Long before human beings engage in sexual activity, colour begins to play its part in defining sexual roles.
Sexism starts in the cradle when baby girls are dressed in pink and boys, in blue. Colour is, in fact, the only feature that marks gender differences for a year or so.
Maidenhood is traditionally associated with the ideas of virginity and purity conveyed by the color white. Even today white is the colour most women prefer for their wedding dresses. Testing a woman's chastity before marriage also seems to be a matter of colour for some cultures. Gypsy newly-wed couples, for example, must spend their wedding night on a bed having white sheets. Before going to bed the woman has to put on a white petticoat and she is deprived of any element (hairpins, earrings, rings) that could eventually hurt her and cause her to bleed. After the marriage has been consummated, the bloodstains on the petticoat undergo a close examination. The stains are rubbed with alcohol or some whisky and if they can’t easily be removed the woman was truly a virgin!
Talking about women, the crude term red sails in the sunset is used to refer to menstruation and a pinkie cheater is a latex glove used during a gynecological examination.
Now talking about males, a man who gets self-satisfaction by looking at a pornographic magazine is said to color the coloring book, and the jocular expression blue balls refers to intense male sexual frustration.
As regards sexual behaviour, pink has traditionally been associated with homosexuality. Since at first it was wrongly believed AIDS mainly affected homosexuals, in some countries the disease went by the name of pink plague until the scientific term was discovered. The term pink plague still remains as an example of historical slang reflecting both ignorance and prejudice towards certain members of the community
Red has always characterized prostitution, the oldest profession in the world. The term red-light district is a widely-known euphemism for a place full of brothels and ladies of easy virtue are said to belong to the crimson sisterhood or to be red-light sisters.
Blue and sex also seem to go in hand in hand. A prostitute is called a blue foot and any kind of blue stuff (jokes, movies, performances) is supposed to be sexually explicit. On the contrary, the adjective blue-nosed means to be religiously or morally severe or censorious.
It is clear to see that in sexual matters, as well as in other aspects of our lives, colour plays a leading role. As for sex itself, it can be noted the different, even ambiguous, attitudes people adopt towards it. Some people condemn it severely while for others it becomes an obsession. As for me, I prefer to avoid being blue-nosed about it, to discuss it in a natural way and treat it as it is: a fundamental human activity without which it would be impossible for us to come into this world.
The famous French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec spent much time in brothels and he even lived in one of them for weeks at a time. Lautrec painted a lot of prostitutes while he became their confidant. His favourite model was a red-haired prostitute called Rosa La Rouge (two colours!) from whom it is believed he contracted syphilis.
Scarlet-letter girl is another colourful term given to a woman of loose morals. This rather literary expression comes from the Puritan novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne which tells the story of a woman who is branded with the letter A on her bosom after committing the sin of adultery. The letter A she is forced to wear is to be a symbol of her sin for all to see.
This guest post was written by speakin_colors.