Yes, Pink.

Apparently the color scheme of at least one bloggernacle site is enough to deter workplace browsing. John F. writes that he cannot visit Feminist Mormon Housewives while at work, because “ I feel nervous about a fellow associate walking in (or a partner, for that matter) and seeing the hot pink and knowing what they are wondering.

Yikes. Is pink really such a threatening color? Do pallette choices really cause people to . . . wonder? And about what? (Let me clarify here — John may be simply refering to some kind of “non-work” wondering — i.e., that FMH looks a lot less work-related than, and so the associate will be sure that John is goofing off. But it also seems possible to read this as a statement that John is afraid that people will question his masculinity if he is browsing a hot-pink website. I’m going to address the latter concern here, though his comment is sufficiently ambiguous that it could be that his concern is the former.)

[UPDATE — John makes clear in his comment that he was mostly concerned about avoiding the appearance of p*rn, which makes a lot of sense. Sometimes I miss the obvious answers.]

Well, in honor of John Fowles, I am wearing a pink shirt today at work. I’m also wearing a pink tie. No pink socks, though. I don’t own any. And I must say, I’m of the belief that sartorial pallette choices don’t need to be viewed as statements about masculinity or femininity or whatever else. In fact, I find assertions to the contrary to be pretty silly.

I find such assertions to be sufficiently silly that I briefly flirted with the idea of changing this site’s technical “style sheet” file, to give the site a nice hot-pink schema. I’m not going to, for reasons of consensus (I doubt the group would all go along) as well as my own technical limitations (I really hate working with style sheets). But with a little more provocation, who knows?

But let me ask — am I misreading John and others, or is there an attitude that men shouldn’t wear, view, or otherwise associate with pink or pinkness. [UPDATE: Yep, I was. Ahh well.]

And is my own response wrong? Is pink really a [female/gay/communist/whatever] color? Should I dash home and excise all pink from my wardrobe? Remember, this is important.

24 comments for “Pink

  1. A. Greenwood
    February 15, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    I resent you taking potshots at John Fowles in posts like this. It’s really unfair for you to excerpt a comment of his and make it the centerpiece of a front and center attack.

    This isn’t the first time you’ve done it, either.
    Get over it.

  2. Kevin Barney
    February 15, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    I understood the expressed concern to be that it might seem to a casual observer who happened to walk by his computer to have the appearance of a porn site.

  3. lyle
    February 15, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    Kaimi: I think your pink t-shirt idea is great, but it would only be appropriate if it was a Pink Pistols T-Shirt. Don’t you agree?

  4. john fowles
    February 15, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    Haha. You were more accurate in the “non-work” wondering on the part of my associates. But, actually, you don’t have to have email very long to realize, based on the p*rn spam (admittedly, I don’t get any of this anymore, thank goodness, but four or five years ago my inbox was constantly inundated with p*rn spam) that can show up there, and if you have Outlook set on display so that you see the body of an email, that some p*rn sites look, well, similar to FMH: hot pink and black. That is actually what I was referring to–not to insecurities with my own masculinity, just a desire to avoid having my co-workers think that I am looking at p*rn! (But, to be honest, I don’t own any pink dress shirts, although I think they are pretty stylin’.)

  5. john fowles
    February 15, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    But to be fair, I once considered buying a pink dress shirt but a male friend of mine dissuaded me, assuring me that people would think I was gay. I doubted his analysis, but he was a pretty stylin’ guy, so I didn’t buy the shirt.

  6. Rosalynde Welch
    February 15, 2005 at 1:36 pm

    Kaimi, I think John was simply trying to avoid the appearance of evil: I’m guessing that he was probably more concerned that the color would suggest something racy than something feminine. Knowing John, I can vouch that he is neither chauvinist nor bigoted against pink and pinkness; I’m sure he’d have nothing more than a stylistic disinclination to wearing pink himself. I admire his resolution to avoid the appearance of evil in the workplace.

  7. Kaimi
    February 15, 2005 at 1:36 pm


    That makes sense, and the possibility of p*rn sites hadn’t even occurred to me, I must admit. But now that you mention it, it makes perfect sense. Sorry for calling you out on a non-issue, and thanks for being gracious about it.

    And should we ever institute a pink schema around here, we’ll make sure to have alternative options (“skins” as they’re popularly known), so that your employer won’t think you’re looking at p*rn.

  8. Kaimi
    February 15, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve updated the post to reflect John’s sensible commentary.

  9. Lisa F.
    February 15, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    Agreed — this sort of response to John F. is one reason why I hesitate to comment at T&S. I worry that someone will take a phrase and slice it to pieces. I understood what John meant ( I took it like Kevin B. did), smiled about it, and figured he would have to check our FMH after hours. I don’t think Lisa at FMH would mind — she would probably laugh out loud and go on.

    When we read each other without body language, especially facial expressions and vocal tones and timbres, it is very easy to misunderstand. And, too often, take offense where none was meant.

    Pink on men is gorgeous.

  10. James M
    February 15, 2005 at 1:45 pm

    Pink can’t be a gay color…Don Johnson wore it on Miami Vice.

  11. Kaimi
    February 15, 2005 at 1:47 pm

    Wow — did everyone except me understand that he was refering to racy sites? I’m a little embarrassed.

