Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nike enabling pink events

I haven't written anything recently about pinkification, because I have said (probably more than once) before it places one in the not so pleasant position of appearing to be pro-cancer and maybe even anti-woman.
Nonetheless, I find it difficult to refrain from infusing some critical commentary when the issue comes up.
This one is not a diatribe. I just happened to come across news that the University of Alabama (whose softball team just won the SEC regular season and tournament and got a #1 seeding in the NCAA tournament) has renewed its contract with Nike. (This isn't even going to be an anti-Nike post!) As part of said contract (which runs through 2018!) Nike will provide 'Bama with apparel, equipment, coaching gear, and shoes. They will also:
will allocate funds...for the athletic department's annual Power of Pink initiative in which the company will provide specific "pink garments" to be worn by each women's sports team at one contest per year.
"Pink garments"? Like underwear? Or Easter dresses? Such strange wording. Of course, what they mean is that when someone decides that a game will be a cancer awareness/fundraising one, Nike will make pink uniforms so the team can wear them for that one contest. What's interesting is that there is no mention of cancer in this. We just--myself included--are now simply assuming that any pink initiative is cancer related. [And I have posted previously how breast cancer isn't even being mentioned anymore--pink is standing in for all cancers now? Or just female cancers? It's all getting kind of fuzzy (and pink of course!)]
And also is the obvious: women's teams are the ones engaging in these events--at the collegiate level anyway. It does not appear that the Alabama football team and Coach Saban will be sporting pink uniforms this fall. Apparently one of the other things football is exempt from is the Pink Initiative. When men do such events they seem to be happening almost exclusively at the professional level (MLB, NHL) and there are jokes and winks about men wielding pink bats, hockey sticks, gloves (but never uniforms you will notice!)
There is a difference between women stepping up to help other women and universities (largely under male control, still) creating initiatives--supported by somewhat misogynist corporations--in which women are mandated to participate (because if you don't, you're a bad woman) while men are excused.

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