By Morgan Hopkins
Dear past Morgan,
Way back, long before the days of understanding social constructs, stereotypes and the need to conform to them you received a bike for your 4th birthday. Not just any bike, but the bike of your 4-year- old dreams. It was purple with white tyres, training wheels and the usual attachments. It was one of the sexiest bikes you'd ever laid eyes on (as a 4-year-old).
You see, when you were very young, you were asked what your favourite colours were. You answer was pink and purple. Why? Well, I suppose it’s because pink is bright and playful and purple is dark and mysterious. That just seems like a logical match of oppositional forces, like the yin-yang. I’m sure my four-year-old response went a little something like that.
When you told your parents what your favourite colours were they said 'okay'. When you told that lady at after school care, she corrected you and said, "no, it's red. Red is a boy's colour."
You compliantly said, "Okay." But it wasn't okay and it wasn't your favourite colour, it was pink and purple.
I can understand your excitement when you were gifted with your dream purple bike. Naturally, you wanted to show this bad boy off to all the kids on the block, so you invited them all around to see the awesomeness of your new found swag. As you opened the garage and wheeled out your purple pride and joy the group erupted with laughter, “It’s purple.”
"Well yeah, that’s my favourite colour."
“It’s a girl’s bike.”
"No, it’s my bike?"
They then left without you. They also stopped inviting you out to play. You were hurt and upset. Not because your parents bought you a 'girl’s bike', but because the others didn’t accept you for being different. You didn’t even know that you were different.
You knew mum had a bike and that dad had a bike and you just assumed that they also chose them because of the colour. You didn’t realise that one was built to be structurally and practically superior and the other was made with softer and more comfortable features with a focus on colour and design for marketability. Why was one made for speed and physical exertion and the other designed to maintain the comfort and grace of a princess? Can’t a princess be the hero too?
My point, past Morgan, is that I’m glad mum and dad got us the purple bike. I’m glad they never called it a girl’s bike and forced us into gendered sports that we didn’t want to play. I’m glad they let us get our ear pierced in primary school and taught us that it’s okay to show and share your emotions.
Because without them I probably wouldn’t be able to see through the fragile veil of masculinity that distorts so many people’s perceptions. Perhaps I wouldn’t respect the femininity of the women around me and understand the importance of my girlfriend’s independence. Maybe I wouldn't be the person that I am today without that little purple bike. So thanks mum and dad; and thanks past Morgan for being brave enough to question the norm.