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Why Would I Wear This?: Pink EVERYTHING Edition

Oh goodie, the 2012 Honorary Bat Girl Contest is here!  Before you read any further, just click on that link and look at it for a second.  Pink bats; pink MLB logo; pink text and borders and backgrounds; and they even have the gall to use a Phillies player!!! (Kidding about that last one…well, sort of.)

Just what I always wanted!

Three reasons why I hate pink-washing in sports:

1) I am a baseball fan; don’t treat me differently because I’m also female.  Sports fans are said to bleed their teams colors; do I bleed pink because I’m female?  No!  I bleed blue and orange like every other Mets fan.  I appreciate that MLB is trying to include female fans by giving them an opportunity to be batgirls, but the effort is dubious.  Batboys wear the same uniform that players wear, so why does a batgirl event need to be a shrine of pink?  And why can’t there just be a contest to be a batperson?

Over at Sociological Images they’ve covered needless gendering of products almost ad nauseum (including a really interesting post yesterday about cross-cultural differences in the meaning pink is assigned), and pink bats and jerseys are yet another example of this.

Pink is loaded with cultural meaning; it signifies femininity and being lady-like, and reinforces stereotypical gender roles.  And if you take your cues from the media, sports are masculine.  They’re what you watch in your mancave, and why you sneak out from a night in with your wife to go hang with your bros.  So when I see MLB “catering” to female sports fans by pink-washing their entire website, I see that they’re doing nothing to dispel these myths.  Instead I hear the message:  “You’re not really a fan, but we want to include you, so we’re going to make a special day for you using a color palate you can understand.”

2) I get that part of the pink-washing is they’re tying in breast cancer awareness.  Well, thanks but I’m all too aware of breast cancer’s existence.  And guess what:  the color pink isn’t going to cure breast cancer.  I know some people believe the ends justify the means, and whatever gets people to give money to the general cause should be supported.  But first, I’d rather give money to a research organization than an awareness organization, and second, according to a study discussed in Sociological Images’ post “Breast Cancer Marketing Has a Pink Problem,” the pinkification of breast cancer awareness is actually doing more harm than good.  The study found that “when women were exposed to gender cues, like the color pink, they were less likely than women who had not been primed with a gender cue to think that they might someday get breast cancer and to say that they’d be willing to donate to the cause.  Pink, in other words, decreased both their willingness to fund research and the seriousness with which women took the disease.”  Pinkification of the cause also alienates men, who are conditioned to be averse to pink.

I’m glad that baseball and the other sports want to do something to honor breast cancer survivors and raise money for the cause, but there’s no reason why they can’t do that using normal team colors.  And there’s no reason why encouraging female fan participation in a sport played by men should only be in the context of saving their breasts.

3) If you click through to the “Buy a Pink Bat” page, you’ll see that $10 of $69.99 purchase price goes to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  As you might remember from a month ago, however, the Susan G. Komen Foundation sucks.  As we all now know, Susan G. Komen is much too concerned with lending their brand to chemical-filled perfumes and guns and removing funding from clinics that offer affordable mammogram screenings to actually help find a cure or encourage early detection of the disease.

So please, enough already with the pink-washing.

6 comments on “Why Would I Wear This?: Pink EVERYTHING Edition

  1. That’s a really fascinating point about women developing an aversion to a cause due to its use of gender cues. A blog that I frequent as part of the Discovery Blog family called Gene Expression did a piece on the use of baby blue as the “color” for prostate cancer about 2 years ago. In addition to wearing pink and using pink equipment for breast cancer awareness on Mother’s Day, many baseball players opt to use baby blue equipment on Father’s Day for prostate cancer awareness. The GE blogger pointed out that while a ton of money is raised league-wide (equipment is signed and auctioned off, a portion of ticket proceeds go to research institutions, and MLB matches any donations from individual players), the goal of “awareness” is not successfully achieved.

    For starters, that hue of blue is perceived by our brains as being benign, making it difficult to develop an accurate association between the color and the horrific disease. This serves to desensitize spectators. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same were true about the particular hue of pink used here. Additionally, since professional athletes are generally on the south side of 50 (Jamie Moyer is piping up somewhere in Arizona as I type this), many people have an issue developing an association between these blue-clad athletes in the prime of their lives and a life-threatening disease that mostly afflicts men over the age of 50. Perhaps there is a similar issue with developing an association between the athletes of a sport being entirely male (in the current MLB, anyway) and a disease that is known to afflict a disproportionate number of females relative to males.

    I’ve always appreciated professional baseball and football’s charitable donations toward these causes, but I’ve also always felt as though there was something amiss with the marketing of the pink and baby blue gear. This post goes a long way in helping me figure out where to take issue with these campaigns.

  2. Also, this reminded me of my hero, Riley, and her rant on toy marketing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CU040Hqbas

  3. [...] You can see the entire gallery on their Facebook page.  Best of all?  Not all the sports bras are pink. Pin It Tags: breast cancer awareness, FIFA, sports bra, World Cup, WPS [...]

  4. I’m guilty of the whole “pink is for girls” thing because Pink is my favorite color but I also like green, blue, and black. Those aren’t feminine colors at all. I don’t like that girls get to be the batgirl once a year. I feel like if they’re going to do it, do it every other game. I hate that sports teams think its okay to give girls one game at doing something. That’s not fair at all. If they’re trying to accomplish equality they need to do that then. Also they should let the girls wear a jersey just like the original batboy would. Don’t give them a different outfit because they aren’t a boy. For breast cancer awareness, I think the batBOY should have to wear pink too. I like how they do the different ribbons for the different types of cancer. I think that people shouldn’t only focus on breast cancer. I think there should be a different cancer awareness every month.

  5. [...] Daniel and RA, and pretty much pick a day at a Mets game over any other leisure activity.  No pink jerseys or gratuitous sexualization, Katie Casey and Nelly Kelly perfectly embody my vision of the female [...]

  6. [...] about the color?  All I should care about is my tennis game right?  But at the same time, as we know, hot pink sports equipment is more than just light receptors in your eyes.  Pink is girly, girly [...]

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