The Pink Leash and Collar

I worked at Petsmart while in college- an excellent part time job with many memorable experiences.

  • Someone STOLE the Cockatoo during work hours… did they put an $1,800 bird under their shirt and just walk out?
  • Sandra Bullock came in for dog food one time.
  • I fitted a Serval cat for a harness to walk on a leash once- that was the high point of my entire time there.
Greatest day at a minimum wage job possible!
  • How that job taught me that I’ve liked literally every Pomeranian and Greyhound I ever met, hated most dachshunds, rat terriers, and Weimaraners, and that labs smell- a lot. And how I hate hamsters IMMENSELY but that rats and mice are sweet and should be used as pets more.

But the story I write about today is not any of those- this one has to do with gender, color… and leashes.

We’ve all seen the backlash that is building as it pertains to color and kids toys. The aisles of “girl” toys being all pink and purple is starting to get a negative reaction, thankfully. The annoyance I have to the “shrink it and pink it” concept as it pertains to women’s versions of things- outdoor gear, running shoes, coolers, etc. (Pink camouflage being my personal most hated in this category of “unnecessarily gendered things”) But the thing is- even though the “favorite colors” are actually quite similar between men and women (blue is tops to both), we get relegated to pink and purple being the only “allowable” ones, the ones we’re assigned/relegated to by society.

It is, to me, best illustrated by folks bringing puppies in to get their first collar and leashes.

So many options, but nooo….

The leash aisle is an absolute rainbow in Petsmart, organized by color going down the entire length. But you want to know what color collar and leash 99% of dudes picked if they came in with a female puppy? Pink or purple. Thinking back, there were definitely more guys buying pink leashes than women buying pink leashes and that was so weird to me!

And look- I didn’t think too deep of thoughts about it at the time- but I’d roll my eyes and tell those guys “Look, you’re the one who is going to be holding that leash, do you really want a pink leash?” The response: “But she’s a girl!” (Also? Nine times out of ten the puppy would be named Sadie) My response: “So? You’re the one picking the color here.”

It rocked these guys’ worlds- to a one they didn’t ever consider that the rest of the colors could apply to females. Girl equals pink and purple, the end. And god damn it- men do not own the rest of the damn rainbow this shit is RIDICULOUS GAH! I’m sure this did not result in significant change in those guys’ behavior; this conversation I’d have wasn’t a full scale gender studies class in the middle of a pet store aisle, after all. And a lot of times they would pick another color, often black, but sometimes it just could not compute and they’d still buy the pink leash and collar. I always felt sad for their girlfriends/ future wives/ and daughters- this dude right here? He’ll see you as gender first and only. You won’t contain worlds to him- you’re just female. Those dudes are probably also the ones to get Pandora jewelry for their wives- Like in this SNL skit

I would totally not have this conversation with any dude that seemed like a douchebag- enjoy your life holding a pink leash, you tool! I’d hope it served as a HUGE red flag to women- don’t date a 20 something guy with a pink or purple collar on their dogs, ladies! I bet it wasn’t though. I bet I may be the only one that saw it that way. But I’ll tell you what- that man I knew on our first date that I would marry, the one who saw the worlds I contained and who would never get me a stupid Pandora bracelet as a gift- he also picked a red collar for our female puppy so I know I’m on to something with this.

Maybe I read too much into it. Maybe I don’t, I can’t really be sure. And sometimes that knee jerk against pink can be just as annoying as the knee jerk to it! A lot of us HATE pink because it’s forced on us that way, but it’s not pink’s fault; it’s a perfectly good color. But society just has to tie up so much baggage in it! Like society decided long ago that those dogs in pink collars and I? We’re all just bitches and that’s the be all and end all of the story. But put it on my damn tombstone:

She fought the good fight.

She finished the race.

She always fought against the pink collar and leash.

(Don’t actually do that. For an epithet I want: “She loved the stars too much to fear the night.” I just have an image of that other one winding up on my tombstone in 60 years and someone saying “Well she clearly said to do it on her blog, so…” And my ghost being like: “IT WAS A GOD DAMN JOKE, YOU PIECE!”