TW: gender binary, normative gender roles, sexism
it's 2016 and the online press is full of breaking news about the more and more loose idea of gender in our society.
the normative, binary attributes of femininity and masculinity are interchanging.
we have started acknowledging that there's more than just two gender expressions, and that it doesn't always have to be only one category you belong to.
unisex bathrooms are spreading across cities, regions, countries.
clothes have become genderless.
but it's also 2016 and brands are still marketing their products in a very, um, old-fashioned, extremely gendered way.
let me give you a few examples:
Aurosa, "the first beer for women"
i mean, just the idea of a special beer for women is stupid, right? but wait, it gets even better if you open their website:
"Aurosa is a product of a country that is known for its good quality in the brewery area. Our brand was customized to the needs of women, despite the fact that the beer industry is rather masculine affair. [...] The Aurosa beer is the epitome of the contrast between the world of a strong man and a woman delicacy."
"This is not an ordinary beer. It's a lifestyle for women. Women, who knew how to adapt to the speed of the male world, but chose to maintain their delicate and very mysterious character."
(source: Aurosa's website)
to top that, their Instagram is full of pink-tinted images, references to the French aesthetics and Vogue. all the "fragile women" on the pictures are white and skinny, of course, and mostly blonde. the official hashtag is #beerforher.
wow – i, a clueless, fragile woman, am so glad that someone has finally (!!!) invented beer that my sensitive, fragile female tastebuds can actually appreciate so that i don't have to either drink that horrible, strong beer for the strong men i admire so much or abstain from alcohol in general. and wow, it's sold in a tasteful, delicate bottle with a logo in a romantic, ornamented font? i will so put that on a shelf above my soft bed with satin pink sheets, right next to a vase full of light pink roses and a framed b&w picture of the Eiffel Tower. oh, it costs 7x more than regular beer? no worries, i as a female am too busy being so fragile and delicate that i don't really care if you're overcharging me, because i simply don't know what the price of a regular beer is, i mean, beer is a masculine affair, why should i know, DUH. i am just really happy that someone has finally figured out what the needs of a simple fragile woman are!!
only that i'm not, of course. obviously, not only beer, but any drink is suitable to anyone regardless of their gender. you either like it or don't, and that's it. gender is a social construct, so, in fact, what's considered feminine or masculine is pretty much only a false creation. the persona of a strong male and a fragile female? excuse me, it's not the 18th century anymore!
at first glance, it seems amazing – a new long-lasting razor with a sleek, minimalist design that is also eco-friendly? i'm in! (btw, you can read why i switched to an old-fashioned metal razor with replaceable razorblades here)
well, but then i checked RZR's website and, again, i got pretty much shocked.
"RZR is a brand new company that develops and manufactures shaving products for men only" (the "for men only" part is originally put in bold)
"Lubra strips are great......for shaving your legs."
(source: RZR's website)
"If you are a man with high quality standards, values beautiful design, finds sustainable important, makes his own choices and is looking for a better value for money: back this product."
(source: RZR's twitter)
see, i'd love to back this product. to be honest, i'd totally consider buying this overpriced razor (89 euros; i got mine for approx. 20...) just because of the exquisite design and the sustainability behind it. but, damn, i'm not a cis man with a beard, therefore i don't need a proper razor, i guess? funnily enough, the society tells me that i actually need to shave more body parts than an average male. but no, i'm totally fine with the cheap disposable razors the company slams so much. i'm a woman, and it'll do. yay!
of course, there are more and more brand examples i could pinpoint here and more and more sarcastic comments i could make. but calling brands out is not exactly my point here.
what is the purpose of this article then?
simply to say that products do not have any specific gender, and therefore pretty much anyone can use them if they decide to do so.
by choosing a very gender-specific marketing strategy, the brand reinforces the same old gender norms that are steadily dissolving now, and shuns away a possibly big group of potential customers.
it's 2016 and gender is not what it used to be.
dear marketers, try to keep up!