Pink wristbands

I used to volunteer at the Royal Medieval Faire, usually working gates: taking money and welcoming people to the Faire. One year the Faire tried giving people wristbands instead of hand stamps to let them back in. For no discernible reason, the wristbands were pink.

One little boy worked his way up to us in the line with his parents. Dad paid the admission and we got out the wristbands.

“You’re not putting that on my son.”

He was, we thought, unnecessarily forceful. We explained that they were meant to let people back into the park.

“I won’t have him wearing that. It’s a girl’s colour. My son isn’t a girl.”

We actually got a few people like that. None quite as aggro as the one father, but it had us shaking our heads.

Really? Parents were really willing to push their preconceived notions of gender on their kids that hard? I had to feel sorry for the little boy. What if he turned out to be gay? Or just secretly liked flowers? I can’t imagine what it would be like living with a father like that.

I read the Parents Keep Child’s Gender a Secret story and thought “Huh, I can kinda see their point.” But then I read the comments (more on Facebook) and my heart sank. And I thought about that little boy and realized there are a lot of people out there like his dad.

6 thoughts on “Pink wristbands”

  1. Ironically, the whole “Pink = girl, Blue = boy” thing is actually a fairly recent notion.

    In fact, just a couple centuries ago the opposite was the norm in Western civilization. Blue was a girl’s color, pink was a boy’s color.

  2. As I recall, blue blankets were wrapped around boys as a means of warding off demons, and pink given to girls to complement the blue on the boys. But I read that a long time ago and I’m not sure where, anymore, so I can’t cite it, alas.

    There are, unfortunately, a lot of people out there like that, who scream inside and out at the thought of anything outside their specific notions of gender action and possession. :(

    But cheer up. Not all parents are like that; not all kids have to go through life with a homophobic parent looming over them. I hope I can leave a link here:


  3. I find it interesting how on such issues the first thought is often “what if he turns out to be gay”. A gay man can have highly Masculine gender. What makes examples like this problematic is that they teach kids to bikeshed (the colour of the wristband matters more than real issues).

  4. Stephen, my musing on “what if he turns out to be gay” had more to do with how his father’s reaction, given how he reacted to a mere pink wristband. Not so much whether the wristband might turn him gay because that’s ridiculous.

    I don’t deny that nonsense like this causes people to argue about stupid crap. But that’s kind of beside my point.

  5. @Darcy sure. I just think it’s curious that the response to silly nitpicks by those with strong gender id is often “you’re leaving out possible ids!” when, to me, the real question is “Why the heck is your id bound up in what colour the wristband is? That’s the stupidest thing to base your id on ever.”

  6. There are few things out there as scary as having your personal morals and beliefs questioned by others in society.

    It is unfortunate that when people are confronted with issued that they do not understand or agree with they react with hate, anger or violence.

    One of the most useful things I learned from a professor in university is learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Thank you, Dr. Rye.

    Perhaps we could all learn from stepping outside our comfort zones and begining to be more tolerant and accepting of people with different ideas and lifestyles.

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