When I was working and living in Boston, Massachusetts, a new phrase entered my vernacular. "Pink hat." This was not a descriptive term of a cap donning someone's head. The Urban Dictionary defines a "pink hat" thusly:

"A clueless, ignorant female who goes to sporting events and doesn't know the most basic facts about the team that they supposedly support. They are often loud, obnoxious and irritating. They prefer baseball, but have been known to appear at other sporting events and wear the jersey or shirt of the most attractive player on the team and can't tell you what position he plays. They are also the reason decent Sox tickets are $250 a seat. Also known as 'cunts.' "

Ouch.

This term became so prevalent that the Boston Globe dedicated an article to why the piece of clothing, and why the individuals (the majority of them being women) were so maligned. The naysayers of the pink hat claimed that it was because the color was for "poseurs." I believe that the hatred of pink hats has misogynist undertones (which is disappointing, as Boston was the city that birthed Our Bodies, Ourselves). The sight of pink, or women at sporting event, is potentially intimidating to those who have built their entire being around conforming to an ideal supported by patriarchal society; sports fans are "supposed to be" men. Who can forget that Men's Health published an article entitled "The Secret to Talking Sports to Any Woman," which famously insisted that women do not care about statistics in sports. Men's Health claimed that women only care about the "story lines" (athletes overcoming adversity or supporting their significant others through rough times) associated with professional athletics. Although the article was quickly pulled from the Men's Health website, an undeniably stark fact remains: someone gave the OK to publish this piece.

Bandwagon fans have been around athletics for decades. None have received as much tangible hatred as pink hats. To get a better interpretation of what those working inside and outside of sports think, I interviewed some of my former New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox coworkers, as well as fans that I encountered on my travels. All of the individuals that I interviewed were male. In addition, I asked one follow up question to my former Boston Red Sox coworker. The compiled answers to my inquiry are below. I started each of these interviews with one question:

When you see a female sports fan wear pink to an event, what do you think?

New York Yankees Coworker:
"I think women who wear pink at sporting events do so either because they had purchased the merchandise in support of the fight against breast cancer and/or they like the color pink. If you asked me why I think men wear camouflage at sporting events, then I'd say that the same thing, but replace 'the fight against breast cancer' with 'our Veterans.'"

Boston Red Sox Coworker:
"I think of a few things. When I see the pink gear I wonder if they are real fans, or just wanted to look cute at the game? I am hopeful that they are true fans. Another thing that crosses my mind is target marketing works."
Why does it matter or not if they're "true fans?" There have been bandwagon fans forever-and they were never given a gender specific term, like "pink hats."
"I love seeing fans that are women, of all age demographics, from students, to Moms keeping family traditions alive by bringing her kids. Competition is such a big part of being a human, and even more so being American. 'Pink hat' is just a different word for a bandwagon or fair weather fan. Guys get called this all of the time. Lack of loyalty in sports is not gender specific. It's the same when I see the all black on black or all white on white jerseys. The same question comes to mind, are they a true fan? Or did it match what they were wearing when they got overwhelmed in the team store?"

Liverpool Football Club Fan, Age 35, Resides in New Haven, CT
"When we attach to a team, there is an identity you bond with. We expect everyone (guys or girls), to adopt to the identity in our heads. Like for LFC, we're expected to wear red. If you show up in pink, it challenges someone's identity. It flies in the face of a narrow idea of what they think being a fan should be."

It is the response from the man that wears the Liver bird on his chest that struck me the most. Women who challenge identities created by men rarely meet a good end. These women get beheaded, like Anne Boleyn, burned, like the thousands of women who were slain for allegedly practicing witchcraft, or brutally murdered because they are transgender. Obviously, these brutalities are not even remotely on the same level as a woman being disparaged in real life or online because she is wearing a pink hat. That being said, the scorn that these women face is still the direct result of challenging a male ideal.

The prevailing attitude in American society is one that supports the idea of women's bodies constantly being up for public consumption and display. With this comes the belief that women should be judged solely because of what they are wearing. "Don't judge a book by its cover" is an old adage that holds little to no weight in our modern culture.

Men that mock "pink hats" are doing nothing but projecting their own insecurities, problems, and self hatred onto the women around them. I rarely watch sports live anymore, but if I were to attend a match to watch a team that used to sign my paychecks, I will be wearing pink. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but being ridiculed for wearing a pink hat will never hurt me.



*Note* Any gender can wear a pink hat and look fabulous.

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