75 thoughts on “Here’s one for Sociological Images

  1. See, I always said no matter what gender I have if I ever have kids, they’re wearing blue, because it’s my fave color and babies don’t give a crap what they’ve got on. It’s not so vital to me that other people know the gender of my infant on first sight. I mean, what good does that do? So they know what pronoun to use when they spew baby-talk the kid’s not going to understand yet anyway, or what?

    And don’t even get me started on the radical gendered crap we project onto our poor dogs. My little “chick dog” lives out here in the boonies with me and not a chic apartment, rolls in shit and plays fetch and does everything else any dog does, because, zomg, she’s a DOG.

    I’m sure pink baby there will love wrassling around on the floor with Everydog the Black Lab there (because we gotta have the Patriarchy-Approved Model Pooch or the image just doesn’t work as well), as much as any “bloo” baby.

    CHEEZUZ.

  2. Oh good grief.

    I have two cats, one male and one female. I find knowing their sex useful mainly so I can tell them each that they’re my “favorite little girl cat” or “favorite little boy cat,” because I like to babble at them.

    I’m pretty sure they’d both claw my eyes out if I declared either of them inappropriately be-genitaled to play with a ball, though.

  3. Er, my above comment is not to say infants and cats are exactly equivalent. It was connected in my mind because neither understand what you’re saying to them.

  4. The vast majority of strangers who felt the need to comment when my first daughter was young assumed she was a boy, even when she was wearing head to toe, pink, frilly ‘obligationwear’ (ie, gift clothing that still fit). I figured it was because she was bald.

    Once I started buying her clothes in a variety of colors, everyone suddenly got it right. even though she was still bald as a peach (and was until she was almost two and a half).

    Go figure.

  5. All but two of our 13 degus are female. We always refer to them as girls because we’ve had our first four for a year and a half but the males didn’t come along until Thanksgiving of this year (we rescued a degu we didn’t know was pregnant – well, we would have rescued her anyway, but it would have been nice to know to expect babies). And also because dude, degus are not easily distinguished from each other. The males and females all look the same. But I am sure that we’re totally giving the two males (Wash and Mal) major gender identity crises.

  6. we dressed our son in yellow when he was a baby and it caused no end of consternation in strangers.

    how dare we!

  7. The males and females all look the same. But I am sure that we’re totally giving the two males (Wash and Mal) major gender identity crises.

    Wash and Mal! Awesome!

    Is Jayne a girl?

  8. Yeah, Jayne is a girl. Not that we really planned on that. There were 4 babies (Zoe is the 4th), and you can’t really tell whether a degu is male or female until it’s at least 8 weeks old, so we just gave them all Firefly names and figured that degus don’t really need gender-specific nomenclature anyway, so it wouldn’t matter that much.

    Another one of our rescue degus was also pregnant, and we named her babies Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse, and all 3 turned out to be female.

  9. “Er, my above comment is not to say infants and cats are exactly equivalent.”
    Well, no. Cats are clearly superior. I mean, who would dispute this?

  10. I’m sorry to be clueless but could someone explain this to me? I’m not sure I understand what the concern is over the image…

  11. I think the consternation (and tell me if I’m wrong girls) is the implicaion that a pink baby e.g. a girl, will be unable to play ball games with the dog as it is a well-known medical fact that girls lack the necessary muscles, ability and desire to throw balls for dogs, whereas bule babys e.g. a boy will be able to meet the dog’s ball-throwing needs (in this instance the dog voices the patriarch of the family unit). Is that about it?

  12. “Er, my above comment is not to say infants and cats are exactly equivalent.”

    Uhm yeah because you’d be insulting cats. Do kids cover up their own poop and let me play kitty air guitar on their tummy- I didn’t think so.

  13. Carla, honestly, the biggest problem I have with it is that it’s using a DOG as the mouthpiece for antifeminist sentiments (a boy, or “blue,” baby would be able to grow up to throw a ball; a girl baby might not). A dog is way too good for that — they just don’t think that way!

  14. Thanks Chickfactor…I must be a little dense today or something, I totally missed that.

    Although I’m not sure there is necessarily a sinister meaning here…my first impression was that the dog was confused because the baby was different than he expected, but that his bottom line was that everything is fine as long as he gets to play ball. I could be wrong, and I see what you’re saying, but I’m not totally sure thats what the creator intended.

  15. Carla, possibly you’re right- who can ever really know the mind of their dog? :)

    It’s very sad that we STILL do the pink and the blue thing for babies. A neonate doesn’t even know it’s a person never mind if it’s a boy or a girl… My new niece is due in 24 days, and the grannies have gone pink and frilly mental!!

