Men can't wear pink sneakers! Didja know that?
My wife Jill was having lunch today with two male colleagues. Let's change the names to protect the benighted. We'll call them X and Y.
As they were waiting for their food a table next to them broke and they watched the three men at it walk away, one wearing pink sneakers. X offered the opinion that men ought not wear pink sneakers.
Jill asked why? Pink and purple and even sparkles are all perfectly valid things for anyone to wear who wants to.
Oh sure, said, X. I have a pink shirt! But shoes, that's not OK for a man to wear in pink. Y piped up, Or underwear!
Jill said, I don't care if you're wearing pink underwear right now, as long as you're comfortable in it.
The conversation moved on from there, but I think we all know what the underlying message was. A giant serving of homophobia, with a heaping side of rigid insistence on the gender binary. She wondered to me later if she should have called it out, as one should at work. But I think the setting of a work lunch and the fact that the homophobia was never expressed openly puts it into enough of a grey area that it was OK to just let it pass.
Of course when I heard this, the provocateur in me simply had to order a pair of those from Zappos. I will be sure to be wearing them to the next family event at Jill's office.