Well, not so new actually. Apparently, according to a book review read along the way, baby girls’ rooms decorated in blue were all the rage before the first world war, and a baby boy dressed in pink was the norm. It’s an intriguing thought; that a daily reality we treat as fact might be viewed as the wrong way round in an earlier age. The international SlutWalk phenomenon with all its controversy has finally hit South Africa. While pondering my own point of view on the great divide between the ‘proud to be a slut’ and the ‘keep your slut word to yourself’ brigades, I came upon Joanne Hichens’ thoughtful riposte to the ‘common sisterhood’ line of argument (Cape Times, Aug 29, 2011). And that got me thinking about the whole pink debate. There’s an organisation in the UK that has its knickers in a knot (some might say) over little girls dressed in pink from top-to-toe, playing with pink toy ponies, riding pink bicycles etc. These strong women have devoted themselves to convincing politicians, business moguls and unaware parents that it’s best to avoid pink for the nation’s daughters, thereby challenging society’s views on little girls who are only supposed to like sugar and spice and everything nice (aside: my first memory of pink for girls was pink candy floss; the boys got blue) and encouraging the girls themselves to avoid being pigeon-holed. Could it be ‘slut’ is a pigeon-hole just like the colour pink? To paraphrase Hichens we not only have to challenge the attitudes men have towards women, but also have to discuss attitudes women have towards themselves and their sexuality. Odd thing is I disliked pink growing up, but these days I have plenty of pink items in my wardrobe. Does that make me less or more of a feminist? Have I perhaps come out on the other side as a fully liberated human being who wears pink and blue with equal abandon?
PS. Read ‘In the pink’ on MercatorNet for an interesting viewpoint on the link between breast cancer and reproductive risk factors, including oral contraceptives and induced abortion.