  16. Also, for me, it’s in the statement that the father promised the dog a blue boy baby, the implication that the pink girl baby, since she was not anticipated — not even so much as, ‘it might be pink’ — is less desireable than a boy, and, finally, in the portrayal of girl/boy gender roles as so true, so essential, in that even the family dog is aware that the pink girl baby might not want to play with him though the hypothetical blue boy baby could be safely assumed to want to do so.

  17. But Carla, the baby is only different than the dog expected because it has been prepared for a ‘blue baby’ by humans who value one ‘colour’ differently to another. And that’s supposed to be funny? Tell it to the dead girl babies in India and China. Oh yeah, hilarious.

  18. And my dog doesn’t care if you’re pink or blue as long as you throw his ball and scratch his tummy for an unfeasibly long time! :D

  19. Spilt Milk- well said. I know my brother was (not so) secretly devastated that his first born child was a girl…

  20. Well, Carla, something can certainly be sexist even if its author didn’t consciously intend it to be so.

    Which is exactly why this is one for Sociological Images, which collects images that illustrate assumptions and stereotypes even if that’s not what they’re designed for.

  21. Every time you perpetuate a played-out stereotype, a doggeh gets worried.
    (Which is of course bad in a variety of ways, including an extra one if said doggeh has a nervous bladder.)

  22. Right, I understand that things can be unintentionally offensive…I totally get that.

    My point was just that I understood the cartoon differently. In my mind it played out like this…parents were expecting a boy, ended up with a girl, Dad is introducing the girl to the dog, dog doesn’t care, he just want to be able to play. I could be totally wrong, I’m just saying that I saw it differently (in a way that I didn’t find offensive) and that I didn’t get what was bothering Kate about it.

    I’m not trying to cause an arguement…I’m just trying to learn and contribute.

  23. There’s a reason I bought my nephew a lot of green.

    Incidentally, when I was shopping for said nephew’s baby clothes, I couldn’t find anything in the baby girls’ section at Marshall’s that wasn’t pink, frilly, or both. The boys’ section had blue, green, yellow, tan, and red, and all sorts of other colors and patterns.

    I suspect that if I get around to having kids, I shall request that all clothing will be purchased out of the non-overly-gendered section.

  24. Which is exactly why this is one for Sociological Images, which collects images that illustrate assumptions and stereotypes even if that’s not what they’re designed for.

    Yup, exactly.

    Carla, it’s not so much that I find this offensive as that I find it sad. I agree that the dog doesn’t really care if it’s a boy or girl baby — what’s troubling is the idea that even the dog associates ball-playing with one gender.

  25. Kate, my point was that I didn’t see the dog associating ball playing with a single gender. I saw it as sort of a non-sequitor…the dog is suprised by the baby girl, and then jumps to an entirely different topic altogether (playing ball).

    Ultimately I see what you all are saying and I’m inclined to think my first impressions about the cartoon were wrong. My point was just that I saw the cartoon in a different way.

  26. all my hypothetical babies (which will only ever exist in my imagination when topics like this get brought up) will wear head to toe black. Goth babies!

  27. I buy lots of purple, yellow and green things for my friends kids. And the baby blankets I knit are purple, cream and light green. Huzzah for gender neutral babywear.

    Ironically a friend of mine had a baby girl last year and I bought her a onesie that was blue & brown and had a puppy on the front because my friend loves dogs.

    I’m so using this image in class tomorrow when we talk about gendered verbal and nonverbal communication too.

    DRST

  28. Slightly OT but my folks were so very careful to dress me in nongendered outfits skewing towards “boy” clothes–jeans, t-shirts, sneakers. Then when I was old enough to know what was going on they let me start picking my own stuff and of course I went STRAIGHT for the ruffly pink shit. Poor mom was so disappointed. Luckily I turned out a feminist anyway. Just a ruffly pink one. No accounting for taste, I guess.

    (This is not to say that she should have dressed me in ruffly pinks. I very much appreciate my parents’ willingness to let me decide for myself along with the ungendered toys/clothes/activities they always gave me and my sibs. But I’ve always just thought it was funny.)

  29. My first reading of this was that it was poking fun at stereotypes about boys and girls, not trying to reinforce them. But I am often wrong.

  30. Here’s one for the gendered baby clothes haters: when my brother was born the hospital couldn’t find a blue blanket so they wrapped him in a pale pink one and someone took a photo of him that way. My mother claims that was the start of his ‘downward spiral into homosexuality’. All I can say is it’s a good think we didn’t have a dog – it would have been so confused!

