Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

pink May 18, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:19 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I was just reading this lovely piece on the blog called, “Pink is for Boys” :

It made me think.

I have been battling this for years one way or another. I knew a young boy who loved Barbies. We watched him playing with dolls and clothes and figured that was probably an indication of his sexual orientation, but since we didn’t care about his sexual orientation, that was no big deal.

It was interesting that when he finally ‘came out’ in high school, everyone just shrugged their shoulders and said, “Yeah. We knew.” He was bullied before he came out, but not after. When he could acknowledge the truth of himself, others were more willing to accept it as well.  Perhaps the bullies realised that before it was assault, but after it’d be a hate crime?

So it is with many things. If we accept other ways of thinking or being, we acknowledge the truth in ourselves as well as the truth in others. Acceptance lets pink into our palette and adds beauty to our sunrises.

My Middle School students get angry when they are challenged for saying “That’s so gay!”   One is forever saying, “It means happy!” She doesn’t like the response that then she should say, “This is so happy!”  Not accepting the consequences of their words is part of their age, and teaching them to show empathy can be challenging.  Their brains are only beginning to learn abstraction, and some of them are still so concrete it will likely be years before they’re able to grasp what they’re really saying. They’re ostracizing 10% of the population with that kind of remark, and they have trouble seeing why that’s a problem. I’ll keep working on it. Hopefully we’ll get more boys willing to wear pink for anti-bullying days, and more kids  of both sexes willing to discuss why they are so angry if other people are different from them.  Acceptance is a powerful thing, but for some, their own acceptance is so precarious that they aren’t willing to risk accepting others.

What do you think?


5 Responses to “pink”

  1. “That is so gay” doesn’t mean happy here. It’s like saying that is so stupid, or full of BS. A total putdown. In reality, gay does mean happy, according to Mr. Webster.

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      and hence the connotation of that declaration is ‘homosexuals are stupid, full of BS, etc. ‘ While the denotation may be ‘This is happy’ that is not what they mean, and they know it. Their immaturity in refusing to acknowledge the inappropriateness has to be worked through. I have finally gotten them NOT to say, “That’s so Jewish!” which has the same connotation. I wish their parents did a better job of teaching them the power of words, although there are probably some who try to get away with things at school they’d never say in front of their parents.

  2. Do not forget what is now referred to as The R-Word. It has just the same connotations. The Disabled are stupid, are funny looking, are ridiculous; having a Disability is aligned with everything that is bad. For some reason, people will take a stand against anti-Queer bigotry, will take a stand against the N-word, yet when challenged about their use of the word “retarded,” will say, “That’s not what I meant, I wasn’t talking about actual mentally disabled people. It just means stupid.”

    No. That is the wrong answer. The correct answer is that, at some point in the 1970s or 1980s when it was still considered generally acceptable to mock Disabled people, somebody thought that the dumbest thing they could think of was a person with a Developmental Disability. That the only way to describe a stupid action was by invoking a stupid person – a Disabled person. They aligned “stupid” with “retarded” and every time someone uses the R-Word they are reinforcing that paradigm that people with Disabilities do not deserve to be defended, respected or taken seriously the way that other minorities are, that Developmentally Disabled such as myself do not have voices worth hearing, but rather, voices worth ignoring.

    People hold the idea that “retarded” is entirely divorced from its origins as an epithet. For thousands of people with Disabilities, it is not any such thing. Rather, it is a slur, and until it is treated as such, we Disabled will be seen as a peg below other minorities, third-class citizens, subhuman and People do not accept this, they refuse to accept this, they deny that they could be perpetuating such flagrant ableism yet there it lies in all its filth – that word that makes me a third-class citizen.

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