Does wearing the colour pink make me weak?
Recently, I was tagged into a Facebook post made by newspaper journalist about how women allow themselves to be in abusive relationships and the colour pink is a big factor. I had to re-read it a couple of times to get the essence of what she was trying to communicate. My helicopter view of her piece is that she showed an irritating narrow mindedness that compelled me to write this essay.
For reference, here is the link to the newspaper piece. <a>goo.gl/NbhEU6</a>
The author makes a pertinent point about the justification that some women allow in a slowly developing abusive relationship, however, I feel she becomes off topic when the starts the ‘pink’ talk, and the ‘girls don’t have to try hard in sport’ talk, making the article long and ambiguous.
Why do I feel it is off point?
Many people who know me now, refer to me as the ‘Pink Lady’ however, I was not a pink girl at all. Nor a sporty girl. At age 10, my role model was Suzi Quatro. She was polar opposite to pink and that was exciting to me to my grandmother’s horror. Her only granddaughter had already quit 3 years of ballet and was positively allergic to elegant musical instruments such as the piano or flute she so desperately wanted me to learn, and rejected the girly clothing she tried to buy for me. The only way I could successfully emulate Suzi was to not wear a skirt which I successfully achieved for a whole 3 months. Leather was beyond my parent’s budget. Black jeans it was!
Formal sport wasn’t pursued either. My parents had met at a gliding club, so many a weekend was spent there and I eventually learned to fly (because it was expected) at age 15 but ditched the pilot’s seat pretty quickly as it wasn’t my interest. Yes, there was competition however, it was more a feeling of camaraderie amongst comp pilots.
Then, a boy at high school got me involved in cycling in my last year of school and I became a competitive cyclist, on road and track. A couple of years into the sport and it was time for a new custom made road bike. This was in the early 80’s when the fluro colours started to gain traction. Instead of the customary bike colours of red, green or blue, I decided my frame colour was to be Hot Pink. It was more a rebellious move against the establishment that stifled cycling (until triathlon gave it a nudge in the late 80’s). We HAD to wear black woollen knicks for road racing. We were allowed to wear lycra on the track but one way to get a commissaire all hot and bothered was to dare wear a pair of knicks that had a coloured band down the side of the leg greater than 6 inches. I also wore my hair short and had a tail that had stripes bleached into it. My radical look probably was not what a potential sponsor looked for and I missed out on such offerings that were starting to be given to the girls. I might have won races and was athletic but I was a rebel.
Being a female cyclist back then was tough. We would always have enough girls/ladies to have our own divisions (also being subdivided into A and B grade reflecting the amount of females at at weekly racing). But we were still treated with disdain by many and respected by few. It was a tough gig that saw me get through 3 nationals before bowing out to needing to study for my sports science degree. However, I had gained a thick skin which I still have to this day, courtesy of cycling.
Nearly 20 years pass by for me without giving pink even a cursory glance.
Then, a business is started in the incredibly male dominated sport of inline skating. Yes, lots of ladies recreationally skated but it in more specific disciplines such as aggressive skating and speed skating, the boys dominated meaning that associated products were aimed at them. As a female in this business, I had to start to stand out, away from this dominance. So while not being rebellious this time around, it was more a “hey, I’m tired of being a chick in a blokes world” ethos, so anything pink within skating was grabbed with a loving embrace. New speed skates? Pink. I even painted the frame pink. I even used pink wheels even though they were the wrong durometer for my level of skating..who cared..THEY WERE PINK! Then a reputation was developed. I became known as the Pink Lady. Speed skate manufacturers started to cater to women speed skaters with their own line and colour way of skin suits rather than having to squeeze into ill fitting, baggy crotched skinsuits. Hats, helmets, bags, hey, even wristguards appeared in pink! Bring it on. I couldn’t get enough.
But did pink change me as a person? Did it make me …’weak’?
Ask an ex customer. Mr Bully Boy took me on once in the shop. It was his only modus operandi. The guy was being a jerk and at one stage, I thought he was going to hit me. My employee had to leave the front of the shop as it was getting very ugly. Mr BB didn’t know that under my pink shirt, I have an ability to deal with bullies. I rise to the occasion. (Admittently, not pleasant situations I go looking for, but happy to take ‘em on on the odd occasion they occur. ) This Pink Lady deflated the vile excuse for a human being when she asked him to “take his business elsewhere”.
Did wearing pink make me afraid to loudly yell “Get your hands off me NOW” at the guy who grabbed my backside on the train?
Have I ever been in an abusive relationship?
It wasn’t part of my upbringing. Why would I bring that patterning into my personal life? Perhaps this is where the author is missing the point..it’s not the colours we wear..its the upbringing?
Have I ever been associated with domestic violence?
Yes, but in a roundabout way.
I met a fella looking for a new flatmate. My intuition said it wouldn’t be a good move, however, we became friends due to both of us having motorbikes. Eventually, he met a lady who I became friends with as well. He was a fun person to have around but I saw glimmers of something deep and dark and unresolved. A night of his over the top jealousy and his wife’s short life was over. Her body stuffed into a boot of a car for nearly 3 weeks while he pleaded on national TV that she had ‘run-away’ and to come home. Thats the closest I’ve come to domestic violence.
Recently, there was a doco on SBS about the differences between male and female brains. They showed monkeys reactions to toys being left in their environment. The girl monkeys picked up dolls and the boy monkeys picked up trucks. Are they ‘sold ’the idea of their gender only being interested in certain things when they were wee bubs riding on mums back?
Yes, agreed, there is a marketing aspect to pink for girls and blue for boys that was introduced around the 1930’s to make parents spend more money on baby clothes, etc. But how was that determined? For girls, maybe there is a certain attraction to the colour pink. And why do boys know that certain hues of the colour blue are, according to them, a ‘girl blue’?
Being involved in the skate industry saw us exposed to the scooter craze. All of a sudden, boys were identifying with a sub culture that appealed to them and part of that was a rebellious nature that emerged. Some of the boys were quite happy to wear pink helmets (Ok, it was hot pink), pink components and pink grip tape. It was mortifying. Only to their parents who couldn’t understand.
Has my pink phase come to standstill? Maybe not, but my last pair of custom speed skates are mainly blue, with just a hint of pink on one strap, so anyone can read into that whatever they want.
Oh, since I still ride a bike occasionally on the road, I try to wear at least one pink item. Why? Apparently, car drivers will take a wider berth around female cyclists.
And is the blue of my speed skates ‘girl’ blue?
I’m not sure, but who cares.
I like it.