  31. This is a highly creepy photo/caption. For one, there’s the fact that the sexist “joke” isn’t funny and just calls awkward attention to the vacant space where the humor’s supposed to be. But then there’s also the fact that on maternity wards, a “blue baby” is a baby with cyanosis (aka “blue baby syndrome”), making the dog’s quip just… weird.

    Bleah.

  32. My first reading of this was that it was poking fun at stereotypes about boys and girls, not trying to reinforce them.

    I think you might be giving the ihasahotdog readership a little too much credit. But I could be wrong, too. :)

  33. I wouldn’t even bother submitting this to sociological images. for a site meant for students of sociology, the blind privilege can be pretty astounding. lately i’ve noticed a lot of male privilege (i.e. “why do you spend so much time talking about sex and women, you obviously are biased to write about that stuff, vagina-owning site owner” or “that ad w/ a woman falling over herself w/ her top falling off isn’t part of rape-culture, it’s just a super sleepy lady!”). though if you ignore those comments, the images posted can be pretty awesome.

  34. I played ball with my dog much more often than my brother did, but whatever.

    Just as a comment, in China pink is the traditional colour for baby boys, especially their shoes. I have a friend who moved to Beijing and married a Chinese guy, and when she posted pictures of her new son on Facebook, he was covered head to toe in pink. There were a lot of comments wondering what on earth she was doing to her poor son, and she basically told them to shut up, she was going to dress her baby in whatever she wanted, and besides, he was a Chinese baby, and would therefore wear pink. I kind of loved that.

  35. Yeah, I’ve noticed a distressing tendency among Sociological Images commenters to assume that noticing or talking about something is the same as making strident accusations about it. For instance they basically think that posting an image showing a woman being sexualized in anything but a pure marketing context is angry feminist propaganda. On a blog like that, this bothers me almost more than their sexist reactions to that imaginary propaganda.

    I can only assume that the smart people are just using the images in their sociology/rhetoric/women’s studies classes and shutting up about it.

  36. “On a blog like that, this bothers me almost more than their sexist reactions to that imaginary propaganda.”

    Yep. I assume they stumble over there from some random site. I don’t understand why some people actually take the time to comment that ‘such-and-such isn’t worth posting about’. If you’re not interested, go elsewhere.

  37. Gad. And people really do this. I have two friends who are having babies in the next few months. I knit pretty proficiently, so planned on knitted baby gifts. I found the cutest sweater, hat and blankie pattern, in blue, green and yellow, and bought enough for two.

    Mom One caught sight of my knitting basket while visiting, and commented on how freaking adorable the little sweater is, and that she wants one. Little did she know it’s hers. She doesn’t know the sex of the baby, but bought all gender neutral stuff for the first baby she had 2 years ago, figuring it to be reusable no matter what future babies turned out to be.

    Mom Two, though, has just showed me her all pink nursery, and commented on how awful gender neutral clothes for babies are, because “people can’t tell what it is! I don’t want them to think my little girl is a boy!”

    Fuck. Now I’m stuck with extra yarn and need a new plan. I think Baby One’s big brother is going to get a matching sweater to the one I give his new brother or sister.

    It’s a baby, y’all. Baby is not aware of his or her gender, and doesn’t care if you dress him or her in blue or pink. If they have a clean diaper, a full tummy and soft place to nap, they’re happy.

    Bah.

  38. The sexism was channeled back into the image for me. I read the image as poking fun at the dog for believing in stupid blue baby/pink baby crap, and on that level I found it at least somewhat funny.

    But, then, I am a cat person.

    Read the other way, and I can see why people are reading it like that, it really isn’t funny. It just falls flat.

  39. This is off topic, but thanks, Kate Harding for writing the piece for Salon from Forbes on management women in finance being laid off at a higher rate than men. I’m in a male dominated profession and all of a sudden, I’m experiencing the worst sort of lying and manipulation against my work record in order to nudge me up on the layoff list. They can’t get me on performance, experience, or education, so they just lie. If I go, there will be no women left except the admins on several teams I participate on. I’ll take any sort of good energy you all can send me.

  40. “The sexism was channeled back into the image for me. I read the image as poking fun at the dog for believing in stupid blue baby/pink baby crap…”

    Same for me, although I can now also see the alternate reading being a possibility. Perhaps the different readings stem partly from differing assumptions about dogs’ intelligence/self-awareness? When I go to read a quote attributed to a (lol-)dog, I usually assume the sentiment will be dumb or at least naive, whereas it’s those (lol-)cats from whom I expect witty observations and commentary. Kind of like Archie Bunker vs. Michael Spivak banter; we laugh *at* Archie’s ignorance and *with* Mike’s efforts to educate Archie.

