I’ve always been into music, but then again who hasn’t? No one has a better music taste than you. If you are going to listen to music though, you will need some kind of device that will allow you to play the music. When I was growing up there wasn’t a small device that would fit in your pocket so I had to resort to buying the best stereo
my parents would get me I could afford. The type of stereo mattered immensely, I wanted subwoofers, cool equaliser lights and striking colours, There were a few stereo types that fit the bill. You could go for the LG CM4360 230W, the Panasonic SC-AKX400E or even the Philips FX10. What you couldn’t go for though, especially if you were a man is the Pioneer X-CM56D, because it was pink.
The other stereo types I mentioned also had colours but thankfully they were masculine colours like red, blue and black. That made them socially acceptable for boys to use. And it is a great system;* whereby we tell children what colours they should be associating with and then stigmatise them if they don’t follow these arbitrary social rules. That is because, as we know, the world will end if different sexes associate with the ‘wrong’ colour.
It has always been that way though, colours have been stuck to people since they were born and throughout human history, it has always been blue for boys and pink for girls. Apart from the time when it wasn’t – obviously. If you go back as far as 1918, almost 100 years exactly, the ‘Earnshaws’ Infants Department wrote:
“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
We shall glaze over the preconceived gender roles in the quote and just focus on the points which will validate my point – colours can be attached to any gender we like. Or to put it a better way; why don’t we just all let people wear whatever colour they want?
If you have read this far you won’t be surprised to hear that I like pink. I like it a lot, in fact, I would go so far as to say it is my favourite ray that reflects off things. I don’t wear it a lot nor do I have a lot of things that are pink though and that is largely due to the murmuring stigma that is associated with a man wanting pink things.
This is starting to sound like I want everything to be pink and I want to live in a pink world – that isn’t entirely true. But I did want some pink trainers/sneakers/tackies/runners this weekend and that desire was met with shock by the people around me. ‘It looks like you’ve stolen your girlfriends’ shoes’ and ‘thank god they don’t have your size’. The disdain filled the air and needless to say I didn’t get any pink trainers, although that was only because they didn’t have my size.
These colours though are so ingrained from a young age for absolutely no reason at all that it made me feel slightly bad for wanting pink trainers, and that is the worst thing of all. I understand people are persecuted around the world for expressing their sexuality or stepping outside of imposed gender norms but I shouldn’t feel bad for wanting pink trainers.
When rich countries in the west don’t want to spend money in poor countries they say people in those countries need to educate themselves. And whilst education is key, the idea that people can self-educate themselves out of a situation while worrying about rape, starvation, war, religious oppression and many other things, is at best, naive.
It is also a bit rich* because we rarely educate ourselves on emerging issues. Who actively educates themselves on the issues of gender and sex? Most people in the western world won’t even know the difference between the terms gender and sex. Sex being, largely determined by your hormones, genitalia and genes. Gender being societal norms attributed to you because of your genitals. It still isn’t that simple though, especially as out of 1 in every 1,500 births the sex of a child cannot be determined. An intersex child is born with a mix of both genitalia and the sex, therefore, has to be chosen by the parent(s). Not so binary after all. Then you have the chromosome problem, whereby some men are born with 2 or even 3 X chromosomes and some women have the Y chromosome. In fact most people will go through their live and never know which chromosomes they have exactly.
Don’t get me started on the psychological impact of imposing gender roles from a young age. Just take the example of attitudes to children, whereby girls are treated as vulnerable snowflakes and boys are allowed to roam and explore, which has huge impacts on them later in life. And for any doubters about the validity and impacts that are derived from this study, it was conducted concurrently in 15 countries over a 4 year period in conjunction with the World Health Organisation.
That is why lumping people into two categories and just telling them to live with it doesn’t quite work. Especially as me wearing pink trainers doesn’t affect anyone else in anyway whatsoever. Whilst we are on the subject of shoes though, the high heel shoe, so commonly associated with women, was in fact, invented for, and worn by, middle-class men. Women stole the concept and ran with it (in a very awkward and funny way) – typical women, can’t create anything for themselves.*
More importantly though, and with my pink shoes aside, people lose their life over things like this. For you, it may mean using a different pronoun, or accepting that people wear different colours or that the science shows quite clearly the line between male and female is not as simply defined as you might like.
Just ask Caster Semenya, the female Olympic champion, who has female genitalia but has the genetics and hormones similar to the male sex. This has meant she has been vilified for something she had no control over, with fellow athletes calling for her to be banned altogether. They want her banned because they say it gives her an unfair advantage, which is like me saying I want every mens 100 meters runner banned because their far superior genetical makeup is a massively unfair advantage over my mediocre genetical makeup.
Whilst these things certainly put things in context, I am sure Caster would sympathise with me regarding my pink shoes, not to mention my Pioneer X-CM56D. The colour, clothes and things you buy are largely shaped by gender roles which are entirely defined by other people. Not only are they a complete fabrication, they are entirely pointless and cost people their lives. For me, it was just a bit of joking about pink shoes but for others, it results in a miserable life. We lament humans for being so sheep-like, but when someone wants to be a unicorn we chastise them. We need to break these pointless gender stereotypes and petition Schuh to restock some pink Adidas Campus trainers in size 9.5.
*It is not.
*In every way possible.