More on pink

One thing I learned at SPEP — though why do I use the acronym when “society for phenomenology and existential philosophy” is so, so fun to say? — is that a “scientific” study published this summer in England “proved” that women are genetically disposed to like pink and men to like dark colours, and that the authors proceeded to speculate on the relation of these proclivities to women’s role as gatherer and men’s as hunter. The idea is that women like pink tones because they signify ripe fruit to be gathered against darker, cooler colours, and also maybe that they’re coded to like the pink flush in a baby’s face because they have to raise the infants. The men like the dark colours because they have to pick out something dark against the sand or sky and shoot at it.

I don’t need to go into the ways the study fails in sample size, in omission and indiscriminate application of cultural variables, and in wild leaps into ill-advised and contradictory opinion: suffice it to say the failures are numerous and dismal, and that the entire enterprise is clearly bunk. But since the study was mentioned in LG’s response to BB’s paper on that master of hokum, Otto Weininger, it’s led me to a train of thought in which I connect several rubbishy strands of categorization that have been floating around in my mind for a long time, as follows.

Women pink, men blue (new study)
Women gatherers, men hunters (well-established biological speculation)
Women farmers, men ranchers (Oklahoma!)
Women Cain, men Abel (obvious on the basis of the above)
Women Jews, men goys (Weininger)
Titties Jewish, balls goyish (Lenny Bruce)

See? You should be able to mix and match any way you like, and it all kind of makes sense.

And now I’m remembering that I was approached after my a talk I recently gave on Strauss and Levinas by a well-meaning fellow who is worried that the Straussian conspiracy in Bush’s administration is a Jewish conspiracy. There he was, ranting at me, and I was nodding seriously and saying weird things like “well perhaps Jews aren’t the most likeable people on earth.” What a thing to say! But my alternatives were either to plunge my pen into his throat or to make ironic self-deprecating remarks beneath which I could occult my hostility and which he would never understand. Is it surprising that I chose the latter?

The story fits into the pink stuff somehow, but I’m too tired to figure it out. I’m jetlagged. Jetlag is when you are very, very, very, very tired and you can’t sleep because a different part of your brain is telling you it’s time to be perky. Does everyone know that? That’s what it is.

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10 thoughts on “More on pink

  1. I am laughing hysterically. Hysterically! No darling, no perky with you. You bring out the scholar in me. It’s your great big brain.

  2. But, but the whole pink-hunter-Jewish thing lines up differently! (I.e. Yes, it really IS random!) In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain, pink was for boys and blue was girls because 1) pink was more like red, which was the color of hunting jackets, etc.; and 2) blue was associated with Mary — hence a weirdly Marian vision of motherhood (for that anti-Catholic country).

  3. England always claimed a special relationship with the BVM (not that the rest of the Christian world granted the point). The epithet “Mary’s bower” to refer to England dates back to the 9th century, IIRC.

    Yours in pedantry…

  4. Meg, neat! Yes, the English used to claim to have a special relationship with everything. You’re reminding me of Blake’s Jerusalem and the British Israelites (who “proved” that the British were the ten lost tribes) thus adding another rubbishy comparative:

    British=Jews, Rest of World=Goys.

    Though of course these Jews are also the True Christians. It’s all rather complicated. But I’m certain that a completely insane comprehensive System is emerging. Key to All Mythologies.

    DR, totally right. One of the things pointed out by LG in her account of the study results was that the Chinese who participated all liked red regardless of their sex, since red is a lucky colour in China. In other words, it’s cultural, and bizarrely the scientists ignored the Chinese preferences. Also (again from Lisa) they found that really everyone likes blue, and attributed this to early human preference for a clear sky. Thus they muddied their other speculations, and also conflated “human” with “male” — as is typical.

  5. And then there’s Eliot’s Deronda, in which Jews and the Jewish diapora (provided it ultimately returns home to Israel), embody Eliot’s ideal nationalism, which the English goyim can’t even approximate …

  6. Omigosh yes! Same thing. But now don’t get me started on Daniel Deronda. The only tolerable character is Gwendolen. DD is an unbearble drip. Loved her, hated him. And the portrayal of Judaism as dweebie, bookish, ultra-moral devotion also makes me sick. Yuck.

  7. What about DD’s mother? There’s no question that the English characters (and plot) are/is more interesting than the Jewish one (although DD’s own boring-ness carries over). But the mother’s rebellion into theatrical self-production always struck me as interesting …

  8. You’re right. Now that I’m thinking back, her rebellion is great, esp since it links Jewishness to the theatre, which for me are two great centres of anarchic, anti-moralizing profundity. But I had to think back carefully to remember this; at first I couldn’t think who the mother was. Which makes me suspect that while one might do a great deconstructive analysis of Eliot’s Judaism via the mother (i.e. the mother as the anti-text that points to the text’s lacunae) the general thrust re Judaism, and the thrust that sticks, is still that of DD and the drippy brother and sister. Someone should write this up (I mean the mother as the textual rupture). You? You, when free?

    One more thing I now know, in another vein but I might as well say it, is the connection between the two stories in the post we’ve now left far behind. It’s my habit of saying strange, hyperbolic things — things that are wrong and at the same time not wrong — my ironic stance in the world. In the first bit I said this sort of thing; in the second I talked about a time when i said this sort of thing.

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