Erica Hateley explains that “gender emerges as early as the fifth century as a term for differentiating between types-especially those of people and words” (Hateley, 86).
Gendered stereotypes are always around us and today large businesses are using both men and women as a way to market their products explicitly aimed to influence specific genders in ways that are belittling.
Throughout our history, girls are taught at a very young age, how to act, how to play, and are given idea that women are small and delicate. In Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder tends to display certain characteristics that do not fall in the “girly” category. For example, as the cowboy was riding away, Laura mentioned that she “wishes she was a cowboy”. This portrays that she is interested in being adventurous and wants to act in ways that contradicts the societal expectations of a little girl. Laura and her sister Mary often have to help their mother in caring for their younger sister, cleaning, cooking, washing the clothes, and washing the dishes. These tasks were expected to be performed each day because that was what was expected of young girls and women at the time.
The way society depicts women is not always fair. Specifically speaking, women tend to be stereotyped in certain ways that set expectations for women in a negative and degrading way. Whether it be materializing women’s bodies in commercials, or marketing products that fit a “girly” stereotype, one cannot avoid being subjected to this material. Ellen’s video following up on BIC’ s release of a pen “for women”, identifies several ways women are subjected in today’s world.
This specific pen “for women” creates several stereotypes just from their advertising. They create the expectation that the colors: pink and purple, are only meant for women and the only colors that women should use. These pens create the expectation that women are small and fragile by explicitly stating that their pen is reengineered to better fit a women’s hand. The pen is simply smaller and slimmer compared to the other BIC pens at stores. It also implicitly supports women who have smaller body frames as the ideal style. This pen disregards the fact that just like men, women too have a range of body shapes and sizes. As Erica Hateley states in Keywords, “there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to gender or subjectivity” (Hateley, 91). This, then poses a few questions, what if you identify yourself as a girl, but simply don’t have an interest in the color pink? Or, you identify as a boy, but want to have a purple or pink pen. How does the label “for her” change the opinion of the buyer?