by Constance Daley
The American Reporter
St. Simons Island, Ga.
March 29, 2005
THE PINK BACKLASH
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Mass was especially crowded this Easter Sunday morning - this is an island where tourists congregate for Spring break, and families come to visit grandparents from their own homes all over America.
Usually, the air above the voices raised on high reflects the sunlight through stained glass windows, tinting the rafters themselves as the notes reach higher and higher. Today, the glow was decidedly pink as the sun bounced off the congregation.
I looked around and saw little girls with big pink bows in their hair and pink Mary Jane shoes. Older women wore pink suits and younger women and girls wore pink blouses over pink slacks for the monochrome look. It was as if someone sent a memo dictating the uniform of the day.
As we paraded out the huge oak double doors to the rear of the church, smiling and gesturing after you, after you, after you, all the columns merged, and slowly swarmed into the parking lot. I picked up a bulletin, dipped into the holy water, obliviously blessed myself and said to a neighbor:
"Have you ever seen so much pink in your life?"
"I know," she chuckled. "That's the Pink Backlash. It's really taking off, isn't it? I don't know whether it's Martha Stewart or the Desperate Housewives but it seems it's time to think pink."
"What do you mean?" I said quizzically.
"Well," she said, "pink hasn't been in style for years. At .least not frilly, feminine, baby pink."
"What does that have to be with the feminists?"
"It was assumed, and I got this from an article, that in order to forge ahead in a man's world, we had to look and act as a man," she explained.
"I know we've been at the mercy of the designers for decades but I didn't think a deliberate movement was afoot," I went on. "I didn't really care enough to organize a protest with signs "Give Me Back My Powder Blue and Pink."
"Me either. All of a sudden all I could buy was gray, tan, navy blue, black, or the occasional red. Practical colors in a man's world," she laughed.
"We're so gullible," I said.
I then started to laugh, too. "Actually, we relinquished our pastels to the men so they could show their feminine side. I think of Peter Jenning's and the first time he wore the yellow tie. It was then worn by every man in America. It was his uniform. Now, they are into powder blue ties and pink satin with tiny black dots."
"Two years ago, one of the female anchors on the news programs showed up in a navy blue pinstriped suit. Soon they were all wearing them, weather girl included."
I had to get this straight in my mind. Women had to appear stronger in order to forge ahead in the work place. Men started to wear pink ties to show their soft feminine side. But, a soft feminine woman was doomed to remain in the typing pool. And a burly, butch of a broad who had earned her stripes as an executive, had to hide her strength.
Jean Hollands, author of "Same Game, Different Rules," trains women to be gentle in the work place. She advocates women who are smart will find a way to hide their confrontational tendencies and become sensitive to the needs of their underlings.
A male executive doesn't have to worry about these things. He can be himself and let the chips fall where they may. Not so with women. Hollands is forceful in advocating that "women must fake it "'til they make it."
In the not to distant past, women were reminded that if they wanted to get ahead in the man's world they would have to act like men. That means, to be aggressive. Go against their nature.
In the much more distant past, if a woman wanted to be aggressive, she put on a suit with big shoulder pads and let the image carry her. It was the Joan Crawford look. If she wanted to bask in the image of the little woman behind the big man, she put on an apron. Clothes not only made the man but the woman as well.
Interestingly, large corporations, particularly those in the Silicon Valley, send female executives to Jean Hollands course for re-training in the lost art of being timid in their workplaces. How they dress is how they are judged. Messages are sent through all the little things a woman includes in her wardrobe.
The same woman might be in a pinstriped pants suit by day and a lace teddy by night. She sends messages regardless of what she's wearing. A woman's wiles countermand any cardboard cut out image the clothes might be sending. Miss Pinstripe, the bright one with the PhD in psychology, can manipulate the strongest opponent using nothing but her femininity.
In a televised style show this weekend, the feature was polka dot aprons with matching oven mitts. The little dresses we used to call "house dresses" are a tribute to the costumes the actresses wear in "Desperate Housewives" every Sunday night.
The suggestion is that since more and more women are electing to stay home while raising their children, we're returning to the Fifties in styles and manners. I wasn't impressed. As the saying goes, "been there, done that," and the souvenir t-shirt, tie-dyed and torn, didn't make the journey from then to now.