Rethinking pink and gender in sports

If you’ve been tuning in women’s college basketball the last few days, do not adjust your set.

The pink uniforms you see for many teams — and it is a rather loud shade of pink in some cases — are in honor of the late N.C. State coach Kay Yow and the battle against breast cancer she fought so bravely and gracefully.

The “Play 4Kay” campaign has turned into a nice late-season attendance booster. But at its core, it’s a unifying cause that — unlike the recent controversy involving the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood — has no divisive political overtones.

While pink has long been associated with breast cancer awareness, it was only a few years years ago that the very same color was at the center of some trumped-up notoreity in one of the most embarrassing examples of sports feminism gone awry.

In 2005, two female law professors at the University of Iowa complained about the pink visitors locker room at Kinnick Stadium, claiming the color was misogynistic and homophobic in the context of a macho football environment. “I want the locker room gone,” demanded one of them, saying the paint job — which included the carpets and the urinals — might even violate Title IX.

The other professor blogged about it along similar lines, endured some nasty threats and eventually left flyover country to write up her impressions after returning to the safe shores of the East Coast. She also pens an establishment Title IX blog, where there’s no mention of her dubious cultural obsession.

I wonder what she and her cohort think now when they see pink slathered all over the signature women’s college sport — even for a worthy cause. Or even when NFL players do the same thing.

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One Comment

  1. Bern
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Another good post. I’m encouraged that WTS allowed it to go up over there.