Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pink Think

How was Eastern America? Amazing. Great. It went by far too fast and by the end of my stay I really didn't want to leave. After 7 hours of flying westward I'm once again surrounded by BC's mountains and the pacific shoreline... and a fairly decent amount of August readings.

Lynn Peril's Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons marks the end of my just-over-a-week hiatus from CTR.

Peril writes a compelling analysis of how the colour pink has been historically linked to notions of femininity. It is argued that pink think, defined as a "set of ideas and attitudes about what constitutes proper female behaviour; a groupthink that was consciously or not adhered to by advice writers, manufacturers of toys and other consumer products," has been in existence since the 20th century (Peril 6). Pink think suggests that women should be utmost concerned with fashion, beauty, marriage, and procreation.

Peril does an adequate job in illustrating the prevalence of pink think during the 1940s to the late 1960s. She describes the differences in children's toys (fire trucks for boys, dolls and dating games for girls), college education (academics for males, home economics for females), the differing perceptions of unmarried men and women, and the notion that men enter the work force to support a family while women begin working in order to find a husband. She illustrates western consumerism's preoccupation with pink in advertisements of female products. And she stresses that females are socialized at a young age to be timid and subservient to males.

At the end of her work Peril suggests that pink think is still prevalent in our society... children's toys continue to be highly divided by gender stereotypes, women's magazines continue to stress the importance of cosmetics, fashion, and body image for attracting a mate.

Much of what Peril discusses is similar to Valenti's He's a Stud, She's a Slut (previously reviewed) only in a more historical context. Though I am a self-professed lover of history and gender studies, I recommend reading Valenti's version. Valenti portrays similar information in a much more engaging and entertaining fashion.

While I was reading Peril's work I did begin to wonder just how strong the association between the colour pink and women's products are today. Peril's work contains excerpts of old 1900s advertisements to illustrate her point... so I went out to search through my own belongings to see just how prevalent pink is... I believed my obsession with the colour purple would make a dominance of the colour pink near impossible.

A first glance at my possessions proved my assumption correct... if only for a short time. I really have nothing, save a Maid of Honour dress, that screams of pink. But then I looked more closely. Many pink book spines shouted out from my book collection... pink CD covers for female pop musicians stood out violently against the typical black and white album artwork. The text on my romantic comedy DVD cases were bright bright pink. My collection of Sex and the City seasons 1-6 DVDs? Yes, those are bright pink, too. My Mini Mouse key chain is even pink.

Pink and femininity are intrinsically linked through consumerism. Pink is warm, flirty, fun, bright, passionate, and perhaps even a colour that suggests the shyness of a blushing individual. But can this typify an entire gender? I beg to differ.


  1. This is so interesting. From an early age, I have despised pink simply because of its association with sugar and spice and everything nice.

    Following your lead, I conducted a survey of my shelves. Books about female characters do tend to have a lot of pink on the cover. DVDs with strong female leads often have pink somewhere on the case.

    So why aren’t men’s products blue?

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed your holiday and are safely home.

  2. What an interesting book! This is something that I've noticed, but I haven't thought much about it. I'd love to read this book sometime.

  3. Dare I admit that I'm wearing a pink shirt even as I read this? Umm...

    Anyway, great review and it sounds like an interesting book. I'm popping over from The Window Seat Reader and you've got a really nice blog going here!

  4. Oh shoot! I just realized that I'm wearing pink in my profile picture too!! 90% of my wardrobe is blue, green or black - this just happens to be a freakishly odd coincidence!


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