Here’s a color wheel for Ben Radford

Well, three actually.

Ben claimed, in response to a four year old, that there’s a reason that girls’ toys are pink. First it’s because “colors have been gendered for millennia”, or due to women gaining a special ability to prefer reddish colors because that helped them pick berries/detect illness in children/insert evopsych explanation here. I’m rather fond of how you can replace those explanations with anything that involves the color red, really, and then map it to whatever gender you like, which gives a lot of legitimacy to those claims.

Both of those reasons are bullshit because “pink = girl” is an idea that’s not even a century old. But Ben had another reason up his sleeve, like anyone poised and ready to grasp at straws.

His reason?

1) Most girls play with dolls

2) Most toys that girls play with are dolls (i.e. they are by far the most common girls’ toy)

3) Most dolls are pink

4) Therefore most girls’ toys are pink.

I’m embarrassed to say that that’s a direct quote.

Now, I could go over how it makes no sense that children would want toys that match the flesh of babies, but Ben says that he wants to deal with “evidence and objective claims”. Objective claims? Like that doll skin is pink?

Why, have some evidence with that objective claim.

And three color wheels.


From left to right, these are:

  1. The approximate color I would use to color a human being.
  2. De-saturated pure red (pink)
  3. The magenta-ish color that most girls’ toys are swathed in.

Looking at the first two wheels, you should notice that the hue for the first is orange, while the second is pure red.

I don’t actually know how I can explain this more. Pink is de-saturated red. The skin color is quite clearly de-saturated orange– not pink.  That is evidence and objective fact.

Now, the third wheel is more subjective and less reliable, but I do think it’s worth mentioning that that color is a far cry from the color of the first two, which fucks up Ben’s reasoning that much more.

Ben also apparently makes the claim that doll-skin-color is closer to pink than any other primary color, so we might as well just call it pink. 

It should be pretty damn obvious that pink is not a primary color. Magenta is though, and I’m going to pretend that that’s what he meant (though I doubt it was.)

So going by the Cyan-Magenta-Yellow color model, let’s see where that Caucasian color falls.

Hmm. That sure is a really yellow pink.

One final note: Yes, of course pink can be detected on light skin tones, on flushed cheeks for instance. This isn’t pigment, but the result of the amounts of blood flow in different parts of the body. As far as I know, dolls can only piss themselves; not simulate blood flow. They might be given red or pink cheeks to mimic this (as if they were wearing blush), but that small amount of pinkness doesn’t make the whole damn doll pink.

One other final note: I don’t really think that this is the biggest problem with his argument. I could talk on length about how he’s wrong about toy stores not trying to force pink onto girls- toy stores actually tell toy manufacturers that they’ll buy more of a product for girls if it’s pink. I could mention how girls are tricked/manipulated into buying certain toys by commercials, segregated toy aisles, etc. that make claims about what’s for girls and what’s for boys. I could point out how being a little girl and going into the boys’ aisle or being a little boy and going into the girls’ aisle isn’t exactly easy. I could say that there wouldn’t be this problem if toy stores didn’t try to say “this is for boys” and “this is for girls”, and I could say how that is what the girl is complaining about. She understands that she can go into the boys’ aisle, and what she’s asking is why are they even making a point about saying that one thing is for girls and one is for boys? That’s the problem. She doesn’t hate pink (and neither does everyone tearing Ben an asshole necessarily, and I found it amusing that he claims that a woman with bright pink hair is saying that all girls who like pink have been brainwashed.) , what she hates is that she’s being told that she likes pink, and princesses, and dolls. And then Ben says things like “Of course marketing and advertising is going to feature pink toys (since many girls prefer pink-whether it’s genetic, cultural, or both is another matter) and girls playing with dolls and princesses. Most TV commercials don’t depict girls playing with gender-stereotyped male toys […] since girls prefer dolls” which shows that he’s missing the god damned point completely.

Girls do not innately prefer any of those things he says they do. People saying that they do is the goddamned problem. Toys aisles aren’t segregated because of the things children like- Children are told what they like by the toy aisles. That’s what the girl is complaining about.

I felt I should just bring all of this up along with my color wheels, since it’s important to mention.

But damn does talking about color wheels give me less of a headache.


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