by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, September 1, 2012.)
Plenty of times I’ve seen guys stop and stare when a pink product grabs their eyes.
I’m not about to wear it, but it’s growing on me.
For a few
years now we’ve been seeing various camouflage patterns enriched with pink. It’s
not just clothing. Pink covers everything from boots and bows to knives and gun
slings. Even rifle stocks feature laminated hardwood with alternating layers stained
pink and gray.
What's up with all this pink stuff? For starters, it’s a
reflection of the huge growth in women getting involved in hunting and other
Sometimes pink shouts-out for a good cause. Alpen Optics
two binoculars in pink, and when people buy them Alpen makes a donation to
fight breast cancer. That makes good sense because Alpen has a high profile in
the competitive 3D archery circuit, where many professional archers are women. Several
of them serve on Alpen’s pro staff.
Pink also makes a statement. It says women are not afraid to be associated with the outdoor lifestyle. They’re proud of pink. It’s photogenic. They may not all
be hunters, but the ranks of women hunters are growing, and pink sets them
apart from the men in traditional camo garb.
Vickie Gardner, Vice President at Alpen, actually warns
women about NOT wearing pink. “Once a man I was hunting with didn’t notice I
was part of the group and….” Think about it and you’ll get the picture. Pink
camo will give men with female hunting companions an instant reminder to be a
little more careful around women. Of course, she’s not advocating all-pink
camo. Subtle pink piping and pink accents on traditional camo should be enough.
Hoosier hunter Vikki Trout
is a freelance outdoor writer who
at least partly agrees. “Pink gives a feminine touch and helps distinguish us
from the guys.” But she’s personally more traditional. “Pink is a bigger hit
with the younger generation.” When I asked her if she thought pink had any
appeal to men, she said it does “because it keeps the ladies looking more
Her words reminded me that plenty of times I’ve seen guys at
sport shows stop and stare when a pink product grabs their eyes. Maybe they’re
expecting to see a pretty girl. It happens often enough to make that
That also says pink-themed merchandise is sometimes nothing more
than a marketing ploy. Some companies paint a product pink in a cynical attempt
to appeal to women, based on the assumption that they’re so shallow they’ll
respond to a product just because it’s pink.
Other companies don’t slip into that condescending attitude.
For them, pink sets products apart once they’ve redesigned them for smaller
hands and better efficiency.
Some women avoid pink. It doesn’t fulfill the hunting dreams
of Laura Lee Dovey, Executive Director of the Professional Outdoor MediaAssociation
. Although she does like pink camo for T-shirts, hats and
non-hunting accessories, “Pink camo for hunting is not for me. I don't want to
wear it to hunt because it messes with my psyche and feelings about blending into
Kirstie Pike, CEO of Próis Hunting and Field Apparel
agrees. Próis specializes in serious camo clothing for women. “Pink just does
not at all correspond with the vision of our company.”
And that brings me to two bottom lines. First, pink camo and
pink gear attracts all kinds of attention, and it’s going to keep coming from
specialty companies and mass marketers alike.
More important is this – our society is realizing women
aren’t all cut from the same pink cloth. More and more, everyday women are giving each other lots of
latitude in what to wear and what to think. They’re less and less being locked
into one way being feminine, even one way of being a feminist. Some like pink
camo and gear, and some don’t. But they’re all defining for themselves what “pink”
means and where it’s appropriate.
As for me, I wouldn’t be at all embarrassed about carrying a
pink-handled knife. I use an orange-handled Havalon
knife now, and I’d be just as
willing to have one with a pink handle for the same practical reason – when I
drop it in the leaves it’s easy to find again. And it would remind me that we
men are being joined in the woods by women who are just as good as we are.