In the Pink, by Elayne Riggs
I visited my mom’s house for Mother’s Day, which always seems to include watching baseball, as Mom and I are both fans of the game. No, honest, this isn’t another column about sports! It’s about pink.
You see, every year on Mother’s Day, Major League Baseball provides its teams with pink bats, pink ribbons and so forth. It’s all Komen-driven, of course. The Susan G. Komen Foundation has become the country’s largest breast cancer charity due largely to its habit of painting things pink.
And so we watched not only pink bats, but pink-ringed bases and pink home plates and pink wrist bands and pink caps in the crowd and Jose Reyes even had pink shoelaces for the occasion. It was, as always, very cool. It would have been even nicer if the Mets announcers had actually noted the real reason for the pink; instead, the disappointingly misogynist Keith Hernandez said it was for Mother’s Day. ‘Cause, uh, Moms like pink, I guess, Keith? Seriously, do you know the difference between "for" Mother’s Day and "on" Mother’s Day at all?
I was surprised to find out that Komen isn’t the only charity focused on pink. Apparently a number of other less reputable places engage in "pink washing," where it’s not as clear where your breast cancer charity money’s actually going. In fact, Breast Cancer Action has a website called Think Before You Pink which reminds folks that "breast cancer is about women’s lives, not a marketing opportunity," and that there are a lot of places riding the bandwagon just to make a profit.
Most of the pink products I see, however, appear to be from Komen’s "Promise Shop." The author the above-mentioned TIME article quotes is right when she notes that shopping pink for a cause is very seductive. They’re right. I love my pink santoku knife so much that I bought one for my Mom too. I’ll deliberately stop at a display stand in Bed, Bath and Beyond or Staples if I see a number of pink products that aren’t ordinarily pink. Do I really need a pink highlighter or Post-It pad? Why, of course not, but the Komen displays are just so… so… cool! I must need it somehow!
Okay, I fib a bit. I don’t automatically buy every cute little pinkish product I see from Komen, although I do ogle most of them. In fact, I’m often torn by this whole pinking thing, because as a second-wave feminist my instinct is to shy away from color coding consumerism. After all, this country (at whose expense other countries are having quite the laugh, by the way) now raises its citizens from birth to believe that "pink is for girls, blue is for boys." Did you know that this wasn’t always the case? Even in the last century, pink was considered the proper hue for boys as it was thought to be the stronger color (in the Christian tradition, red was associated as male, so its "little sibling" pink was used for boys; whereas blue was associated with the Virgin Mary and thus was deemed appropriate for girls). Following the first World War, blue was used extensively for men’s uniforms, and thus became associated as more of a masculine color. From the 1940’s onward, Madison Avenue pushed "think pink" for women. So really, we’re talking about a period of time younger than my Mom! And it’s not only arbitrary but it’s just plain silly. I’m hard-pressed enough to fall for the "dolls are for girls (particularly given how many boys and men collect ‘action figures’) and tools are for boys" nonsense without succumbing to this completely fabricated hue-based biological determinism!
It drives me nuts when I see "women’s auxiliary" sites which feature pink as the colour des femmes, because gearing your site towards, for instance, female travelers featuring practical concerns and such is much harder than simply making your search bar pretty in pink. And getting women interested in home improvement by pink-ifying tool belts and tool kits is just condescending. Unless of course there’s a breast cancer charity involved. (But even then, only 10%?)
I’m mostly torn about all this because, yes, I admit it — pink has been my favorite color since I was a little girl. Oh sure, when I entered my teen years I had my parents repaint my bedroom to lavender (which is, after all, pretty much pink plus blue) because at the time pink seemed just too juvenile. But really, deep down, it’s always been pink. Even today, with a wardrobe in a rainbow of hues, I still think I look best in pink. I think my husband would look good in that color as well. After all, our bathroom is pink, and he’s secure enough in his manhood to use that!
Unfortunately, I don’t think most cats come in pink yet, at least not naturally.
Elayne Riggs blogs here, where the décor is all sorts of orange shades to fool the public. She thinks maybe someday she would like a pink keyboard and mouse. She likes Barry Deutsch’s Hereville in part because that comic features pink as an integral part of its palette.