As paunchy male legislators debate the merits of hot pink camouflage, female hunters across North America are cringing.
And that's hunters, as in actors - not huntresses, as some sexist Congressmen would have us believe.
"It's like putting clothing out in baby blue and saying that men are going to hunt now," says Kirstie Pike, founder of Próis, the only technical gear company created specifically for female hunters. "Women get into hunting for the sake of hunting, not color."
The largely male mindset is that blaze pink will help entice more women into the hunting ranks. Hunters generally are on the decline, and the pink proponents argue that some women are put off by the traditional blaze orange safety wear. Wisconsin and Colorado have already legalized blaze pink for hunting, and New York, Louisiana, and Minnesota are considering similar bills. The scarlet fever has yet to spread to Canada, though some lawmakers here feel it's only a matter of time.
Women currently account for about one-in-10 hunters, but Pike questions whether the pink push is the right way to go about increasing their numbers. Others agree. Sarah Ingle, president of the Women's Hunting and Sporting Association in Wisconsin, called the new legislation "demeaning."
It's hard not to see her point. Strictly from a safety perspective, there's nothing wrong with blaze pink. It's highly visible in the woods. It's a good deterrent to being shot. But I seriously question the number of male hunters who would be willing to "walk the pink talk" and take to the bush this fall in pastel pants and parkas. Which, when you get right down to it, strikes at the heart of the latent sexism.
Also creepy is the male-dominated outdoor industry's sexist "pink" marketing. We have Muddy Girl clothing, which makes me wonder whether it's targeted at female hunters or men's-night wrestlers. We have girls' T-shits with phrases like "I'm the Pink in Daddy's Camo World" printed on the front. We have hot pink bows and knives and assault rifles, which have yet to debut in Syria but can that be far behind?
"Nobody's forcing anybody to wear pink," says Dan Fabian, a Minnesota Republican Representative. "The reality is that in today's world, there are lots of women who like to wear pink."
Once, year's ago, I wore a pink wrist band while my mom was being treated for breast cancer. I wore it during an ultramarathon and the inscription on it read: 'Tough Enough to Wear Pink.' I wore a pink scarf around my neck that day as well and teared up when I crossed the finish line. Don't confuse the legitimacy of pink in the fight against breast cancer with the illegitimacy of pink in the hunting debate.
Women are feminine enough to wear blaze orange or real camo or whatever else they want into the field. Tough enough, too.