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August 30 2012

Sexist Pens?

Emily Wismer

Facebook erupted into laughter yesterday as social networks buzzed about Bic’s new pens, designed for marketing towards “Her.” The pens come in pearl colors of green, pink, purple, orange, and blue have a new, “sleek design.”

The response from the online community? A series of sarcastic, satirical online reviews that will make you blush and hold your stomach laugh. One commentator states,

Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use all month long! I use it when I'm swimming, riding a horse, walking on the beach and doing yoga. It's comfortable, leak-proof, non-slip and it makes me feel so feminine and pretty! Since I've begun using these pens, men have found me more attractive and approachable. It has given me soft skin and manageable hair and it has really given me the self-esteem I needed to start a book club and flirt with the bag-boy at my local market. My drawings of kittens and ponies have improved, and now that I'm writing my last name hyphenated with the Robert Pattinson's last name, I really believe he may some day marry me! I'm positively giddy. Those smart men in marketing have come up with a pen that my lady parts can really identify with.

Another reviewer shares:

Who wants a pen that bleeds 7 days out of the month? And then one day the ink turned blue and that really freaked me out. I should have known – [it s]tarted up pen mingling with all those man pens in my mug...

Many of the posts shared these authors’ disdain for stereotypic, targeted, marketing that comes in “feminine” colors that would likely show up in Target’s little girl’s toddler section. This kind of marketing is not representative of most of the “Hers” who will be purchasing the pens.

Bic’s marketing focus groups and research failed to reveal women do not want to be stereotyped as preferring juvenile colors and design.  It can’t help that the product of choice is a tool for learning, knowledge, work, and the development of depth of thought.

Was Bic’s marketing condescending, stereotypical, and offensive? These might be overstating the issue. I don’t believe Bic was attempting to instigate a “war on women” with the goal of subjecting women to the kitchen, drawing butterflies with their new pink and purple pens.

Yet their marketing choice hit a nerve with many women who seem to be getting sick of this kind of pandering.  Can we hope that this might possibly extend to the political sphere and women may see through equally insulting “war on women” campaign tactics?

Bic’s revenues and sales will determine if it was a smart business decision, but the online review forums have provided a venue for women to put their intelligence and independence on display – values that are much more appealing that pink, purple, and shiny new pens.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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