The Biology of Pink

Perhaps you don’t remember an entry I wrote about a year ago titled Pink Is For Boys, Blue Is For Girls. I linked to a Fairer Science post that was debunking a Times Online editorial suggesting girls had a biologically determined preference for “pink fluff”. Fairer Science quoted a June 1918 edition of Ladies Home Journal thus:

There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.

Point being, cultural stereotypes are mutable and don’t necessarily mean there’s some underlying biological (and thus, the implication goes, inescapable) “truth” to them.
And yet…the quest for the biology of pink goes on unabated.

The latest entry is neuroscientists Anya Hurlbert and Yazhu Ling with their study of color preference. The LA Times leads with:

Women’s brains seem to be hard-wired to prefer lavender, and men’s tend toward blue.

It makes good copy. Too bad their paper doesn’t actually support what they are saying to the press. For one thing, the paper shows that both women and men most prefer blue. The other parts of the paper I’ll have to pick apart in another post; I’m on my way out of town this afternoon. But it just makes my teeth grind to read crap like this – how the hell did it get published in the first place? – and then see the press lap it up like sugarwater. The press loves nothing more than “science” which shows that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, while boys are all snips and snails and puppy dog tails. Soooooo cute.

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