BIC PENS “FOR WOMEN”

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?

2 thoughts on “BIC PENS “FOR WOMEN””

  1. OMG I love Ellen. I’m glad she made fun of BIC. They are capitalizing on women’s desire to be feminine… I think? I’m trying to understand why someone would pay double for a pen just because of a color and shape. Same reason we buy a fitted T instead of a Hanes 6-pack? That is the closest I can get. Humans like to buy an image for themselves. So I guess it’s clever of BIC to try to make extra money that way; I’m sure it works on some. But for the open minds out there, I don’t think we’ll be hunting out any curvy shapes or feminine colors. If it gets the ink on the paper I could care less what’s housing it.

  2. Maddy,

    This is great I am so glad you posted this. Ellen has been a love of mine for such a long time and for reasons like this. Like we talked about in discussion why do the colors pink and purple have to be only for “girls”? Why are they always associated with being “girly”? This brand has validated the stereotypes we are fighting so hard to get rid of nowadays. This is like taking 2 steps back. I think it’s terrible that the brand also writes on the back on the packaging that it is “designed for a women’s hand”? This completely disregards the fact that not all women are the same. Not all women are dainty and have tiny “womenly” hands as this add is telling. What does this mean? What does this mean for women who have larger hands? This will create insecurities in women who may think that their hands don’t fit the ideal these pens are putting across. I guess a question to add would be, as a girl would you buy these pens before seeing this ad? And after seeing it would you feel differently than the way you answered at first? Do you need a pen that fits your gender? Is that really necessary?

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