Column: The B-52s is a manly band name

New parents paint the walls of their son’s nursery blue. Or they’ll dress their infant daughter in pink.

New parents paint the walls of their son’s nursery blue. Or they’ll dress their infant daughter in pink.

Unless you’re interested in sparking a discussion on gender norms, it doesn’t seem worth second-guessing that society identifies baby boys and baby girls by assigning a pastel colour to each sex.

But to me, it’s a no-brainer that blue is a boy’s colour and pink is a girl’s colour. That’s because my mind works different than most people’s.

I have a neurological condition known as synesthesia. More specifically, I have the ordinal-linguistic personification form of the condition.

Without an ounce of mental effort or requirement of thought, my brain assigns genders to colours, letters and numbers. It’s second nature to me. My brain has done this since as far back as I can remember.

The genders never change – C is always female, 7 is always male – and some letters and numbers have personalities (G, for example, is a burly, angsty female). Blue has always been male, and pink is always female.

It wasn’t until I was 20 that I realized the way my mind treated numbers, letters and colours was unusual.

I figured everyone else did the same thing – but after quizzing my friends, family and co-workers, nope, apparently not.

It’s actually quite comical how people respond when you rattle off the sexes of all 26 characters of the alphabet. Most people will sit silently, thinking, and then defensively say, “No, M should be a guy!”

No, to me they’re wrong. M is a gal.

And so are A, C, D, G, L, N, O, Q, V and Y.

B, E, F, H, I, J, K, P, R, S, T, U, W, X and Z are male.

As are 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and the colours blue, green, brown, beige, black and grey. 3, 4, 8, 9 and 0 are female, along with red, yellow, orange, purple, pink, white … you get the idea.

What’s my justification for these gender assignments? I’m not sure, and I’ve tried to analyze it all.

Most people I chat with about my synesthesia disagree with me on green, orange and purple.

They think I should think green’s a girly colour, and orange and purple are manly.

I can’t reverse or switch the genders my brain doled out decades ago, so they’re really wasting their breath attempting to change my mind.

Ordinal-linguistic personification is a very mild form of synesthesia. The condition, as it’s defined, is a “union of senses.”

Some synesthetes taste words, while others see sounds.

“The male singer’s voice (is) gray and the female’s (is) white, both fading in and out of the darkness while the percussion makes the background ebb and flow. It’s like watching a birds-eye view of a black ocean during the nighttime with strobe lights flickering on and off coming from underwater.”

That’s how a sound-colour synesthete, who posted about his experience online, described listening to one indie British pop band’s songs. That seems pretty sensational.

It would be problematic to have a gustatory banquet stimulate your taste buds with every conversation you have or book you read. But I think tasting words would be a really neat form of synesthesia to have.

I’m not sure if the strength of one’s synesthesia is ever so powerful that it’s handicapping, but when I think back on my childhood and formative years, I realize my synesthesia did impact my day-to-day life.

I wore, almost exclusively, blues, blacks, greens and greys, and shied away from purchasing anything purple, pink, orange or red. I wasn’t consciously trying to dress one particular way, I just didn’t want to wear the colours that I thought everyone else, like me, perceived to be female.

Having been a synesthete since childhood, I can’t imagine living a life where I don’t harmlessly and naturally segregate colours, numbers and letters by gender.

I just wish everyone else could experience what we synesthetes experience – your senses don’t know what they’re missing.

Kyle Slavin is a reporter for the Saanich News.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Friends have identified the man killed in Friday’s shooting in Metchosin as Shane Wilson. (Shane Wilson/Facebook)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

Fire Chief Darren Hughes, right, pulls the old Firemans Park sign off ahead of the parks name change. The new sign for Firefighters Park is coming. (Oak Bay Fire Department Twitter)
Oak Bay changes the name of Fireman’s Park

New sign for Firefighter’s Park on the way

The WHL’s Victoria Royals will compete in a 24-game season starting March 26, <strong></strong>based out of a Kamloops and Kelowna B.C. division bubble (Kevin Light/Courtesy Victoria Royals)
‘Important to cherish every moment’: Victoria Royals not taking bubble season for granted

The Victoria WHL team’s coach and GM calls the season a ‘privilege,’ expects fierce rivalries

The Victoria Fire Department was able to contain a fire to one room after a bed placed directly against a heater ignited. (Black Press Media file photo)
Early morning Victoria balcony fire causes $20,000 in damages

Victoria Fire Department said nobody was injured in the fire on View Street

Postmark Group, an Edmonton-based development firm, bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year, and is reaching out to the community and local groups for feedback before they begin planning the designs for the development. (Photo contributed/Postmark Group)
Waterfront village development eyed for Sooke

Postmark Group development firm bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Most Read