Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Case For Pink

A lot of women hate pink. I am one of them.

Pink represents traditional gender roles. Pink represents segregation. It's that Pepto Bismol ghetto in the toy store where all of the Barbies and incontinent baby dolls hang out. It's that horrible dress you wish your Aunt hadn't bought you. It's froo froo and poodles and cheap perfume and Mary Kay ladies.

When I talk about the "pink ghetto" sometimes, my complaint is largely that it is a place where boys (and certain girls) won't go, largely because of the aforementioned connotations. I don't like the fact that I, as a girl, felt perfectly comfortable walking down the aisles with 4x4 trucks and action figures, but that it would've been a crippling taboo for my straight male hairdresser to have walked down the pink aisle to look at a hairdressing-related toy, as a boy. I think someday, men need to be liberated, too. But, that's not what I'm here to complain about today.

I frequently hear women game developers complain that something is "too pink," or "too girly." They complain that they hate pink things or girly things, and behave every bit as much as though they cannot comprehend that anyone else on the planet could possibly like them. A friend of mine was horrified when her little girl wanted to wear frilly dresses.

Let me tell you something: There are girly girls out there, and there's nothing wrong with them. They aren't traitors against feminism. They aren't 1950s housewives. They aren't weak. They aren't stupid. My younger sister -- who played with Barbies, Strawberry Shortcake, and My Little Pony, as a young girl -- is a Lead Programmer, a mother, and a gamer. Women don't need to belong to the tomboy's club to be cool. Women who like pink aren't unworthy of my breath, my time, my consideration, and my marketing.

I've seen pink game consoles, pink hand-helds, pink toolsets, fictional pink case mods... all kinds of things. And I say, make more. When I was a teenager, I had a pink skateboard. Yeah, I hate pink. But -- you must understand -- pink is the grand territorial pissing of the female. The boys who so cheerfully tried to run off with our bicycles over the years didn't dare abscond with my skateboard. Pink says, "Damn it, this is MINE." A girl's brother will not fight with her over her pink Gameboy. He won't tell her it's for boys. He has no power over the pink. It renders him entirely toothless in his competition for resources.

Many years ago, when I was a young thing, I was at the county fair, and a bunch of folks were down on one end of the field, launching model rockets. Being the consummate geek girl that I was, I wandered over to see what was going on. There was only one woman there. She had a collection of beautiful rockets, all subversively airbrushed in pink and lavender. I remember thinking, "That's the coolest woman on earth."

Old Comments


Miriam English said...

This is brilliant! Thanks for posting such cool thoughts.

I'd often thought about how men are trapped and disadvantaged by their sexism just as much as women are. Societies where women are still owned by their men and can be traded beaten or killed with impunity are obviously bad for the women, but also bad for the men. They are giving themselves a very raw deal, missing out on the other half of fertile imaginations, and the thrill of being equal partners on life's great exploration.

I am not a pink person. I tended to spurn such things. I'm a very sloppy geek person -- a gadget person. So it came as a delightful surprise to me when you showed how pink could be used as being a way to defend against boys. :) Wonderful!

Thank you.

osg said...


I too deter theft by sporting pink handle-bar tape on my expensive, commuter road-bike!

Thanks for cheering me up!

Also, I own a skateboard and am in my 30s. :) Your post inspires me to jump on it again.