Pink and the Unspoken Rule
I was taught growing up men did not wear pink.
It wasn’t so much a spoken commandment as it was an implied one. It was lumped together with other ‘forbidden’ things such as bracelets, necklaces, and earrings which ‘threatened one’s masculinity’.
I remember a teacher once saying “…If I ever see my son wearing a bracelet, I will rip it off and hand him a football.”
As a boy growing up who wasn’t effeminate, but who also wasn’t the most masculine guy in the class, it was comments like these that made me feel like I had to ‘try harder’ at being manly.
I played soccer for two years because I was scared if I didn’t play high school sports I would be looked at as less of a man. I hated every second of every game, and eventually I decided two years was enough.
I was worried my mom and dad would be disappointed, but as the always encouraging parents they are, they said, “…of course you don’t have to play, just so long as you won’t regret it.”
And I didn’t regret it.
The other day, my friends rolled their eyes as I met them for lunch wearing my newly bought pink tee shirt and pink hat to match. “Did you wash your red socks with your whites?” one friend joked. “Jacob’s wearing pink, AGAIN." said another.
In fact, they have made sarcastic comments every single time they see me in pink. It's as if they have to point out I’m breaking that unspoken rule incase I forgot about it.
As I’ve gotten older and more confident in myself, I’ve learned this unspoken rule is ridiculous. How much pink I wear, or how many muscles I have, or how deep my voice is, does not determine how much of a man I am.
A few years ago, I was listening to Brant Hansen’s podcast where the topic was masculinity. He shared a study where people judged if certain things were more feminine or more masculine, and the listed traits were the Fruit of the Spirit. You remember the Fruit of the Spirit, right? If you grew up in the church like me, I'm sure you had to memorize them in Sunday School at some point: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
Overwhelmingly, the response for every single one of these attributes was 'Feminine'.
That intrigued me. Why as a society do we think gentleness or goodness is feminine? The most masculine men on this earth should be overflowing in gentleness, in goodness, in love, and so on!
Brant also discussed how true masculinity can be found in Christ. He says, “So what I have to do is think that maybe masculinity is defined differently than what culture is telling me.”
“Jesus did some very masculine obvious things, he was obviously a stone mason…he also challenged authority, but he also cried in public. He also hung out with women and treated them with immense amount of respect and didn’t diminish them and didn’t act like they were silly…. He wanted the children to come to him, and in that culture, and in a lot of cultures men didn’t play with kids. But Jesus said get out of the way and bring the kids to me. Well I want to redefine whatever masculine is defined by who Jesus is.”
You can listen to this conversation below. It starts around 12:30.
So it shouldn't bother me when I get called "ma'am" on the telephone, or that my friends can't handle when I wear pink, but sometimes it does.
It's in those moments, though, I remember those things don't really matter. What is important is that I strive to be a man who is strong, who seeks God with his whole heart, who loves well, and who isn't afraid to stand up for what's right, and yes, one who sometimes wears pink!