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I realize that there are lots of important media ethics issues to discuss surrounding this week’s special New York Times Magazine issue about “Saving the World’s Women” (that white knight–inflected title would be a good place to start), but my friend Shannon pointed out a pretty glaring, if ultimately less weighty, issue: does the special text surrounding the online magazine preview really have to be pink?

I guess the online producers wanted to distinguish the “special issue” in some way, but I can’t interpret the decision to use pink in any way that doesn’t undermine the theme of many of the issue’s articles: that women’s struggles deserve to be taken seriously by policy makers and should be treated as “hard news” in the media. The pink color marks the weighty issues addressed in the articles (including women’s role in economic development, sexual slavery and human trafficking, and Liberian politics, among others) as belonging to a special interest, and places them in opposition to the magazine’s “normal,” “universal” fare.

Using pink to brand things for women is a historically suspect enterprise. For decades, manufacturers of all sorts have used it to pitch their wares to women while entrenching rigid gender roles and distinctions. The “pink for women” marker would have to be used in a pretty innovative way* for it to seem like a useful journalistic tool, and I don’t think the Times met that bar. I’m curious to see what the print version will look like.

*I would love to hear thoughts from anyone familiar with the breast cancer awareness campaign, which has clearly used “pink for women” to great and serious effect.