Saturday, September 25, 2010

Constructions of gendered differences in perceptions of colour

My brother sent me a link from a joke website that plays into a few stereotypes about men that I thought would be interesting to look at a bit closer. Here is the image

Notary Republic Not Necessary

It is a poster from a paint store that reads "Notice Husbands choosing colours must have a written note from their wives"

I am assuming that readers have all seen the commercials or TV shows where men are depicted as not knowing how to coordinate colors, whether it be paint, home decor, or dressing themselves (especially when it comes to picking out ties to match their shirt). It is a way that men and women are constructed as different from each other. It also makes women look as though they are actually the boss in the home, as men cannot make a purchase without a written note from their wives, like a child needing permission to go on a class trip or something. See, we don't need feminism because women can decide what color goes on the wall. And if women are naturally better at seeing colors, then there must also be things that men are better at, like everything more important than picking out paint.

That link reminded me of these two charts showing gender differences in color. The first is a joke depicting what some people think about how men and women view colors.

Color names if you're a girl ... Color names if you're a guy ...

Next is a more realistic look at how men and women actually view colors, according to one study conducted at xkcd (the article itself at is interesting too). They found that "men and women tended on average to call colors the same names."

There are still some differences between people who identified as male and those who identified as female in the study, but not nearly as many as the many jokes suggest. There was even at least one color that men said and women didn't, being salmon.

I should also point out that I would not have come up with aqua, hot pink, or probably even magenta... and I would have called one of the purples blue. I guess I shouldn't be picking paint colors or dressing myself.

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