Saturday, January 29, 2011


Can you guess which name inspires the most vitriolic statements? No, it's not Jezebel. Nor is it a name with kre8tiv spelling, or a name that looks "old," or the name of an unsavory character or celebrity. In my experience it's actually Pink, a boys name from antiquity that's unlikely to ever be used again.

Pink as a boys name experienced it's peak in the United States in the 1880s at #367, the first time that the government started recording name popularity. There was also the feminine Pinkie at #419, and the masculine Pinkney at #747. By the 1910s, Pink disappeared. Today, if Pink is used at all it's used as a girl's name. So where does this name come from and why was it masculine?

Some sources say that Pink is a short form of Patrick. Patrick is a name that a lot of Neo-Pagans have a real animosity towards because of Saint Patrick. The reason he's a saint is because he "drove the snakes out of Ireland." Since there have never been any snakes in Ireland, that's obviously code for something. And snakes were the sacred symbol of the Druids at that time, so it most likely means that he drove Paganism out of Ireland.

Another explanation is that at the time pink really was the color for boys. Before the 1880s, there was no tradition in place that determined who wore what color. And all babies, regardless of gender, wore white dresses. But in the early twentieth century, ideas about child rearing were changing. Clothing that allowed for more freedom of movement for crawling became the norm, as did a wider range of colors. It was during this time that there was a real push for boys to wear pink.

Pink was thought to be the stronger of the colors. In both Christian and Pagan traditions, red is male. For Christians it's the blood of Christ, for Pagans it's the element of fire. So it made sense for them to use red's little sibling pink. Blue, on the other hand, was associated with paintings of the Virgin Mary, but also the moon and the goddess Diana. Therefore, blue was feminine. It wasn't until WWII, when blue was used extensively for men's uniforms, that blue became the color for boys. In the 1950s, the slogan "Think Pink" promoted femininity, and dressing girls in pink was part of conditioning women to embrace their stereotypical roles.

I'm not going to repeat what some people have said about this name, because I think you all can guess. But most of it is unnecessarily angry. Comments that make me think, "Uh...okay. Why are you getting so worked up over this?" I'm not a huge fan of Pink either, for a boy or a girl. So I just don't use it. I don't try my hardest to convince other people not to use it. But the sad truth in America is that gender matters. A lot. A lot of parents would consider it totally sexist and abhorrent to discourage a little girl from wearing blue, but what about discouraging a boy from wearing pink?

I think I answered my own question when I was pondering if Baphomet was the most controversial name. Pink wears the crown, and that's a tragic statement about our culture.


Image Credit:
"Pink Boy" by Thomas Gainsborough via

1 comment:

  1. Thanks you have been very subjective. My grandfathers name was Pink Alexander Taylor. He died before I was born, so I always wondered why he was named Pink. It probably gave him problems at some time or another. Thanks so much


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