Having spent so much time among the blind trying to decode their decoding of our sighted world[1], I am particularly sensitized to the increasing cultural use of somewhat arbitrarily chosen colors to represent everything from illnesses (Pink for breast cancer survivors or anything female) to social movements (Orange to oppose domestic violence) to celebrate multiple sexual orientations (Rainbow). 

We humans choose to use our eyes and especially colors to represent to each other categories from team allegiance to nationhood, to racialization and, of course, to declare and teach gender.  Pink for girls, blue for boys.  At the turn of the last century, all babies were dressed up and photographed in frilly white clothing.  Then for a period, blue was used for girls, pink, deemed the stronger color, for boys. The sartorial decision most of us live by was made in the 1940’s by clothing manufacturers/corporations.  No study has ever demonstrated that these preferences are anything but socially constructed.

And now… A group of Costa Rican bankers have hatched a scheme that cost them $10,000,000 to develop.  It centers on pink as the quitessential stereotypic female color,albeit for little girls rather than grown women.

And, in fact, this scheme does infantilize grown business women shockingly by opening special branches of the government bank for women. It might have been a clever or even interesting idea if someone, anyone, had understood just what it means to be a business woman in the current social context and what purposes a women's bank might serve. Certainly it has been tried before, less than successfully.  But never like this.

The Bank of Costa Rica has opened a series of pink banks.Yes, pink banks for women with princess castles and hello Kitty themes. Today there are pink cars with pictures of princesses and kitties riding around the city advertising the grandness of this opening. As an example of services provided, the reverse side of the credit cards are makeup mirrors and a small barely legible notice that these cards charge the highest interest rates in the country.  No silly princess is going to trouble her pretty head about interest rates rather than looking in the mirror.

Some group of adult experienced business women and men sat around a table and came up with this idea.  What could they have been thinking? Specific services for business women laden with the most traditional and demeaning stereotypes?  These banks have been opened and inaugurated by the male president and immediately criticized by the female vice president. Adult women are already protesting and hopefully will boycott (girlcott?) this nonsense.  Yet the question remains,”How blind can sighted people be?"

[1] Kaschak, E. Sight Unseen: Gender and Race through Blind Eyes, 2015, Columbia Unvrsity Press.

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