Items “For Her”: Is It Really Necessary to Have a “For Her” Version of Consumer Products?

Because apparently my ladybrain can't figure out how to use a pen. Credit to AdWeek.

Because apparently my ladyhands are too delicate to use a pen. Credit to AdWeek.

As the holiday season picks up speed and consumerism drives people to the shopping malls and the department stores looking for presents for loved ones, I think it might be appropriate to bring up the issue of “for her” products.

“So what are ‘for her’ products?” you may ask.

“For her” products are essentially products that have been “redesigned” in such a way as to become more “feminine”. In many cases, this involves a more slender design (because apparently women’s hands are much too small to handle the “big boy” toys like a power drill), and often features a large palette consisting solely of shades of pink and purple. The above image of Bic For Her pens is a prime example on how this works — a product which is inherently unisex is “remade” with more “feminine” features in order to appeal to female consumers.

Some other examples of “for her” products:

A "for her" gun, because  you need to know at a glance if a gun belongs to a woman or not.

A “for her” gun, because apparently you need to know at a glance if a gun belongs to a woman or not. And what better way to do so than to make the entire gun PINK!, right? Credit to Decantis Holster.

A "for her" tool set, because apparently women are allergic to anything that's not pink. Credit to Survival Supply.

A “for her” tool set, because apparently women are allergic to anything that’s not pink. Credit to Survival Supply.

A "for her" laptop, because women won't know a laptop was made for them unless it's PINK. Credit to Trade Tang

A “for her” laptop, because apparently women can’t use a computer unless it’s covered in PINK! and feminized in such a way that a man can know not to touch lest he risk getting LADY COOTIES. Credit to Trade Tang

You get the idea.

“Now what’s the problem with pink products, Alice? Wouldn’t some people really want to have a pink product?”

And to that, I say that there’s nothing inherently wrong with “for her” products on its own. Having a product that happens to be colored pink or purple or whatever is the issue here.

No, the issue isn’t the fact that there are pink products. The real issue is that these products are pink, and are solely intended to be marketed for women to purchase. And that’s problematic, for a few reasons:

  1. it implies that the regular product is inherently masculine and for men. This enforces a gender binary and establishes gender characteristics for products that are otherwise unisex. This is extremely problematic when you see what products are made “for women”: guns, tool sets, pens, laptop computers, etc. — products that are used in “masculine” careers such as police officer, mechanic, computer scientist, etc.
  2. It implies that women are otherwise uninterested in doing certain things (learning how to shoot, using a computer, writing, etc.) unless it’s been “feminized”. This further enforces said gender binary.
  3. It’s insulting. What is the difference between a Bic For Her pen and a Dr. Grip pen (which I use on a near daily basis), or a Bic For Her pen and one of their many other pen products that they sell? Nothing. The fact that apparently I won’t know that I could use a pen (or how to use one) unless it’s specifically made for me insults my intelligence and mocks women for being so “inferior” that they need special products for themselves.

So people. If you’re going to buy a present for your lady friends, unless your friend really, really, really loves pink, can you just buy us the regular products? We’ll know that those presents are intended for us, and we can figure out how to use it, thanks.

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3 thoughts on “Items “For Her”: Is It Really Necessary to Have a “For Her” Version of Consumer Products?

  1. Malitia

    Boring personal anecdote time:

    I run into this phenomenon first* when I bought my last cellphone (2009) and got offered an aggressively pink one… I opted for the unisex (black) version. I still can’t wrap my head around why they thought I would like that, except me being a woman. I had nothing pink on or with me… or even anything that wasn’t either soft pastel or earth colored. O.o

    * I don’t shop much and was a child in the 80s-90s.

  2. Alice Sanguinaria Post author

    I remember running into this looking at catalogs as a child. All of the toys for girls were published in pink pages, while all the toys for boys were printed on blue pages. I was used to it, but I’ve been questioning it since. Why does pink = girl? It didn’t used to be that way.

  3. Malitia

    I was also a child on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain ^^; Fun fact: I wanted a cat plushie when I was 6 or so and my mom couldn’t get one because the supply consisted almost exclusively of teddy bears.

    Because planed economy.
    If you aren’t bound to market forces and must produce X of something to fulfill the plan minimizing variations is a good way to cut costs. This as a side-effect pretty much made “For Her” not a thing. Pink aisles in toy stores began being noticeable in the 90s (after the fall of communism).

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