Category Archives: Musing

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.


The Unfortunate Implications of the Anti-Vaccine Claim of “Vaccines Cause Autism!!!”

Today I was walking home from class and mulling over various issues when my mind happened to think about the anti-vaccine “VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM!1!!” gambit.

You know this one: the so called “link” between vaccines and autism, and how you’re better off not vaccinating your kids because ZOMG AUTISM IS SO HORRIBLE.

And you know what? Pondering over the subject, I realized that the claim that vaccines cause autism and that you’re better off not vaccinating your kids is actually full of very unfortunate implications.

(This might have been partially inspired by the TVTropes page on unfortunate implications. I can verify that TVTropes WILL ruin your life.)

What happened the night before. Credit to xkcd.

What happened to me the night before, when I was supposed to do Latin homework (damn you TVTropes). Credit to xkcd, used under a CC BY-NC license.

Unfortunate implication: autism is DA WORST THING EVER and it’s better for a kid to be dead than to be autistic because disabilities are SO TERRIBLE, especially for the parents, because their “real child” has been “lost” and that no “real child” has disabilities.

Disclosure: I have a mild form of autism (formerly Asperger’s before the DSM got rid of that category and put it in the autism spectrum on the high functioning end).

So to me, this is actually pretty personal. And offensive.

I can totally sympathize with parents whose kids were recently diagnosed with autism. Seriously, finding out that your child will be facing some difficulties that isn’t their fault (to put it lightly) sucks. Feeling helpless sucks. You want to help your child, and that’s totally normal.

But the “disabilities are inherently bad and we need to make sure that no one else ends up disabled, even if it means that the kid might die” just smacks of WARNING, HIGHLY OFFENSIVE.

What it does is to enforce the paradigm that people with disabilities are “lesser” and not as human as the neurotypical people. It enforces the idea that if you’re disabled, you’re better off dead because how the hell can you stand to live knowing that you have a disability?

And it leads to the idea that risking preventable diseases (that can totally kill your kid!), autism biomed, chelation therapy, Lupron therapy, and even outright murder is totally justifiable, because hey, your kid wasn’t “normal” (whatever that means), and you just wanted to make them better, even if it means causing them further suffering in the process.

Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s some pretty serious unfortunate implication stuff right there.

And that stuff’s offensive.

Anti-vaxxors: no, you do not speak for me or for people like me when you claim that autism is caused by vaccines (which is totally not true by the way, this being one of the many studies on the topic). Nor do you speak for me when you then start saying that it’s better to risk death than to get your kid vaccinated because autism is so terrible.

That stuff is ableist as hell. And I want no part of it.

People: please, please get your vaccines. The world will be better off with it.

Reflection: On Living Asian in a Caucasian World

Sorry for not getting to a post last night. Let’s just say that there’s a reason why I should have started on my Latin homework during the holiday.

Anyways. Today, I’m not going to mock/debunk anything. Instead I’m just going to muse on growing up living in a Caucasian world.

I grew up in a minority-majority community. My neighborhood was full of East Asians, my elementary school was majority East Asians, my section of the town that I grew up in was mostly East Asians and Latinos, etc.

It’s not like I wasn’t aware that white people existed. It’s just that all around me, Asian culture (and a small amount of Latino culture) was everywhere. As the Autumn Moon Festival in mid-September closed in every year, all of the Asian supermarkets near me (and there were so many!) had a display for mooncakes. Boxes and boxes of mooncakes, just sitting in a huge table covered in red cloth. Same thing for Chinese New Year: we’d have a display of traditional New Year goodies, and the banks would give out red envelopes for lai see. Mother and father and neighbors and family would give my brother and me lai see, because we were children and single, and we’d count up how much we got every year.

We spoke Cantonese at home. Where I grew up, many of the people I got to know knew how to speak another language: Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Spanish, etc. The idea of people speaking English-only at home was foreign to me, abnormal.

