Here’s the thing about getting overly excited by the arrival of a catalog of high-end nursery furnishings: one way or another, you’re going to get your heart broken. Usually, it’s by drooling over the latest mid-century child’s bookcase, only to discover it’ll cost you $899. But today, with the arrival of the Dwell Studios catalog, my wife and I found a new way to feel deflated: simple sexism.
I never would have imagined how much I love being the father of a little girl. It’s just awesome. But I am very, very sensitive to the everyday sexism that permeates the world of girls’ clothes, toys, after-school programs and, as we discovered tonight, bedsheets.
Flipping through the lovely Dwell catalog, I was drawn to a new collection, Flight, “inspired by the clean lines and bold graphics of mid-century aviation posters.” It also fits in with one of my fatherly missions: making sure my daughter knows she can do any damn thing she wants to do. CEO, scientist, poet, pilot.
Except that apparently won’t fly with the folks at Dwell. The “Flight” collection, the catalog language explains, is “for the little adventurer”, and as we all know, girls have no taste for adventure, right? To drive the point home, Dwell includes a graphic that reads “Appropriate for” followed by two boxes, “boys” and “girls”. Boys is checked, girls is not:
Let’s leave the high flying to the boys, shall we?
And with that, Dwell gently wraps an arm around us to lead us to the gender-limited world of “Posey,” which is “appropriate for” girls (not boys, of course) and features “a field of flora showcasing a variety of blooms in rich, saturated hues…a beautiful collection that feels timeless, fresh and beautifully girly.”
Thanks, Dwell. Thanks for helping me understand which of your $160 crib bumpers would be “appropriate” for my child. Because God forbid I screw this up and accidentally inspire my daughter to like aviation, or my son to appreciate flowers. I mean, can you even imagine?
I’d laugh it all off if I didn’t believe it shocking that in 2014, nobody at Dwell thought “um, maybe girls might like planes?” Or even “perhaps the word ‘appropriate’, which suggests ‘inappropriate’, might piss parents the hell off?”
Here’s what’s really appropriate, Dwell: that I teach my daughter not to buy into this kind of sexist crap, even if your sheets do look exquisite.