I was lucky enough to be born in the 1970s, when the pinkification of girls was not as prevelant as it is now. My sister and I were occasionally given the same toy in different colours, and I invariably went with blue while she chose red. I was virulently anti-pink, and while I played with dolls, I also had a collection of matchbox cars, a whole zoo-full of animals, and lots and lots of legos (with not a single pink block among them). Some of my favourite toys were a tool kit (with a saw that actually worked), the Fisher Price castle (which did have a pink dragon, but otherwise encouraged such ungirly behaviour as dropping all the characters in the dungeon and the alligator-filled moat), and the Fisher Price parking garage (complete with car elevator and petrol pump)*.
|Notice the matching outfits of the king and queen |
and prince and princess. Not a hint of pink.
|Garage equipped with elevator with ringing bell, rotating platform|
on the top floor and hydraulic lift for the cars. Bliss!
However, despite the lack of gendering pressure from my toys, I was highly covetous of one of my sister's possessions: a miniature closet containing a full complement of German-made, natural wood and metal cleaning implements (with real soap included). She was kind enough to let me play with it, and I spent many happy hours sweeping with the tiny broom and sloshing soapy water around with the tiny mop and pail.
I suppose an interest in minatures and cleaning are not necessarily gendered. Even in the 1970s my father shared housework duties (he did the 'manly' tasks: taking out the trash, vacuuming, and mowing & raking the lawn. My mother cooked and did laundry, my sister and I cleaned the bathrooms, set & cleared the table, washed & dried the dishes, and dusted). And given that my father is probably even tidier than my mother, I suppose my interest in cleaning could arguably come from both sides.
At any rate, I am still very fond of miniatures, and still a compulsive cleaner, so while on a trip to Germany, upon passing a shop dedicated to wooden cleaning implements, I absolutely had to stop and take a look.
|Hintz - Bürsten shop in the lovely university town of Marburg|
I oohed and aahed over the brooms and brushes of every shape, size and function, all made of natural wood and bristles. But I balked somewhat at the prices (10€ for an espresso brush? Gulp). Until I saw, miracle of miracles, a miniature cleaning set! Not quite as impressive as my sister's, but this one had the added bonus of a set of tiny clothes pins and chamois cloth. I bought the green set (of course).
|Cleaning set - containing the same fragrant soap as my sister's|
I briefly considered which friend's lucky daughter would receive it, but as one shouldn't, after all, encourage gendered toys for children, I decided I would just keep it for myself.
|Gleeful contemplation of my very own cleaning set, at long last.|
*Tragically, my parents gave the Fisher Price toys away when my sister and I went off to college. I am considering sourcing replacements from ebay.