Confession: I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. And I agonized over this site a lot. I wanted something professional enough to be the site of a Serious Writer, this site being an attempt to convince my subconscious that this is the real deal, that I’m actually going to put the work toward having a career, not just producing the odd bit of fiction to try to impress my friends with. And legibility was a huge concern, of course: if words are what I want to be known for, any layout would have to be clear and uncluttered, would have to put my words at the center of things, while still having room for showing off my future book covers in the sidebar. (You know the principle of dressing for the job you want? I’m attempting the website version thereof.) But I also wanted something fun and bright and reflective of my personality, something that would set me apart from just another boring professional website template. I spent months trying, tweaking, and eventually discarding WordPress themes. And then I found this one, which I rather liked, and which let me customize the font and color choices without having to dive headfirst into the stylesheets and override every single instance of a font or color I disliked.
But I like colors other than pink. I could’ve used red as my accent color. I like red just fine. I could’ve used a dark purple, one of my favorite colors, which would be less girly by far. Because that’s what pink is, you know: girly and frivolous. It’s the color you’d see on the website of someone who wrote romance novels or chick lit or girly YA books, all that stuff that’s less serious and important than SFF, because anything that’s written specifically for women can’t possibly be worthwhile literature, right? It’s the color associated with those girls — the girls all the awesome and bad-ass women who are “one of the guys” and “not like other girls” are so much better than, those vapid, shallow, fashion-obsessed bitches who toy with men’s emotions and are interested in stupid things like makeup and shopping, and couldn’t have a legitimately geeky interest if their life depended on it. It’s the color of the skinny, pretty girly-girl that we’re taught to dismiss, and yet which most people who are socialized female are pressured to be, at one time or another… which, if we don’t already fit the mold of traditional femininity in one way or another, just makes us resent it more. There are plenty of women who find pink infantilizing, who think if they’re serious adults, they should be represented with serious adult colors. I respect that. Hell, I used to think that way myself. We’ve been trained to see pink as a color that’s for little girls, for people who are okay with being trapped in restrictive gender roles. It’s not supposed to be a color worn by grown-up, competent human beings… unless, of course, cancer is involved.1
And if I put pink on my website, some cisgender straight dude who might otherwise be interested in my brand of storytelling (which leans toward the dark and mindscrewy) could take one look and decide this girly stuff wasn’t for him, that I only wrote about princesses and unicorns, and his testicles might actually shrivel up and fall off if he kept reading (O NOES).2
So there I was, with the conviction that no one would ever take me seriously if I made my site too pink and girly-like, and and the equal conviction that expressing myself, and giving some form of comfort and reassurance to girls who are messed up like I was (and, in a lot of ways, still am) is a huge part of why I’m writing in the first place.
And I realized that spite is an awesome motivator.
- Others have written far better than I could about the problems with cutesy pink breast cancer awareness campaigns, and how pink ribbons do more to make people rich than they do to find an actual cure for cancer. Even if none of that was a problem, I’d hate pink breast cancer crap because I’ve known trans guys who were made to feel incredibly uncomfortable and dysphoric being surrounded by pink everything while they waited for treatment, and that’s just not cool. [↩]
- This is meant as humorous exaggeration: there are plenty of awesome cishet guys out there who will think I’m not giving your gender enough credit, and you may be right, but I promise you, if you’re thinking that, I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about that guy. You know that guy. Everyone knows that guy. And sometimes that guy’s an influential voice in comics or SFF, and his hypothetical disapproval can be terrifying for those of us trying to make a name for ourselves. [↩]