Is pink the answer to bullying?

Sleeping off a bender, I awoke to our mother hollering, “Time for school, find something pink to wear!” Like they wouldn’t anyway. Ninety percent of Misses P and V’s wardrobe is pink, but the exhortation to dress for anti-bullying day got them moving, which was Mum’s cynical intention. Usually she has to beg the kids a dozen times to don clothes for school, but in this case she could invoke novelty—or at least the idea of novelty.

Pink Shirt Day 2-bsh-2018yriFor boy children, dressing in pink might have been novel. Most boys don’t have a stitch of pink in their closets, either because they learn early that pink is a “girl’s color” or worse—because their parents shun pink on their behalf, fearing its possible potential to confer homosexuality on their male offspring. But bring on Anti-Bullying Day, and boys are expected to strut their pink threads.

My mum was relieved she didn’t have to purchase pink duds for a male child and/or bully said son into wearing them. Yes, Anti-Bullying Day is an excellent idea, but its execution is inevitably imperfect.

Girls typically wear pink; boys typically don’t. Therefore a “wear pink” campaign puts only boys out of their comfort zone. But of course that’s not the point—pink wasn’t chosen to single out boys. It wasn’t even chosen arbitrarily; it was prompted by an incident in which a male ninth grade student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school. The point isn’t to make kids uncomfortable; it’s to make them think. Which is great.

But whereas it’s not much of a stretch for girls to put on a pink shirt, just ask any parents who tried to wrestle their boys into pink this morning without success, and it’s a whole other story. As one of them commented to my mum, “My boys aren’t bullies. Most kids aren’t bullies. Wearing pink feels like a punishment to them.”

??????????????????????????Okay, so bad on society for gendering the color pink. That’s something to chip away at, for sure. And over the years, Anti-Bullying Day may well help with that. But for now, many boys—especially young ones—don’t “get” Pink Shirt Day. All their lives they’ve learned that pink is for girls. (One day we even witnessed a dad in Toys R Us heatedly refusing to allow his two-year-old son to try a pink bike.)

Moreover, those pink shirts parents bought their sons for Anti-Bullying Day won’t see the light of day until next year, reinforcing the notion that pink is not ordinarily for boys.

“How many boys in your class wore pink today?” I asked P after she’d trussed me up in a pink dress for the occasion.

“Um, zero,” she said. “But J wore a pink armband and W clipped a piece of pink paper to his shirt.”

“Good for them.”

If anything this illustrates the nascence of Anti-Bullying Day. Inaugurated in BC in 2008, the event has only just recently locked into February 27 as its official day. Depending on the proactivity of schools and teachers, it could well gain traction over the next years and decades. For now it’s in its awkward infancy, still seeking across-the-board buy-in.

Bullying is bad. This sort of thing really shouldn't happen.

Bullying is bad. This sort of thing really shouldn’t happen.

But again, if wearing pink is the signature outward emblem of participation in Anti-Bullying Day—ignoring for the moment how stupidly arbitrary it is to equate pink with femininity—are we not asking more from boys than from girls when we urge “all” kids to wear a pink shirt? P and V most likely would have done so anyway, but their male cohort would not have, which makes the exercise unfair—at least until we actually do chip away at the pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys stereotypes that underpin the bullying incident that kicked the whole idea off.

Lastly, we shouldn’t forget that bullying is not the sole domain of boys. Small percentages of both genders dish out intimidation and physical violence (just ask V, who has a female five-year-old tormenter). If wearing pink demands no effort of girls and considerable effort of boys, is the underlying message that girls are exempt from bullying?

Obviously the answer is no—it’s not the intentional message. But it is a message that could accidentally be inferred. Although schools do a good job of explaining Anti-Bullying Day and emphasizing that no one gender has a monopoly on abusive behavior, the anti-bullying message is riding on a raft of socially constructed implications—much the way gay-rights issues sometimes get swept along with rainbow themes that don’t necessarily resonate with all gay people. Hitching your wagon to a color or spectrum of colors is a great way to get attention and promote a cause, but in our society colors are laden with value assumptions that sometimes muddy the message.

