all things feminine, for some reason it never really took root. When the little girl first arrived over ten years ago, it quickly made it’s way in the front door. But didn’t stay very long.

There’s never been a preponderance of pink in this house. A colour that’s come to define all things feminine, for some reason it never really took root. When the little girl first arrived over ten years ago, it quickly made it’s way in the front door. But didn’t stay very long.

Not because I have any particular aversion to the colour. It’s not one of my favourites, but I can think of shades a lot more unflattering. No, it made only a short visit here because none of her favourite toys or clothes happened to come in that particular colour.

From a young age it was always animals over dolls, Scooby Doo over Barbie and even jeans over dresses. They weren’t actually worn over dresses. Because there was no way a dress was being put near her without a monumental battle.

None of these decisions were mine, I never encouraged her to turn her little back on the slightest sign of femininity. It was her choice alone. I suppose you’d call it nature over nurture.

These things happen with a child. They develop their own little personality and preferences. Whether it’s for pink, purple, or even pitch black. And there’s not much a parent can do about it, apart from shoving their own preferences and personalities down their child’s throat. But even that doesn’t really work – believe me I’ve tried it.

But I didn’t take it as far as one couple over in England who went very publilc over their decision to make absolutely sure their child would not be defined by its gender. Five years ago a baby called Sasha was born and, apart from a few close family members, nobody was told whether Sasha was a boy or girl. They chose instead to use the term ‘The Infant’.

To make sure gender didn’t interefere with Sasha’s real personality coming through, the parents only let gender neutral toys into their house, banished the television and even alternated between girls and boys outfits. Skirts with floral patterns one day, camouflage combats the next.

But finally, last week, the parents chose to reveal – very publicly – that ‘The Infant’ was in fact a little boy. A little boy who was forced by his parents to play with dolls, wear dresses and even hide his own masculinity. Not to mention being forced to wear fairy wings and a tutu for a photograph on the cover of a family Christmas card.

None of these things are particularly bad, once it’s the child’s own decision to do them. Apart from the Christmas card thing, obviously, that really has to be seen to be believed.

But this child was forced to surpress any instincts of his own so his parents could conduct an extreme social experiment. One that sets out to discover just how much your gender shapes the kind of person you become.

I’m not sure whether they’ll find the answer to that one. But I’ll bet they’ll discover pretty soon how much hiding your natural instincts and being forced into a childhood of extreme political correctness can mess you up.

No matter how much we want to, there’s very little we can really do about the nature and character of our children. We can force them to surpress it for a while, put on an act or behave in a certain way. But it will, eventually, come bubbling to the surface.

Like it or not, their own innate make-up will always win out. Or at least it should. Whether that’s choosing black over pink, messy jeans over pretty dresses or even simply wanting to behave like other little boys (and not be forced into a tutu) then all you can do is leave them at it. Because this really is a battle you’ll never win.