I was at Target the other day returning a shirt that didn’t fit and noticed an entire rack of pink button downs in the Men’s Wear section. It reminded me of a story that I recently read about a group of male high school students that bullied and sexually harassed another male student solely for wearing a pink shirt. What was newsworthy about this incident were the responses of two senior class boys and the use of pink shirts as a part of a creative campaign ("Sea of Pink") against bullying and sexual harassment. They rallied other students to wear pink and used this “feminized” color as a unifying element to show their solidarity against the bullies.
What really struck me about their campaign was that it didn’t appear they knew the victim of the incident but they still felt the need to actively respond in a show of support and encourage their friends to do the same by wearing pink shirts the next school day. It is so encouraging to read about how people, especially young men, are speaking out and taking a stand against sexual harassment and bullying. It is equally powerful to share that their activism proved to make a difference in the victim’s life and their corporate disdain put the bullies on notice that such inappropriate behavior would no longer be socially acceptable. Their story has also inspired me to purchase a pink shirt and share their activism with others as a way to honor how these bystanders made a difference.
I'm curious what effect this story will have on you. Will you look at men wearing pink shirts differently? If you are a man, will you consider wearing pink and share this story with your friends? Or given the opportunity as a bystander, will you speak out and take a stand against sexism, violence, and sexual violence?
Man Up! Coordinator