Bad Feminist

Not “girl” or “boy” scrapbooking papers — just paper

More stories from Rebecca Mennecke

Over spring break, my mom and I visited this really nifty little scrapbooking store in Minnesota. While there, I noticed a whole section of bright pink papers with cute princess designs, unicorns, cupcakes and all kinds of “girly” things. Across from it were what I called the “boy papers” — hunter green and navy blue colors, ships, dinosaurs, camping and all the typically boyish things.

When I mentioned to my mom how the store had a cool section designated specifically for men, she asked me why I called this section the one with “boy papers.”

And, boy, did I have to think about that one.

There is absolutely, positively, nothing that says that cupcakes are girly and dinosaurs are boyish, or that unicorns are for girls and camping is for boys. My mom was totally right: why did I call the section with the blues and greens the “boy paper” section?

So, of course, you know me. I had to go check out where I would get wild beliefs like that.

It’s unsurprising that scrapbooking itself is a highly gendered activity. According to the University of Colorado Boulder, women dominate the craft of scrapbooking because it is a means to “shape and express her identity.”

Scrapbooking came to be associated with women and households as an example of shining domesticity, according to the website.

It makes sense that scrapbooks would have to be gendered boy and girl: it maintains the systems that have kept women in the kitchen and men in corporate jobs. Women have their roles, and men have theirs.

Or so it goes.

In this new age, I’m wondering if it’s really necessary to have the distinction between “boy papers” and “girl papers.”

I understand the want to organize papers by category, but “girl” and “boy” do not have to be the way we organize things like crafting supplies. Cupcake paper can be filed with other food papers. Outdoor papers can be put together. Dinosaur paper can be put with the unicorn paper, along with all the other animals.

In fact, that kind of organization makes more sense to me. There’s no way to know what precisely makes a paper a “girl” paper or what precisely makes a paper a “boy” paper. Who decided cupcakes are girly? I, for one, am not really a big fan of cupcakes. I’d take the dinosaurs any day.

Organizing papers by type — rather than by gender — makes a whole lot more sense to me.

It also encourages men to take up the hobby of scrapbooking too. Memory keeping shouldn’t be an exclusively female activity.

So you can bet the next time I go to a scrapbooking store, I won’t be talking about the “girl” papers and the “boy” papers — I’ll be heading straight for the weird animal papers. Mennecke can be reached at [email protected].