history of gender and clothing

helpful baby shower tip

when your friends start having kids, do Punnett squares to determine their offspring’s most probable hair and eye color and coordinate your gifts accordingly

remember- pink for brown hair, blue for blond hair, and green or yellow for red hair. it’s traditional!

Here’s Ed in a dress.

FUN FACT: up until about the 40s or 50s, pink was a boy’s color, since it was thought of as a diluted red. Blue was for girls, because Virgin Mary was oft depicted in a soft blue shawl.

The Relationship Between Colours and Gender

“Pink is for girls, blue is for boys.” This is a common sentiment we see throughout western culture, but where did it originate? And how did it become so pervasive? From its effects on clothes to toys we can find this statement in almost all aspects of life, yet it has not always been this way. Taking a look back through history we can see how the ideas surrounding clothing and gender have evolved to our understanding of it today.

It would surprise many people to know that in the 1800s, a time we can all agree to have been far more conservative, it was standard for both young girls and boys to wear white dresses and have long hair. This was for the sake of functionality, as it was easier to bleach white clothing and dresses were easier to wrangle small children into, but it is the beginning of the evolution of our current state of expectations regarding gender and clothing.

As the 1800s progressed into WWI, a shift towards pastels was seen for infants and toddlers, and there was an emerging separation of colours between sexes. Yet colours assigned to specific genders was originally the opposite of what we expect today. In a June 1918 article, the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl” (qtd. In Smithsonian). So as we can see in the different trends throughout history, colours specific to certain genders are picked arbitrarily, and have no real weight.

After WWII a shift began that was more in line of what we expect today: blue became for boys, while pink was for girls. Although this was a general rule, it was in no way as prevalent as it is today. Different areas of the Western world still stuck by the old expectations, and did not change until far later. Each culture has its own unique traditions and styles of dress, and as such, different cultures and countries developed their own expectations of clothing and gender. Therefore not all countries then or today adhere to what we commonly perceive as the norm regarding clothing and gender.

Through the 1960s and 70s gender specific clothing in terms of colour was far more prominent in children than adults. During the women’s rights movement in the 1970s the separation of gender by colour became even less pronounced as mothers and women chose to not dress their daughters in pink in an attempt to have them treated as equals. Sadly, this only further defined pink as a colour for girls, and in connection blue for boys.

In the 1980s a major upheaval occurred with the reintroduction of gender specific colours in not just clothes but also toys and other products, mainly marketed for children. It is here that we see most evidently a divide between the genders occur in terms of marketing and products. Girls did not just have pink clothing, but also pink toys usually dolls or makeup sets, while boys had blue clothing, blue toys, and cars and other action toys.

This sudden rise in colour specific products was due in part to the ability to determine the child’s gender before they were born. This allowed people to better prepare and buy specific gender marketed items; such as diapers, clothing, and toys. Retailers also sell more products by better determining and marketing towards their intended demographic. As a result it is a smarter business decision to separate products by gender, which encouraged companies to continue to divide products as ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’.

After the sudden and extreme colour division of the 80s today we observe a decrease in these gender specific products and clothing. With further tolerance and open mindedness regarding gender and stereotypes there has been a steady decline in the traditional expectations. More and more people are requesting manufacturers and stores to provide more gender neutral clothing and toys. Although there are still many preconceived notions of what is appropriate for girls and boys our society is steadily changing its view to be more open minded and accepting of all clothing and colour preferences, regardless of gender.

Source: Maglaty, Jeanna. “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?” Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

upholding gender specific behavior is so bizarre. its like… y’all realize these are all random, made up rules that we’re following? “guys cant wear heels!” says who?? men were wearing heels in the 19th century. the rule used to be that blue was a girls color and pink was for boys. the assigned gender of colors and styles of dress is constantly changing and to say that someone cant wear something because of their gender or appearance is fuckin stupid, dude. in 50 years men are gonna be wearing skirts casually and no ones gonna bat an eye and i cant fucking wait.

A More Accurate History of Clothing Colour and Gender in The West

(That isn’t just that  “in the past, pink was for boys! And then, suddenly, Hitler” thing)


EVERYONE: *wears all the colours*

BABIES: *wear white*

PURITANS: Ugh. You’re all trying to look pretty, and enjoying yourselves.



EVERYONE ELSE: Fine, do what you want.


MEN: You guys, we’re not Puritans as such, but I think they might have had a point? We’re trying to look pretty, and enjoying ourselves. I think that might not be okay?