  41. I have a girl.
    She wore lots of ivory and yellow as a tiny baby because we didn’t want to know her sex before she was born (I don’t say gender because I don’t want to assume that they are the same — I seriously didn’t want to assume this about my own child, either).
    We’ve given her a mix of toys and colors and other things to choose from, and she loves purple and pink and princess things, but not necessarily dolls and such. I don’t have any idea what in her is nature and what is nurture. I know she’s strong and assertive and affectionate and stubborn and unbearably beautiful and I don’t assume that any of this is because she’s a girl. And she throwns the ball to our dog just fine.

  42. A bit of a sidetrack: The Frailty Myth says there’s been a lot of research into throwing, and “throwing like a girl” is exactly and simply and identically the same as “throwing like an untrained person”. In a culture (the one I grew up in– I gather things have changed) where throwing like a girl is an emergency situation that must be immediately corrected for boys and just the nature of things for girls, the consequences are obvious.

    I give a moderate recommendation for the book– fascinating stuff about history (especially the Victorian fantasy of ideal helpless upperclass womanhood) and science, but there’s an assumption that everyone wants to be an athlete which I do not believe is true.

  43. Yeah, I love Sociological Images but I never read the comments for the reasons stated above. Yet another example of why it’s good to have a draconian comments policy.

  44. Yeah, A Sarah, I’m having a hard time looking past the use of the phrase “blue baby” altogether. I do not think that means what they think it means.

  45. We’ve given her a mix of toys and colors and other things to choose from, and she loves purple and pink and princess things, but not necessarily dolls and such.

    I was so disappointed at first that my son has never had the slightest interest in dolls. Stuffed animals, yes; dolls, no. Cars have been his preferred toy since he was about 18 months old. He’s never asked me for or wanted a toy gun, but he’s turned all sorts of things into pretend guns. But he also likes arts and crafts and wants to learn to knit. Blue’s his favorite color. I figure that it’s not my job to force him to play with dolls or to discourage him from doing traditionally “boy” things; it’s just my job to let him be the person he is.

  46. ahhhh…. the pink/blue thing. doggie should be happy they have a baby all dressed in energetic light red, instead of pacifing blue. clearly the light red swathed baby will be much more likely to play ball.

  47. Black for babies is a fun idea, but in practice it doesn’t really work out–black jersey picks up a lot of lint and showcases spit-up like a spotlight.

  48. Someone upthread mentioned that they thought this image was poking at gender stereotypes. I think that might have been more likely the case if the dog asked if the colors had been switched and dog was asking if the bloo baby would play ball since the parents had hyped up to him how the anticipated little girl would be eager to play/run/ball-play with the puppy. But then again maybe not even then…

    I’ve always loved greens and yellows and totally plan for any future babies to be inundated with jungle/zoo themed garb until old enough to voice preferences of their own!

    My mom was pretty awesome about allowing my brother and I to choose colors. I had an entirely purple bedroom. And my brother had a deep rust red carpet and sea foam green walls. He’s a touch color blind but loved those colors and who are we to argue; maybe we’re the ones who aren’t seeing the combination for what it could be! :)

  49. I have a completely different concern: when did this trend toward sort-of-phonetically spelled, non-standard-grammar captioning begin? I think I see it mainly when used as “animal speak,” but I spoke in correct grammar to my pets, wouldn’t they speak that way back?

    I know this is just advertising myself as completely unhip. I had to google “teh” and “pwn” this week because I feel like I missed the memo on net-speak.

  50. Noelle, “netspeak” is kind of a watered-down outcropping of 1337 (that’s “leet” which is an abbreviation of “elite”). It’s a shorthand that was formed by computer-oriented folk (we’re talking people who used computers back when you had to put in command prompts just to do anything). Numbers that look like letters, common mistypes (like “teh” which will happen by mistake pretty often if you’re a quick typist), and phonetics were used to create their own “language.” Hope that helps.

  51. Also, a bit OT but I’ve noticed a few comments here and there and it’s a little confusing to me. I’ve never understood the “dog person” vs. “cat person” thing, or the concept that dogs or cats are stupid or naive or whatever. It smacks to me of sexism/racism/ projecting our own preferences onto creatures who simply are as they are and can’t be so neatly boxed any more than we can. People who think dogs are stupid obviously never met the average Border Collie (who are OCD brainiacs to the extent they are absolutely manic if not given proper stimulation). People who think cats aren’t affectionate certainly never came across my Duffy, who purrs at being picked up and has the distinction (that even my dog does not) that he adores being hugged.

