Toilets and Pink Hair II: What it was really about

I think I have more to say on this topic after reading the feedback on the previous post, so thanks to all for bringing the clarity to me. Perhaps I was stretching it a bit in trying to bring too many topics under one umbrella. So now I’m just going to talk about women and girls and their objectification. While it is true that women do enjoy broad professional and political equality in Argentina, which is to be applauded, they continue to be objectified, their femininity given disproportionate importance, placing them forever on the pink team since the only other option is blue. But what about purple or green or yellow? (Not talking about hair here anymore, folks, so keep up.) Cristina said it herself: “I am not a feminist; I am feminine.” She’s also pumped full of botox and likes to flip her bangs like a teenager while addressing the nation. She embodies exactly what I’m talking about. Professional woman, Barbie worshipper.

For anyone who doesn’t have kids, it’s important to understand where my concerns are rooted when it comes to raising mine here. As adults, we are at liberty to choose the people we socialize with, the ways we go about it, the social norms we will and will not adhere to. If I don’t care to participate in football madness and deal with the barras bravas, I don’t have to; if I’d rather not kiss all 40 people at the birthday party when I arrive, I just don’t. And I can choose to take a positive attitude and focus on the fact that women have successful careers here and try not to look at the massive billboard images of vedettes plastered all along Corrientes. Or that pole-dancing is the most popular thing on TV, viewed by entire families including little girls and abuelitas.

But on the playground, the rules are not like this. Kids don’t get to make those choices; they have to learn the codes and adapt. And my concern is the message being put out there about what is feminine and what is not. And how this message seems to be embraced across society by women as well as men. Ergo, short hair is not feminine. (I suppose pink is, but only in a secondary sort of way once it’s chopped off. The pink hair story wasn’t really about that anyway.) Playing soccer is not feminine, ditto for basketball, etc.; only volleyball and field hockey qualify as school sports sufficiently feminine for girls to play. Go figure. These are subtle, insidious expressions of societal views that are put forward by teachers, classmates and family members of both genders.

The objectification of women is a global issue, not unique to Argentina. However, what I see as women’s complicity in perpetuating the image of extreme femininity here perplexes me. Which brings me back to the toilet issue. In this case a broad dismissal (again, across genders) of women’s “feminine” needs. And yes, while hovering over the toilet is standard practice in public bathrooms, it’s not possible for little girls or old ladies. They have to sit. And their needs are being ignored. By other women.

8 comments on “Toilets and Pink Hair II: What it was really about

  1. Daniel says:

    Hear, hear. Except the bit about the toilets, again.


  2. Patricia says:

    I think you should just do another post altogether on the toilet seat dilemma, and don’t make it at all related to raising girls….
    I enjoyed the posts and appreciate the conflicts. Thanks, Sarah.


  3. Excellent addition, Sarah! Now that I’m back in the US now, I realize how stifled I’d felt while being in Argentina. Moreover, being a plus size doesn’t help either. It would be nice if you’d write about the “size law” that isn’t being enforced, since I felt like a victim of that while living there.


    • otherfence65 says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Kimberly, I might just do that. I rarely shop for clothes here due to the prices, but recently had to find something for an event. Trying on clothes is beyond frustrating for anyone bigger than a size 6, no doubt about it. It was downright depressing.


  4. “Professional woman. Barbie worshipper.” Brilliant.


  5. egmuthu18 says:

    Hi there, I stumbled across this by chance and thoroughly enjoyed reading both of your Toilet and Pink Hair articles. As a UK student who has had the opportunity to travel around, live abroad, and be of mixed heritage, I have come across many different nationalities and cultures in a short time. This said, though being warned before my departure for Buenos Aires that there was a strong sense of ‘what it is to be a man’ and ‘what it is to be a woman’, I did not expect to find so many of these unwritten regulations surrounding femininity; the Rapunzel-like hair seems to be the Golden rule. Somehow, I now find myself yearning for all that length and straightness (though mine is not very long and impossibly wavy/unruly). Not only that but I feel like there is a pressure here to try and be as skinny as all these other young women. In any case, kudos to your daughter for both standing out and standing up- back home, bold and bright is the look of the moment and pink ends look insanely good. And a short cut speaks volumes about a girl’s confidence


    • otherfence65 says:

      Thanks for reading–I shall pass your compliment on to my girl! And hope that, despite your very keen observations of gender so far in porteño culture, you’ll find that, like anywhere, they’re not all the same. In fact, I ended up marrying one of them:)


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