Sorry about my poor attempt to parody Julie Andrews, hopefully the quality of this post will vastly improve from this point in.
One of the most irritating work calls I ever received was during my tenure as editor of handbag.com. It was from a PR who wanted me to write about a new car.
We’d long since dumped the Motoring section of the site (not because women don’t like cars, but because we no longer had the resource available to keep it up to date). However, the PR still felt like it was the sort of story that would work fantastically for us – this car was specifically aimed at women, you see.
What could this car possibly feature that would make it so decisively women-friendly? I hear you ask. A tampon holder? A special place on the dashboard to rest your boobs on during particularly arduous, bra-free journeys?
Erm no, this car was aimed at women because… it was easy to park! And women can’t park! Everyone knows that!
It’s probably worth me pointing out now that I can’t park, but this is not because I’m a woman, it’s because I’m a cretin with zero special awareness.
I told the (female) PR that I certainly wasn’t interested in featuring her stupid, easy-to-park (probably) pink car.
When she asked why, I explained, a little more sharply than I needed to, that I was offended by the lazily sexist concept she was pedaling. She was crestfallen and I felt a bit bad – she was just the junior PR who was forced to try and flog this idiotic concept to every journo in her contacts book.
ANYWAY, I was reminded of that phone call this morning, when Phoebe pointed me in the direction of a new chocolate that Cadbury is launching – aimed expressly at women.
What sort of chocolate bar could possibly benefit women only? Does it come with added oestrogen to prevent osteoporosis in old age?
Erm no, the main hook seems to be that Crispello (for that is its name – sounds like a middle-range Italian gigolo to me), is only 165 calories and has got some wafer in it.
It also comes with three parts, because our little mouths and tiny, silly stomachs can’t cope with an entire bar of chocolate in one go.
Give us a Yorkie (Yorkies are just for men, y’all) and we risk slipping into a diabetic coma before we’re half way through, so sensitive are our delicate, female pancreases.
Did you catch the whole Bic pen for women drama this summer? Bic, purveyors of fine… biros, have released a new pen, especially for the wimmin.
Again, what could a pen for women possibly possess that makes it so perfect for us gurlz? A pregnancy test stick on the top, for those times when we just need to know, but would also like to take dictation?
Duh, don’t be silly; it’s just designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand, because our teeny tiny paws are too weedy to use normal-size pens.
They’ve got a point, you know. Have you ever seen me try to wield a ballpoint? It’s like a Borrower trying to light a safety match.
They also come in pink and purple, because clearly, THAT’S WHAT WOMEN LIKE.
Same old, same old. Except these pens were sold on Amazon, which gives users the opportunity to review their purchases. Lolz ensued, including my particular favourite:
'Pray, what is a 'pen'? I do like it so, because it is so pink, but I remain ignorant as to its practical use. Father says not to ask questions because it might give me wrinkles, and to carry on practising my charming giggle so I can one day ensnare a Duke - but I cannot help but be intrigued by the delicate pinkness of this curio. I can only assume that because it is pink, it is intended for a woman's useage. I am a woman, therefore perhaps I should have this pink so-called pen?
'Does one place it delicately in the hair? Could one perhaps keep it in a box and take it out to peer at on occasion, when Father is busy in the library (wherever that is)? Is it an appropriate subject for after-dinner conversation? Might one take it on a lovely picnic in Hyde Park?
'Naturally, we women are single-mindedly intrigued and captivated by the appearance and beauty of all things. It is almost as if my very womanhood calls out to objects of this colour and demands to be in possession of anything which combines the fascinating shading of red and white. If the 'pen' (an ugly name, I think) were not so pink, I should never have noticed it nor considered its potentialities as a purchase.'
I realise that getting in a rage over pointlessly female orientated-products is a bit passé now, but the thing is, I’m a woman, and these products do nothing for me.
The Crispello or whatever the fuck it’s called is the exact opposite of what I want in a chocolate bar. I don’t actually really love chocolate, so if I buy some, it’s because I’m having a sugar crash and need to eat something, stat.
It’s certainly not because I’m really hankering after a bit of wafer and roughly the same number of calories as you’d find in your average cucumber sandwich. I presume. I wouldn’t actually know what a calorie looked like if it tried to give me a lap dance.
Trying to flog gender-neutral products to women just by making them a bit pink is pretty laughable in itself, but what I really want to know is, who is this fictional woman advertisers and brands seem so think they’re going after?
Based on the examples above, I’d assume she:
- Lives her entire life in a flurry of baby pink and purple. - Thinks the addition of glitter to anything makes life better. Including and especially cupcakes. - Is both obsessed with chocolate and calorie counting, thus resigning herself to a lifetime of cyclical self destruction. - Has freakishly small hands. - Cannot grasp the basics of clutch control.- Probably owns a roll top bath.* - Keeps all of her old love letters in a wooden box under her bed.*
I don’t know about you, but based on the above I fail miserably at being A Woman.
I gave up wearing baby pink tracksuits for Lent in 1989, and haven’t looked back since, my hands are normal sized and I’ve never screamed in orgasmic pleasure at a shop window because I’ve seen a particularly charismatic pair of shoes winking back at me.
Is it me? Am I just an un-feminine freak who no one will ever love because I insist on wearing navy blue and really, really, really hate glitter?
Almost 500 people saw fit to review the Bic pen on Amazon, because they found the concept of a pen for women only utterly ridonkulous, so I can’t be on my own.
My theory is that the small contingent of advertising execs who rule the world have been locked in a bunker for the past two decades, and so have based all of their customer research on Sex and the City box sets, slightly stale cupcakes, and this:
Because if you’re going to insist on telling me that as a woman, I need my own special chocolate bar, or pen, or bananas, can you at least fast-forward 15 years, come up with a few new colourway options, and give something that I’m actually going to find useful?
See: car with special boob holder on the dashboard.
*Ok, I stole the last two from that Galaxy advert, but you get the idea.
What stupid shit has The Man tried to flog you, just by making it pink? Let me know below, or hit me up on Twitter @rebecca_hol.