Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Pink for boys


Remember the Pink Chaddi campaign that rocked India in 2009? Hundreds of pink panties were couriered to Pramod Muthalik’s office by Indian women as a mark of protest against his organisation’s [Sri Ram Sena] offensive actions upon young couples found together on Valentine’s Day. The colour pink was chosen because that colour was considered to be conspicuously feminine. The campaign was a revolutionary assertion of autonomy by India’s women.

Now look at this quote from a trade publication called Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department, published in 1918: The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

Pink for boys and blue for girls. That was a century back. Today it’s just the opposite. Who makes such conventions? The society, of course. And randomly too. There is no rationale behind why boys should wear pink and girls blue or vice-versa. Gender is a similar whimsical social construct. The society constructs the gender conventions. In other words, the society decides what boys and girls should or can do.

But the time has changed. “Why should boys have all the fun?” Girls are asking that question not only in commercial ads today.

Many social conventions are made by a group of people who wish to have power over others. The ancient caste system with very clear rules about the roles that people can and should play was a creation of a group of shrewd Brahmins who knew how to wield power over the others effectively. Who made the conventions of the Sati, devadasis, restrictions on women, and so on? The same power-mongers and power-brokers, who else?

The times have changed though many top men in India seem to be unaware of that and hence cling to ancient systems like barnacles clinging to rocks till death. These men may seem to be currently very powerful and even effective but will end up eventually looking like bizarre gargoyles on the edifices of history. The world has travelled far ahead from centuries-old sanctimonious conventions and rituals. Gender roles have also undergone revolutionary changes.

Women have proved that they are no less than men in any way, anywhere. Women have conquered the peaks that men considered their sole prerogatives earlier. Women have embraced careers that were once exclusively male romances. In fact, women are outshining men in many areas. Pink is indeed turning out to be a “more decided and stronger” colour. Maybe, today’s boys who are increasingly looking effeminate need to arrogate to themselves the pink colour.

PS. This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.



  1. It had been quite a revelation when I first read the words - gender is a social construct. But once we understand that we also understand that these constructs can be broken. We should all just wear pink!

    1. Interestingly most people want more gender equality, more personal freedom. Yet as a nation we seem to be regressing to some old straitjackets because of some of our worthless leaders.

  2. It's true gender roles have undergone changes over the years. Knowledge amongst people is increasing and people are making choices based on what they want rather than what society tells them

    1. That freedom is very essential. Unfortunately today in India certain political powers are trying to curtail that freedom.