My friends and I would joke about Asian pressure to succeed. One of the recurring jokes we had was that A was Average and F was Funeral. You can imagine what we made up for the other letters. Doing well in school wasn’t just expected, it was the norm. If you didn’t do well in school, you shamed your parents and yourself.

I didn’t really see a lot of white people at school. White people were just there, just a glimmer of blue eyes and green eyes and curls and blonde hair and red hair and light brown hair and pale skin without the hint of yellow and freckles and whatnot. What I saw every day was a variety of people, the majority of them with a hint of yellow or a hint of brown, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, hair straighter than arrows. This was normal to me.

Even then, though, in school we’d learn about the achievements of white people. We’d see white people in the media, in books, in pictures, on the movie screen, on the TV screen (when it’s not turned to one of the many Asian language channels that were on the air). Sometimes we’d see black people. Sometimes we’d see Latinos. Very rarely would we see Asians.

In history class, we touched on Asian-related history three times: yellow peril, the Japanese internment camps, and the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Yellow peril, because people were scared of all of the Chinese people, which led to the Chinese Exclusion act and the Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan.

Japanese internment camps, because during World War 2, everyone was scared of the Japanese and thought that they weren’t real citizens and that they weren’t loyal to the United States. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team disproved it, of course, but YELLOW PEOPLE.

And the nuclear bombs, because that was what ended World War 2.

And that was it for an AP US history course.

At some point, I realized that Asians were invisible, or at least very well hidden.

Now, I knew Asians existed. I grew up Asian and I can see Asian people just by looking in the mirror.

But in the world of sitcoms and blockbusters, Asians were mostly non-existent. If an Asian showed up, for the most part either he was a kung-fu master, she was an Asian hooker, he was a wise asshole, she was a bimbo, he was UBER SMART, she was demure and submissive, he was a nerd, she was a Tiger Mom, and so on. There was usually just one Asian. All of them were stereotypes.

Even when the show’s set in a world where it’s half Asian, Asians don’t make up any part of the main cast.

Statistics? For the most part, statistics went like this: white (non-Hispanic), white (Hispanic), black (non-Hispanic), black (Hispanic). Or they’ll just have white, black, Hispanic. Sometimes they’ll have American Indian. It’s not often that Asian shows up, and when it does, it’s often left simply as “Asian/Pacific Islander”.

Books? Most books feature white protagonists. It’s difficult to find anyone who ISN’T white as a whole on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Marketing? Mostly to white people. If they make any mention of Asian culture at all, it’s about Panda Express (whitewashed “Chinese” food), it’s about how you can “learn secrets from the Orient”, it’s about “traditional Chinese medicine”, it’s about a mystical land far far away, about how we’re so backwards that we haven’t advanced one step ever since the Chinese came up with the compass and paper a few thousand years ago, how everyone should aspire to be more like the backwards Asians who haven’t caught up with the West yet. Asian culture isn’t normal, it’s so special and different from civilization that you have to want to aspire to be “exotic”.

Sushi is too weird when it has raw fish. Jasmine rice belongs into the international food aisle in the supermarket, alongside soy sauce, fish sauce, rice paper wrappers, Mama instant ramen, Hi Chew, Pocky, and sesame oil. And of course, that’s in competition with Hispanic and Greek and Indian and Italian imports.

Sex? Asian men are sexless. Asian women are a fetish to go after, something for the Mighty Whitey to impress and awe so that she’ll serve you and give you amazing blowjobs for the rest of your life. And they’re all the same, interchangeable.

That’s when you realize that you’re not white. And because you’re not white, you’re “special”—so special that you’re marginalized, a part of a single entity, a yellow blur instead of an individual face in the midst of yellows and browns.

Alienation is sort of inevitable. After a few years of this, you realize that you’re an other, you’re not normal, you’re exotic, you’re different from everyone else.

And that’s when you realize that the “we live in a post-racial world” thing is a lie.