It wasn’t just safety concerns that prompted Drew Born to come from Grand Rapids to Lansing to testify this week in support of allowing hunters to wear pink, in addition to blaze orange, when they head to the woods in search of deer.
It was also about ensuring that women look cute when they hoist their guns or bow and arrows.
“Women prefer to always look and feel attractive (even while hunting), having pink as an option can help with any insecurities over what they are wearing,” read a memo from Born that was handed to members of the House Natural Resources Committee during a meeting this week on a bill that would allow hunter pink. “Pink is color that can immediately identify a female, women don’t want to be mistaken for a man, even from a distance or in the woods.”
The memo prompted an outpouring of eye rolls and outrage from at least one lawmaker and dozens more on social media who found the sentiment both insulting and wrong.
“This has gone from silly to offensive. This memo is so out of touch,” said state Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, whose phone started blowing up after he posted a picture of the memo on Twitter. “I don’t think a bunch of men need to tell women what they should wear to make themselves feel attractive while they’re out in the woods hunting.
“Women across the country realize that men should no longer be speaking for them, not only on their fashion sense, but on more pressing issues in the state,” Moss added. “This borders on the absurd.”
Laura Marsh, a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, supplied a typical response on Twitter: “For years men have wondered- what do women rly want? Pay equity? No. Access to healthcare?? Nah... just to feel cute while hunting.”
Comedian and TV personality Chelsea Handler also picked up on the Twitter trend: “Yes, women always love to pink. It’s the only color we love.”
Yes, women always love to pink. It’s the only color we love. pic.twitter.com/jLh4BMp6Ub— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) January 25, 2018
Born said he only wants to increase the number of people hunting in Michigan.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with whether this is a politically correct statement,” he said. “The whole reason to choose pink is for people to have a choice. I knew the moment that I phrased it as a women’s recruitment tool, it would be taken wrong.
“Anything we can do to get women involved in hunting is worth it,” he added.
The issue was thoroughly debated in 2016, when the Legislature passed a bill allowing for "hunter pink" apparel — in addition to blaze orange — for all the outdoor enthusiasts who take to the woods for hunting season. But there was a caveat to the legislation.
The bill required the Natural Resources Commission to do a study to ensure that the color could be easily seen in the woods, even by those who are colorblind.
The NRC ruled in September that hunters' attire must be at least 50% blaze orange, citing reports that hunting-related injuries and deaths have declined as a result of the requirement. Hunters can wear pink if they want, but the dominant palette must be orange.
That wasn’t good enough for Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Wayland Township, who reintroduced the bill last week to ignore the Natural Resources Commission recommendation. He acknowledged that Born came to Lansing to testify alongside him on the legislation. But he said no one had seen Born's memo before it was turned over to the committee.
“It was from a private citizen. We never reviewed it. We didn’t approve it,” he said. “The main benefit of the bill is giving people more options.”
State Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, is the chairman of the House Natural Resources committee and said he hadn’t read the memo, either.
“I think it’s remarkably irrelevant to what we’re talking about,” he said. “The only reason we’ve got this bill is for safety.
“There is a lot of red, orange and yellow leaves that could blend into orange and that’s the most persuasive thing I heard,” Howell added. “I could care less who looks attractive or unattractive in whatever color they’re wearing.”
The committee didn’t vote on the bill — HB 5416 — this week, but is expected to consider it again at a meeting next week.
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