Friday, October 23, 2009

What is it about the colour pink that scares men so much? I was watching the Heineken Cup Rugby Union the other day and Stade Francais were playing. They wear a pink strip, and I played a little game. That was : see how long it took the commentators, for no particular Rugby related or sporting reason, to begin making childish remarks about the pink strip, snickering whilst offering innuendoes about the sexuality of the players wearing it.

It took about 10 minutes. One of the commentators made a vaguely homophobic comment. Another one made a point of saying that these particular 'dressed-in-pink' men were, remember, burly rugby players.

A similar thing happened not so long ago when Nicolas Bendtner, the Arsenal striker, wore a pair of pink boots in a game. The Sky commentators spent an unreasonable length of time discussing them, rather than the football itself. And reading between the lines of their comments it was pretty clear that all of their focus was based on the connection between the colour pink and homosexuality. (it doesn't help but Bendtner's name lends itself to puns about people being 'bent' and Arsenal contains the word 'Arse'. I actually heard one or two people make these puns in conversations, and I imagine the pub I was in was not the only place these 'jokes' were made amongst men).

I've experienced it myself even. A couple of times I've worn stuff like a pink tie to social events and it inspires a kind of adolescent nervousness amongst a certain type of men (i.e. the kind of men who, like Sky commentators, make jokes about people with foreign sounding names.) They make 'banterish' comments that are just too much for something as small and insignificant as a tie. They over-comment on it. They slightly obsess about it. It grows in size and significance. They start to make slight homophobic innuendoes about it, whilst backpeddling from them just in case you actually are gay and the pink tie and the man-bag aren't just metrosexual fashion statements. I personally quite enjoy the idea that I can unsettle people so much with the colour of my tie. I would have not worn sequins, make-up and strange hair colours when younger and playing around with the the ideas of stereotyping and campness. A pink garment of any kind would have had the same effect. It simply doesn't culturally compute. In the eyes of many still, straight men somehow aren't allowed to like showtunes, Marc Almond records, electric cars, wine, pastel colours of any kind or cultural stuff like books and art. It's suspicious. Wearing pink and having a man-bag automatically puts you beyond the pale.

You can play another little game to see how unpopular and distressing pink is to many men. Go to one of those shops that stocks last years leftover designer clothes (TJ or TK Maxx, Marshalls and the like). There you will find a splendid selection of pink mens' clothing, leftover from last season because most men just will not buy it.

This person reckons that the association started with the Nazis making gay people wear a pink triangle whilst imprisoned. A quick zip through the internet provides no better theory. although I did find out that pink used to be the colour for a boy until WW2.

I can only conclude that the massive power the colour exerts on people is symbolic. It's not colour itself, but a reminder about the profound discomfort that society feels about homosexuality. How strange that it should reside in something so seemingly harmless as a colour?

Monday, October 19, 2009

today : a dilemma

Here's my dilemma. When Nick Griffin appears on Question Time, should I watch?

Reasons for: I want to see what happens. I'm curious to see what the audience and the other panellists make of having a fascist horror in their midst. I want to see what someone whose entire ideology I utterly abhor, might say. What weasel words will he use?

Part of me would also like to see him screw up big time. Squirming when reminded of his previous convictions for inciting racial hatred and his close associations with violent anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and other unpalatable racist thugs. I'd love it if he slipped up and made prosecutable comments on TV.

Reasons against : I would be offering him exactly what he wants. I'd be a viewing figure. And even though I could convince myself that I'd just be 'observing', by tuning in to watch him debate I would be participating in his awful project to legitimise the politics of evil and hatred.

When I was younger, and a University student, I was pretty uncomfortable with the then NUS policy of offering 'No Platform' to people whose views were dodgy and unacceptable. This was the mid 1980s - so that involved many sitting MPs and pretty much anyone who'd not supported the miners. There was an ugly trait amongst some left wing activists that smacked to me of extremism, and sometimes it struck me that the agendas were not political but personal. People were outcast and stuff was censored and proscribed for no good reason. I guess it was mainly young people who had a bit of power and got drunk on it.

But I am more than twenty years older now. I still an inveterate fan of free speech but am a solid believer in offering no platform to fascists. And I don't think the two are mutually exclusive in a mature society. I cannot really understand why The BNP is not just banned from standing in elections, or at least aggressively prosecuted every time they show their ugly faces in public. It does nobody any good for them to spread their poisonous falsehoods under the banner of political ideas. Their rhetoric and policies are monstrously retrograde and demeaning to anyone who believes in democracy.

Should I watch?

Update : I didn't watch, but didn't need to. The news gave it blanket coverage. In fact only a couple of hours later I'm sick of the sight of the odious rat faced fascist.

Monday, October 05, 2009

today : too eazi

I rarely just repost stuff I find on the web, but this is too easy and fun. These are the people who are more worried about Obama giving a start of term talk to their kids and 'indoctrinating' them with his dangerous communist bullshit, but hardly ever complaining about the state of the education in their schools.