Thursday, May 11, 2006

Still thinking about pink

At brunch last weekend with friends AM and CF we started talking about pink hockey sticks--our friend had just bought one for her niece--and other hockey gear that has been appearing around the NHL. I actually saw pink gloves at a hockey tournament in March but at that point I thought they were being marketed toward women. Apparently not.
But then I started to get confused because I found this story about pink gear in honor of Mother's Day and to raise awareness for breast cancer. But I found it when I was looking for more information after reading about the pink bats in baseball. These are special bats for a one-day only performance at MLB games on Mother's Day to bring awareness to breast cancer.
So pink bats in baseball and pink sticks in hockey (and pink gloves, and pink stick tape, too). But AM said nothing about these pink sticks being associated with a cause. Apparently there are pink sticks being produced that are just good sticks. And this seems to be true. I found some pics of the Mission Pink Rebel composite stick that gives no indication of being gendered. Same goes for Easton's limited release of gloves in Bubble Gum. The description notes that this "is no girlie glove." Hard to tell if that means women can use it too or if it's just playing to insecure men.
The Rebel stick and the Easton gloves are a different story from the sticks and bats being produced for "special" events. They are used all of the time. The new bats and sticks are one-time deals.
Let me just say that I am not inherently opposed to men using pink sports equipment--in fact I think it's probably better than lines of pink sports equipment explicitly targeted at female athletes (a la pink Legos for girls). The pink hockey sticks, from what I can tell thus far, are pretty good things. (Of course a google search for "pink hockey sticks" brings up mostly sites for field hockey equipment. And in the US field hockey is an almost exclusively female sport.) But the coverage around the respectivee NHL and MLB events is ridiculous.

Derek Jeter plans to show off his feminine side.
No, really.

Yes, god forbid there is anything feminine about a baseball player. Probably especially important for Jeter about whom rumors of homosexuality tend to swirl. Of course Jeter does (or did) star in those American Express commercials where he is sporting a very metrosexual look--but safely surrounded by "attractive" women.

And this from a story about the tribute to "hockey moms" in the NHL:

It will definitely be unique to see "a tough and rough player using a pink stick," Janson (TPS guy) said.
"Pink is not usually synonymous with hockey," said Gary Ireland, a supervisor at the southwestern Ontario plant where the 75 workers have been busy painting the sticks.

Well apparently not if players are using the Mission Rebel. Also the "tribute" to hockey moms is a little troubling given that some "hockey moms" are actual hockey players these days. The pink being brought into sports that apparently have no connection to pink--I think one could make a good cultural studies argument about male sport being constructed in opposition to pink (i.e. the feminine) and that is why these events exist as a sort of release valve for all the overt masculinity--just further marginalizes women from "male" sport. It reinforced hegemonic gender roles--women as mothers, drivers, always serving the needs of others; men as warriors, heroes, successes who honor--when they feel like it--the women who helped get them there. Are pink bats and pink sticks really an honor?

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