Pink was the first thing I saw, and the last thing I wanted to see at the Becoming An Outdoors-Woman conference hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission last weekend at the C.A. Vines 4-H Center outside of Little Rock.
I wanted to think a workshop dedicated to promoting a nonthreatening environment for women to learn skills usually only taught to their respective brothers, husbands, male friends, etc. would be above and beyond pink.
But there it was. Pink table cloths, my name on a pink packet on my bed, pink shirts, pink accessories, and heck, I even won a pink pocketknife as a door prize.
Yes, everywhere I looked pink did abound.
When I was learning how to properly load and clean a handgun, or start a fire with steel and flint, or dig a cat hole on a long backpacking trip in the wilderness, pink was the blinding light that forged the way.
An instructor talked about women throughout history who broke stereotypes of the term sports“man”ship while wearing pink. We wrote down edible plants of the area with pink pens.
We played cards and drank beer, while talking about our lives and families in the same lobby they were selling pink earrings and matching necklaces.
We ate fried foods in a room draped with pink wall decorations, and when a sports team logo was placed on a projector screen surrounded by pink lettering, many hooped and hollered like they were going to war.
But I would be lying if I said by the end of the conference I hadn’t learned to appreciate the color pink for what it stands for in our society — the sensitivity and elegance of a woman (even in the rain and shooting a shotgun).
Over the blinding pink illumination, I noticed the “aw’s” emanate throughout the room as a photo of a baby black bear was projected on the screen.
When a fellow classmate was falling short on the hatchet throw, no names were called, but patient, quiet words like “oh, close” came from the onlookers.
When I wasn’t paying attention during cards, I felt the gentle tap on my arm from my neighbor kindly letting me know it was my turn. And when the DJ played degrading songs about women — i.e. talking about women’s big butts and shaking them in the faces of men — a friend leaned in to talk about how she wishes the DJ would play something more respectable.
All weekend I felt the general warmth and comfort that comes from a room full of women not feeling threatened or challenged to be the prettiest, coolest, wealthiest, strongest or best — and most just happened to be draped in pink.
By the end of the weekend, I had learned that I won’t earn a living in jewelry making or fire starting, but there’s one thing I’m proud to say I’m good at that’s worth respecting — being a woman who can respect and appreciate the company of other women for all the great characteristics they have to offer. And sometimes, as it turns out, that means wearing pink.