    On the other hand, I’m also feeling kind of reassured. Making a mistaken interpretation in part because I don’t know how to identify racy websites isn’t such a bad thing, either.

  12. Bill
    February 15, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    I had a pink tie on my mission that I would often wear to zone conferences.

  13. Bryce I
    February 15, 2005 at 2:14 pm

    My two-year old son likes to dress up in his sisters’ pink ballerina and jazz dance outfits.

    The first tie I ever bought was pink paisley (at age 13, I believe). I still have it.

    This post was a bit of a cheap shot, as has been mentioned.

  14. lyle
    February 15, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    and it seems to have moved from the first thread of the day to yesterdays. burying as apology? :)

  15. February 15, 2005 at 5:08 pm

    I remember once growing up that John, utterly disgusted at the pink walls in our sister’s room, purposely threw black paint all over the walls just to rid the blight of pink. Be honest, John- you just hate pink!

    OK, I’m kidding. But if John did hate pink, where would the harm in that be? (Besides the fact that his niece would be very sad that “uncle growly” hates her favorite color- or was it “uncle slappy”?) To each his own, I say.

    For me, personally, pink shirts are fine, a little “metro” perhaps, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Hey- maybe we should start a new weekly column somewhere called “New York (mormon) Eye for the Utah (mormon) Guy. (Note: that is not “Utah Mormon,” but Utah (mormon).)

  16. February 15, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    I am of the belief that the color pink is very much associated with the gay community.
    I’m not saying that I have associated pink with gays myself, but that I have come to understand that many gays associate pink with themselves.

    I used to work at a retail store that sold hats. According to my owner, our rather masculine – but pink – sports caps were specifically marketed towards gays. I had no idea.

  17. john fowles
    February 15, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    Jordan, maybe “Blue State Eye for the Red State Guy” would be better.

  18. February 16, 2005 at 1:35 am

    P*rn sites are pink? You’d think since they’re catering to men they’d be not so much interested in pinkness . . .

    Sorry, I don’t have much experience viewing p*rn so I just can’t tell you how much my site looks like a p*rn dive. I never did get that kind of spam . . . and I’m glad.

    And isn’t purple the gay color, as in triangles and that poor purple teletubbie, the purse packin’ Po, wasn’t he? And rainbows of course. I love rainbows. And Rainbows with pink and purple clouds. And it seems like there should be a unicorn in the picture somewhere.

  19. February 16, 2005 at 1:41 am

    The Nazis apparently thought pink was a “gay color.” As far as I can tell, judging from the flags on selected buildings (e.g. the Stonewall Project) in Columbus’ Gaslamp district and the signs outside the “Out of the Closet” chain of thrift stores in southern California, the community itself prefers a rainbow, for symbolic reasons, but also demonstrates a minor preference for pink when flamboyance is appropriate. And, the Stonewall Project I just referenced also publishes the “Lavender Listings,” so…

    The things that most of the gay men I knew at Disneyland seemed to use as an indication of their identity included a variety of cartoon characters and other goofy things on pajama pant bottoms (which they frequently wore in informal situations.) It was pretty much the same thing some junior high school age girls seem to do — “oh, look at me, I’m so sweet and cute and funny” — but without any of the desperate “please please please tell me I look grown up” stuff (does anyone else find 12 year olds who check their makeup in the mirrors in the church restrooms every twenty minutes to be both annoying and amusing?)

    As to pink’s “girliness” — IIRC, a few years back the founders of the Purple Moon software company (which purported at its founding to be the first company setting out to make video games that girls would like to play) did a survey of elementary school boys and discovered that purple is far more of a girly color than pink could dream of being (that’s why they named the company what they did.) You can get an insanely scientific view of the whole issue here, with more general color preference stuff here.

    As for myself… as a child I convinced my father to paint all of my hard-wood, beautifully finished furniture (bed, large table, bookcase, desk, and bedside table) in a color of pink that perfectly matched Pepto Bismal. I think that being surrounded by all that pink for all those years is why I now prefer purple and green. ^_^ You couldn’t catch me dead in pink — though I have a pair of lavender pants, I never wear them in public and rarely even to sleep in — but a couple of the teachers and one of the priests in my ward wear pink ties every Sunday.

  20. lyle
    February 16, 2005 at 8:21 am

    Pink & Purple Lisa…although you are right, they are part of a “rainbow” coalition.

  21. gst
    February 16, 2005 at 10:21 am

    Pink is a perfectly fine, conservative color for a dress shirt. Ask Wm. F. Buckley.

  22. Bryce I
    February 16, 2005 at 10:21 am

    Lisa, that was Tinky-Winky. Po is red. Come on, you call yourself a mom? :)

  23. February 16, 2005 at 10:28 am

    Sorry, my kids were asleep when I posted so I couldn’t ask the experts. I just asked the four-year-old and she has confirmed it. Tinky Winky . . . which probably only stregthened whoit’s rejection of the poor fellow, what with tinky winky sounding to me a lot like a euphamism for . . . um . . .well . . . you know.

  24. Janea
    November 3, 2005 at 9:07 pm

    Pink is a great color and real “MEN” wear Pink.!

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