In Defense of Pink

I like pink. I admit it. I know that not all women agree with me, but for me it says something about where I am in my life.

I know there is a lot of talk in the outdoor industry about “pink for women” – not all of it popular talk.
Some think it’s sexist to market pink firearms and gear to women, but I don’t think that’s automatically so. I think it depends upon the motivation behind offering the pink. If the motivation is to create a “pink ghetto” that all women get pigeon-holed into, then that’s wrong and sexist. But if the motivation is simply to offer more choices than black and khaki, then who could have a problem with that?

I’ve analyzed my pink desires and here’s what I’ve come up with for me personally.

I like color and I like “bright” – that’s the first thing. One of my fascinations with sewing – and quilting in particular – is that I get to play with color.  Most firearms are “basic black”, and just as an LBD (Little Black Dress) is supposed to be part of every woman’s wardrobe, an LBP (Little Black Pistol) is sometimes part of mine. Pink provides an outstanding contrast with basic black. Pink and Black go together like strawberries and chocolate! So if adding color to my shooting life makes me happy like strawberries and chocolate, then why shouldn’t I have it?

Another reason I like a splash of pink on the range is simply a recognition of reality. I’ve mentioned before that I just can’t carry off the “Tammy Tactical” style. I look silly. I remind myself of Mulan when she first tried on the armor that is twelve sizes too big for her. So for me, it works to wear a pink T-shirt to help balance out the Carhart cargo pants. I look a little more incongruous that way, but at least it’s not like I’m wearing a “uniform” that doesn’t suit me. The practical part of me also likes that pink baseplates make my dropped magazines easier to find in a gravel or cinder shooting bay.

But the bottom line issue, I think, is rooted in how I grew up. When I was a young girl in the sixties and seventies, growing up with two brothers and three neighbor boys, being a “sissy” was a thing to be avoided at all costs. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a pink bedroom and Barbie dolls, but Barbie dated GI Joe and drove his jeep. I had my own GI Joes, too. In that era, in my family, there was not a lot of respect for anything female – “Women Drivers” were scorned, “Women’s Libbers” were scorned – you get the idea. (And yes, for you younger women out there, it was within my lifetime that girls were “allowed” to wear pants to school, and girls were “allowed” to play Little League.) In my formative years, it didn’t take me long to learn that if I wanted to earn respect from men and boys (and they were the only gender whose respect was really worth anything at the time), I had better avoid the “sissy” label at all costs – and pink was “sissy”. In fact it was the veritable Scarlet Letter of Sissyhood. It was both an overt message and a subconscious one, and it stuck with me for a long time. Honestly, it wasn’t just me – it was society-wide. Do any other women of my age remember the trend for women’s “business” attire in the early 80’s? I recall dark navy suits with shoulder pads, and scarf bows to mimic neckties. I had just such an outfit that I wore for college interviews. Did we realize at the time that we were trying to dress like men in order to fit in with them and be taken seriously? Probably not on a conscious level, but because of my formative years, I pretty much avoided pink in my adulthood like the plague. Until now.

Nowadays, I am at a completely different level in my life (and society has also changed). I have worked hard, taken my licks and EARNED my right to do and look however I want. I’ve decided that I’ve reached a point where it’s okay to embrace my inner pink. For me, it’s almost like reclaiming something that was lost. 

I’m not so afraid of “standing out” in a crowd of men anymore, even if I am the only female shooter on the range (as is sometimes the case in club matches). Using a splash of pink for me is almost like saying “Yeah, I’m a girl and I’m here – ya got a problem with that?”. In fact when a friend recently teased me about my bright pink shirt, I smiled and reminded him that he didn’t have any trouble finding me on the range, did he?  A few decades ago that would have been unthinkable for me to allow myself to stick out like that. Nowadays, I think it’s healthy to embrace the sport and make it “mine” in whatever way works for me. And if using some judicious pink accomplishes that, then Yay for me!

I also think the color trend has been healthy for male shooters. Now it’s not just pink that is out there, but red, and blue, and purple, and zebra stripes, and pretty much anything you can imagine if you look hard enough and use enough Duracoat. It’s now not a big deal for men to order a red, white, and blue flag motif from Brilliant Backstraps, or a red scope mount from Warne. It’s becoming “okay” to deviate from the “uniform” – and I think that’s wonderful for both women AND men.