The other day, I had to go get some blood drawn. Because of the bizarre way my medical provider structures itself, the immunology clinic is in the children's wing. As a result, the latest chapter in my "why-do-I-get-mono-so-often" detective mystery takes place amidst Disney characters, cartoon trains, and primary colors. It's far cheerier than adult hospital, plus you get to choose a sticker before you leave.
Anyway, after the phlebotimist works his or her magic, they usually press a little square of gauze against the place where the needle went in and tell you to hold it there for a minute. Then they wrap it with that self-adhesive rubbery wrap stuff. But since the office is so child-friendly, instead of having plain old boring beige gauze, they have waaay cooler ones. Check out the types below:
Specifically, my office had the hearts, the dinosaurs, and the race cars (pink, green, and blue).
So my own, personal, bearded, honey-haired, thirty-something whippersnapper of a phlebotomist has finished the draw, and I'm dutifully holding the gauze, and next thing I know, he's lassoing my elbow with the pink one. "Why did you--" I sputtered. Then I smiled and chuckled. "Oh, I see," I say. "Girls get the hearts and boys get the racecars?"
...To which he replied, without irony, "Yep." Not being able to let it go, I said, "Wait, really? Blue for boys and pink for girls and green if you run out of either?" "Yeah," he said again, at this point seeming a little puzzled at my inability to grasp the concept of gendered self-adhesive medical wrap.
"Well, if you would have asked, I'd have preferred the race cars, or even better, the dinosaurs," I said. I grinned, hoping to convey that I didn't actually give a hoot what was on my arm at the moment, but that he might want to ask kids their preferences. "It's just like when I was a kid," I continued. "They gave me the pink, but I wanted the green or the blue."
At this point, he gave me a look that--albeit not the least bit mean--made it clear he had more useful places to be, told me to have a great day, and headed out of the room. I didn't stop him, but I hope that next time he phlebotomizes a wee one, he thinks twice before slapping on a gender-normative wrap. Is one wrap a big deal in the context of things? Of course not. But these little signals add up. They are the stuff of society, and they are the stuff of gender normativity. They are the way, brick by brick, we come to build the beliefs we hold about the way men and women "are."
Yeah, I'm butch enough to sport pink hearts around my left elbow. But just the same, I made sure to conspicuously choose a big ol' Spiderman sticker on the way out.
Try buying a simple shirt for a toddler girl that doesn't have a princess, heart, lace, rainbow, unicorn, the word "sassy", or come in pink, purple, or pink. Recently I've seen a weird teal color emerging for young girls' clothing. That's really the best effort these companies have made to date.
5/10/2013 05:00:13 am
We use "vet wrap" at the animal ER. We have cammo and big cat print....in various colors. My co-workers generally use pink for girls, blue for boys. I prefer to match their coat colors or pink for a naughty boy, and blue for a naughty girl. You would not believe how many men get upset when they see pink on their male dogs, and how many cover their eyes when we take a rectal temp.....lol
5/10/2013 05:00:30 am
I talked to a coworker about something similar. I work in a child and adolescent psych. hospital and coloring packets are a staple among the little kids because it is a way to teach them how to self soothe and also task completion skills. So, the therapist for the group makes two different coloring packs usually cars and Disney princesses and lets the kids chose, for which I commend her. but she also asks each kid: "Do you want a boy packet or a girl packet." The first time I heard this, I did a facepalm.
5/10/2013 11:56:52 am
What, exactly, does it mean to "be butch enough" to sport pink on your elbow? I find that really curious.
5/11/2013 12:49:27 am
This is not really along the lines of the post.. But is it common practice in the US to have a self-adhesive wrap for such things as a needle site?
5/21/2013 08:06:19 am
I'm not a medical professional, but I think so--at least, if there's risk of bleeding. Not for things like shots, though--for that, they usually just give me a band-aid.
5/11/2013 01:18:12 am
Isn't this article also, in someway, subconsciously defining what it means to be butch? I've seen plenty of ladies out there who wear pink and are self labelling butches. Colour in ones outfit is nice, regardless of the colour.
5/21/2013 08:08:25 am
Sure it is. And I don't think it's subconscious. If we define butch very loosely as "female masculinity," then it's clear to me that pink isn't what we'd normally think of as butch. Unless you think that pink is a culturally "masculine" color (which, to me, it's not). Mind you, I'm not saying anything about the inherent masculinity of pink, just commenting on a cultural phenomenon.
5/19/2013 01:27:42 am
Decades ago, when I was a young feminist, I assumed that this sort of thing was going the way of the dinosaurs and I wouldn't have to worry about it in the future. In short, I believed in human reason and progress. I didn't figure on the power of marketing and advertising to perpetuate gender roles. Now I realize that it takes a ridiculous amount of effort to get people to questions these things instead of going along with the status quo. I try not to get discouraged, but it seems as if we made a few steps forward and have slid back about 40 years.
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