EVERYONE ELSE: Er, why not?

MEN: It’s what women do?

WOMEN: I thought it was what everyone did.

BABIES: *still wear white*


MEN: Anyway, we’re going to tone it the hell down. Black. Grey. Blue. Beige. Dark green for when we’re feeling flashy.

WOMEN: Fine, do what you want.

BABIES: *still wear white*


MEN: Actually I think beige might be too exciting.

WORKING CLASS MEN: We want to keep on wearing at least a little bit of brighter blue and red.

UPPER CLASS MEN: Fine, but that’s only because you’re common.

WOMEN: We’re going to keep on wearing all the colours we can get our hands on.

MEN: Of course you are, you adorable little flibbertigibbets. Women! Amirite?

WOMEN: And we’re going to put some of these colours on our babies now, too.

MEN: Sure, who cares – childrearing: your thing. When Little Johnny’s five it’ll be all black and navy blue for the rest of his life, though.

BABIES *still wear a lot of white* *but also some colours*

1920s -30s

EVERYONE: Gosh the First World War was depressing.

MEN: Sigh… I miss colours.


MEN: Maybe if I wore a brightly coloured tie nothing bad would happen?

JEEVES: Sir, no.


EVERYONE: YES! Wait, no? YES! By gender? No, by hair colour! Maybe let’s put pink on boys and blue on girls, wait, pink on brown-haired babies and blue on blondes, no, the other way round…

MEN: I really miss colours.


WORLD WAR TWO: Well, that’s too bad, sunshine, because you’re going to be wearing khaki for a LONG TIME.

MEN: Oh, damn.

WORLD WAR TWO: And even if you’re not, everything is, again, really depressing and I don’t think this is the time or place to be experimenting with jewel-tones.

EVERYONE: There’s not really any time or money to colour-code the babies now.


EVERYONE: Finally, we can get back to colour-coding the babies! Pink for girls, blue for boys. I’m so glad we got that sorted out. Let’s try and solidify some regressive gender-roles while we’re at it.

MEN: So… no colours for us?

OTHER MEN: Basically, no.



OTHER MEN: How shocking.

EVERYONE: Ehh, colour-coding the babies is okay, I guess, but we’re not that bothered.


WOMEN: Let’s do feminism!

EVERYONE: I don’t want to colour-code the babies any more! Everyone should wear everything! Especially orange and brown!


CAPITALISM: No, wait, colour-coding the babies was a great idea. You know why?

EVERYONE: No, why?

CAPITALISM: Because it will make it much harder for you to give your old babies’ clothes to friends or hand them down to your younger children. Each child needs its own, brand new, fashion-forward, gender-specific wardrobe!

EVERYONE: Ohh, right, better get on that.


EVERYONE: Girls can wear all colours, but boys cannot wear pink.

EVERYONE: Little girls really love pink.

EVERYONE: Girls should mostly wear pink.

EVERYONE: Girls should ONLY wear pink.


EVERYONE: *Exhausted and confused and sick of the sight of a perfectly nice colour.*



5 Girly Fashions Men Wore First

raising the question did men used to wear lady clothes, or do ladies wear men clothes, or IS IT ALL PART OF THE SAME GIANT GENDER PERFORMANCE WARDROBE?

blondiebabe  asked:

Hi! I know that 'transsexual' and 'transvestite' are innapropriate words to use, but i've never been told why. I hope its okay for me to ask why, and if not i'm so sorry. (Disclaimer- i never use those words, im just trying to learn more about this)

No problem! A lot of the issue comes from the fact that those two words were both used before people really understood sex and gender. They thought they were the same thing, that gender was just an expression of sex.

Just yesterday I read a blogger who prefers transsexual over transgender for themself, so for anyone that embraces these labels, you’ve got my support 100%! I’m just answering the question of why some people don’t like these terms.

- Transvestite. Literally, “wearing the clothes of the other.” Some cis-people like to dress in the clothes of the other sex/gender, so they are not transgender, they just like wearing the clothes. 

Psychologists used to consider this a fetish, a psychological problem, and that’s why the word transvestite doesn’t have a great history. It doesn’t recognize gender at all, historically it focuses on the sexualization of clothes. 

Also, drag queens have in the past been labeled transvestites, which further confuses the word. Some drag queens are trans, some are gay or bi men who are just putting on a show, and while some queens may be technically transvestites, you can see how the word isn’t really accurate for transpeople who dress as they do because of their gender identity, not because of a clothing fetish.

