Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Well, the Blue Jays do wear hideous black jerseys...

There's an article up on ESPN about one of the more irritating contemporary sports merchandise trends today: pink jerseys and whatnot targetted at women. I can't really speak to Mary Buckheit's characterizations of the women who actually wear this stuff to watch football games, and I can't say that I'm terribly offended, as a lunatic Blue Jay fan, to see people wearing pink Blue Jay gear-it's not as though it's much worse that the horrendous colour scheme the team actually wears. What I don't like about the whole pink merchandise thing is the not terribly subtle way it hives women off from men, and the message it sends to women and girls that sports aren't for them.

Let me see if I can illustrate this with a story. I have a younger cousin, Andrea, who is the best athlete in what is a pretty sporty family. She's a great skier, and is, to my abiding joy, a goalkeeper in soccer. One day I was flipping through the catalogue the Blue Jays send to me every year as one of the people demonstrably nuts enough to purchase replica jerseys with my name on the back and so forth with her and my brother, making fun of the various goofy things on offer. And of course, the only things that were specifically labelled as women's products were the hats and jerseys and what have you that were bubblegum pink. I pointed this out, and Andrea emphatically agreed with me-rolling her eyes at the stupidity of the baseball team in the way that only fourteen year olds can do.

The point here is not that my cousin was discouraged from pursuing athletics by a pink Blue Jays cap-you couldn't discourage Andrea from playing sports with a flamethrower. The point is that the message is being sent and received that following sports isn't something girls do like boys do. That some of the girls who receive the message reject it is neither here nor there-this isn't a message I like sending.

Finally, this colour coding of merchandise then serves to reinforce stereotypes once its purchased and worn-I can't say that Buckheit's wrong when she says that male sports fans are likely to be even more condescending to female fans wearing the pink stuff than they would be to a woman wearing ordinary team gear or no merchandise at all. This may sound impossible, but we sports fans are really quite resourceful when it comes to devising means of condescension. We'll figure something out.

Speaking strictly for myself, I'd agree with Buckheit that a woman wearing the team colours is likely going to more attractive than the same woman wearing pink apparel. The woman of my dreams, among other things, is a rabid Jays fan unafraid of wearing a Jays jersey with her name on the back. This is possibly why she exists nowhere outside my dreams...


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