    I am one of those freaks with dogs and cats (and mice and frogs, and that’s not counting pets past). It’s so much a matter of individual personality. I’ve had a cat who was stereotypically aloof and clever. I’ve had a dog who was stereotypically flighty and simple. And I’ve had every other wacky personality in between.

    My current dog Eppy is either really smart or basically a psychic, and I can’t seem to figure out which. She’ll cheerfully obey… if it’s fun for her. Obedience bores her, but she loves tricks because everyone smiles and “awwws” and tells her how great she is. Nobody does that when you “sit.” booooooring!

    Duffy, my cat, is a lovable lug. He’s bigger than the dog, always knocking something over, and always on hand when laps are being created (clearly, solely for his cuddling pleasure). He has no idea that bodies have nerves, as far as I can tell, because he’ll just stomp all over you. He really doesn’t know his own strength.

    I’ve got the calculating clown and the clueless captain of the football team. Both full of love in their own ways, but usually, one would think the former the cat and the latter the dog. It’s totally the other way around. For what that’s worth.

    And you know, something else occurred to me while writing this and looking at the image… why would the dad tell the dog it was a good thing to have blue balls?! LOLSNARK.

  52. LOL Tricia! That kind of spelling does seem to happen with animal-oriented things a lot, doesn’t it? Pet stores are full of cutesy misspelled products and on Dogster we “bark out loud” and on Catster there is talk of our “meowmies and daddies.” And baby stuff too, like backwards letters and things.

    I wonder if it’s because so many of us think of pets as our kids?

  53. The vast majority of strangers who felt the need to comment when my first daughter was young assumed she was a boy, even when she was wearing head to toe, pink, frilly ‘obligationwear’ (ie, gift clothing that still fit). I figured it was because she was bald.

    People thought my son was a girl even when he was wrapped in a blue blanket, right up until all his hair fell out at 3 months.

  54. I read the caption as poking fun at the gender stereotypes, obviously a girl can play ball with a dog, that’s why it’s funny that the dog thinks it makes a difference.

    On the whole pink/blue thing for babies, I think it’s pretty harmless overall. I bought cute things for all my kids, but didn’t get offended when my Mom when a bit pink and frilly crazy with my daughter, she has nine grandsons and only one granddaughter to do pink and frilly with.

    The hair vs. no hair thing is peculiar, all my babies had thick hair at birth boys and girl alike; and I knew other mothers who had all bald babies. You’d think any semi-observant human would notice that baldness and gender are completely unrelated in infants.

    Throwing like a girl is a stereotype that needs fixing, I expect that as more and more girls participate in sports it will go away. I was a girl before Title IX and sports just weren’t part of girls lives back then, the way they are now. I couldn’t be more pleased, as learning to move and enjoy it is so important to health.

  55. Oh, and while I prefer cats; dogs are very nice too, so are guinea pigs and fish. I’m not sold on hamsters though, they bite and eat their babies.

  56. On the whole pink/blue thing for babies, I think it’s pretty harmless overall. I bought cute things for all my kids, but didn’t get offended when my Mom when a bit pink and frilly crazy with my daughter, she has nine grandsons and only one granddaughter to do pink and frilly with.

    If I don’t get offended by it, it can’t possibly be a problem!

    Throwing like a girl is a stereotype that needs fixing, I expect that as more and more girls participate in sports it will go away.

    If a group is subject to negative stereotypes, they should just work extra hard, against the very odds those stereotypes create, to prove that they’re false!

    Piffle, you are smarter than this.

  57. I remember a male friend of mine telling me that on the first day of second grade they got to make nametags for their desks. They could choose either pink construction paper or blue. He chose pink. The teacher immediately told him he was a boy and needed blue.

    Another friend was lectured after posting pictures of her son’s nursery that had gasp! a chandelier in it. People were concerned he’d grow up confused.

    In preschool my sister was constantly redirected towards dolls if a boy wanted the firetrucks or trains she was playing with.

    You know, for “natural inclinations” it seems a lot of effort goes into enforcing them.

  58. Another friend was lectured after posting pictures of her son’s nursery that had gasp! a chandelier in it. People were concerned he’d grow up confused.

    Confused about what exactly? Do they think he might grow up to be the Phantom of the Opera?

    You know, for “natural inclinations” it seems a lot of effort goes into enforcing them.

    Mm hm.

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