- Transsexual. Many people feel that this term puts too much focus on surgery, genitalia and transition, vs. the authentic person and their gender identity. Laverne Cox brings this up when interviewers ask her about “the surgery” or “down there.”

Janet Mock and Carmen Carrera have brought up the exact same point in interviews.

Hope this helps! My recommendation is to follow cues and see how a person refers to themself.   

Update: here is a handy language guide provided by GLAAD.

on rape culture

Today I read an article that contained the letter the victim of the Stanford swimmer rapist read to her attacker. 

The actions of the rapist are despicable. Worse yet, the actions of the judge, of those who support him, of the society that tells him that he can rape another living, breathing, human being and get away with it because he is a star athlete with no previous record is despicable. 

As I read this article, I started crying. I felt like I was going to throw up. I have not been a victim of rape. But statistically, I will be. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center estimates that one in five women will be raped in their lifetimes. How many women do you know? Imagine, that for every five of them, one of them will be forced to have sexual intercourse against her will, violently and without remorse. Imagine if that is your sister, your mother, your daughter, your cousin, your aunt, your friend. And after they are degraded, after they are violated, after they are made to feel worth less than the dirt on the ground, rape culture in society will tell their attackers that what they did was okay. Rape culture in society will tell their attackers that his athletic achievements excuse his behavior because of his “potential”. 

One in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college. The acceptance rate for the college I will attend is only nine in a hundred, which is 0.45 out of five. The chance I will be raped in this college is 45 times higher than my chances of getting into this college. This is unacceptable.

Rape is the only crime in which the victims are made to feel as if it is their fault. No one takes into account a murder victim’s clothing. There is no question of consent in a murder case. No one asks assault victims whether they wanted their attacker to hit them, to stab them, to wound them. So why should sexual assault be any different? 

Alcohol does not excuse an attack. As the victim said, “alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked…We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference”. 

Twelve out of twelve jurors found him guilty. Twelve out of twelve jurors said that what he did was wrong. To them, it did not matter what his swimming times were, it did not matter what his future aspirations were. What mattered was that he took advantage of a vulnerable young woman who was unable to defend herself, that he forcibly penetrated her against her will. There was no doubt about his actions: corroborating witnesses, her bruises and abrasions all added up to a guilty verdict. Twelve out of twelve jurors said she did not want the attack, that she wrongfully assaulted. But one judge determined that he would not have to pay for his actions. One judge said that “prison would have a negative impact on him”, as if the negative impacts on the victim were negligible, as if they did not matter. By saying this, he said that rapists do not have to atone for their crimes as long as they can find the right person to buy off. It’s disgusting.

His father said that six months was a “steep price to pay for twenty minutes of action”. It is not merely twenty minutes of action. It is the aggregate of rape culture, hundreds of years of systematic violence against women, hatred and oppression. It was nineteen years of internalizing the mantra of “boys will be boys”, the sick belief that he is entitled to whatever he wants because of his Y chromosome. It was those hours he spent at that party, scouting his victim and planning what to do with her and the year he spent recruiting lawyers, private investigators and witnesses to twist the story to suit his needs. Rape culture is the fact that you cannot even realize what your son did was wrong, that you think six months is a severe sentence for the degradation and destruction of a girl’s entire life. In those “twenty minutes of action”, her life was ripped apart and trampled on. Those “twenty minutes of action” will forever leave its mark that a lifetime cannot erase. It leaves its mark not only on her, but on other rape victims across the world who are told that their value, their worth, their entire being does not matter because their rapists will not have to answer for their crimes due to their “potential”. So no, it was not only “twenty minutes of action”. 

The thing that stood out to me most in the article was this phrase: “Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else”. This is the summation of everything that is wrong with rape culture. As indirect victims of rape, we have internalized the fact that rape is inevitable. It will happen and all we can do is try to make sure that it doesn’t happen to us. This truth is unacceptable. We do not say that murder must happen. We do not say assault must happen. Therefore, we should not and must not say that rape is inevitable, that there’s nothing we can do about it. We must educate society that it is a crime to rape, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, athleticism, intelligence, alcohol ingestion, clothing, dating history, or any other factor. Rape is rape is rape and it is a crime. 

if youre watching the gendering of clothing evolve across cultural lines and throughout history and what you take from it is that Clothing Isn’t Gendered then you should meditate a lil bit on why the fuck u think Empty Of Essence means Empty Of Conventional Existence