By Sarah Bennett

Adding insult to underpants for lady sports fans.

While the baseball season hasn't officially started yet, the sport's annual rituals are already (pun intended) in full swing. Spring training began weeks ago, trade and injury reports are already making the rounds, and for Red Sox fans like myself, the term "pink hat" has come out of winter storage, signaling the reemergence of the bullshitty sexist undercurrent that all female sports fan have to deal with.

According to your average he-Boston fan and sportswriter, a "Pink Hat" is a fair-weather fan, the kind of Sox fan who only got interested in 2003/4 when the team started to win, and would wear a pink Sox hat because "it's cute," even though a "real fan" would find it inauthentic and/or "gay."

I've heard many of these he-fans and writers insist that the term isn't sexist, because it applies to fake fans of both genders, and at this point, it isn't even limited to baseball, since new Patriots and Bruins fans are called Pink Hats on Twitter by Boston Globe columnist Peter Abraham.

This would be a totally fair explanation, were it not for the fact that, with few exceptions, men who like sports, even only when teams win, don't buy pink baseball hats. The term could easily be "Camo Hats," or "Khaki hats," but it isn't, and it's silly to insist the term isn't loaded when it so obviously is.

I often compare being a lady sports fan amongst dudes as walking into a Korean nail salon and breaking out with fluent Korean as your manicure starts; the women working there might be impressed with your skills at first, but eventually they start to realize they have to both include you and censor themselves, and a little tetchiness sets in. Male sports fans usually get to the tetchy part faster, plus they can't do cuticles for shit.

A sample (slightly-altered) PINK offering. Sadly, the kiss cam thing is totally real.

I'm sure that when Major League Baseball decided to roll out a line of girlier merchandise--orginally designed by Alyssa Milano (who wrote a book about her love of baseball, some knowledge you're now stuck with) but now done with the Victoria’s Secret PINK label, which is painfully appropriate--it was purely the result of market research and an attempt to find another demographic they could sell crap to. It's clear, however, from the scoop necks to the bedazzled logos to the fitted hoodies, that these are clothes for the wives and girlfriends of fans, not for women who like baseball themselves.

A big part of being a fan of anything, from a Trekker to a mayor of Red Sox nation, is willingly looking stupid; those who really care paint their faces, or their chests, or just wear team jerseys, which look crappy on everyone, including the athletes themselves. Part of the ritual of watching the game is getting to take your mind off the opposite sex, hence the way some dudes resent when women take an interest in sports, and I resent MLB thinking that lady fans care more about impressing guys than getting into the game.

This is not to say that I think women should show their dedication to a team by dressing head-to-toe as boner-killers; while jerseys are boxy/poly nightmares, team t-shirts in youth sizes, or vintage shirts found in the kids' section of thrift stores, are flattering without being flashy. It's possible to look good when going to a game without looking like you're going to a club, but MLB's line is catered less to those ladies rooting for the home team, and more to their idea of hos. When the league itself makes branded garments for women that are essentially full-body pink hats, you know the term is going to stick around for too many seasons to come.