PICT1885Bottom line at LBHQ: We don’t mind pink; three-quarters of the humans wear it all the time. When P draped me in my pink frock today I did get the impression she was trying to make me look prettier. Or maybe she was making a political statement—who knows?

The real bottom line is that Anti-Bullying Day, no matter how it’s observed, is important. It’s important enough to warrant a “theme drink” such as this mouth-watering Pink Lady. But then of course we’d have to worry about what such a drink implied.


Oh damn it, let’s just buy the gin anyway and make one.

Are there boy/girl drinks? And where do bears fit in?

My Fellow Inebriates,

I got some new tasting notes from my friend Michael:

With Michael's bear Gustav. Can you "own" a bear? Whose outfit is sillier?

right now i am tasting a white russian. it is creamy and girlish but slightly strong and very bearly. tooodles liquor store bear

One of the first things to go when you’re drinking any quantity of vodka is punctuation. Add some Kahlua and you can say bye-bye to your caps as well. Michael’s notes are my very favorite kind—when you are three sheets to the wind you can be totally honest.

The White Russian didn’t originate in Russia; but it contains vodka, hence the name. Add cream to a Black Russian and there you have it.

There are dozens of variations on this drink but the classic method is to pour vodka and Kahlua over ice cubes and then add half-and-half. It’s totally, totally, totally yummy.

Michael mentioned that the drink is “girlish,” which raises the question: Are there “girl” drinks and “boy” drinks?

Here at LBHQ we don’t go in for gender stereotypes so much as we do massive, unspecific overgeneralizations. To put it more honestly, I’m freaking scared that someone will hunt me down if I start spouting off about which spirits I like to wear a dress while drinking (and there are some). So instead here’s a sampling of personality traits and drinks to match.

White Russian, fave drink of "the Dude" Lebowski. Drinking makes us all better people.

BEER—You’re down to earth and easy to please. Sometimes you leave appliances in your yard.

COOLERS—You’re underage. Or maybe a sugar junkie.

BLENDER DRINKS—You like drama in your relationships. You also like loud, mechanical whirring sounds.

COCKTAILS—You’re purposeful and know what you want. To you, blender-drink fans are your bitches.

WHITE WINE—You’re optimistic but sometimes insecure. You’d like to be a nudist but you don’t know how.

RED WINE—You’re classic and confident but not very street-smart. For instance, you wouldn’t know how to shiv someone with a broken bottle.

SHOTS—You don’t like wasting time. Ideally you’d like to get naked right now.


My Fellow Inebriates,

After spending the afternoon wondering if a can of light beer was going to drop out of the sky and clock me in the head, I decided to stop wishing and buy some beer myself.

My pal Stevie O had recently enthused:

SINGHA from Thailand. Epic refreshing quality; the head is thick and sticks to the glass. Really mature; crisp taste with a herb-like dance on the tongue to finish. Hats off to SINGHA. GOOD STUFF.

So SINGHA was top of my procurement list today. But I had some distractions. Red Bear, one of the other bear denizens in the house, had a sudden realization, upon being dressed in a ravishing green frock by the little people here, that perhaps she had been a girl bear all along. What a mind-bending discovery after three years of hanging around the house commando like us boy bears.

You just can’t tell with bears.

I’ve been hunting for my junk for a long time, people, and I’d be lying if I said I knew for sure it was under my southern fur. I figure it’s there, otherwise I wouldn’t get so excited watching Megan Fox. That and the fact that I like hockey, even when the Canucks are getting reamed.

Today’s toast is to Red Bear’s sexual self-actualization and fashion metamorphosis, as well as my own offensive oversimplification of gender stereotypes. You’re welcome. Red Bear rocked that dress and made me start thinking about arranging a hook-up with Blackie Bear, if I can get him off the couch. And for our toast, here’s SINGHA from Thailand.

At 5% alcohol it’s a little stronger than some lagers, and very refreshing. Pale and ephemerally fizzy, SINGHA is best drunk icy cold and in large quantity.

Photo gallery: Thailand crowns its newest transgender beauty queen