In breaking news, marketing drones continue to lack imagination, sticking to the apparently conventional wisdom that if you want women to buy things that both men and women tend to use and want, just run up a version in pink and do a fluffy/flowery/frilly ad campaign. Butterflies are good. In June last year (in an essay provoked by the launch of a special shopping flight from London to Paris named Fly Pink) the Guardian’s Vicky Frost summed up the extension of pinkification from childhood to adult women as follows:
It is now possible for women to experience their entire day in pink. You can work out with a pink yoga mat and weights; adorn your windscreen wipers with pink wiper wings; cook dinner on a pink George Foreman grill and style your hair with hot-pink hair straighteners. You can even see off would-be attackers with a powder-pink Taser gun.
My response to the whole Fly Pink concept was this photo-essay, Puking Up Pink. Documentations of the pink consumer ghetto on feminist blogs abound, especially the Pink Alley in toy departments, but it is the continued extension of pinkified marketing into the adult world which is being most keenly examined. Twisty anayses the latest version she’s found: women’s vodka.
Of course, this bottle is in hues of pinky-lavender rather than the far too common fluoro-candy-brothel pink, but that’s meant to be a nod towards sophistication; indicating that the potential consumers thereof aren’t quite as infantilised as those other pinkobots out there in girlyland. Of course you’re too grown up for candy-pink, sweetheart!
As usual, Twisty makes many excellent and provocatively phrased points.
The greater the sex-based dimorphism in commercial products, the easier it is to rationalize sex-based social discrimination. For it is upon the supposed enormous differences between men and women that our culture bases its wide approval of the concept that women’s essence justifies our ghettoization in the sex caste.
Behold the neat trick. First, you make women act like simpletons, broodmares, janitors, mannequins, and sex slaves before you grant them social approval. You call this behavior “femininity” and explain that it is their essential nature, and that any deviation from the program will be punished. Then you infantilize and ridicule the ones who get it right, and vilify and abuse the ones who get it wrong
With so much riding on it, whether femininity is performed right or wrong is an issue of enormous concern to women. That’s where the Empowerful Pink Marketing Juggernaut comes i[n].
Femininity, in fact, can’t even be practiced without stuff (which is one way of debunking the argument that it is an inherited sex trait).
That last quoted sentence is my own favourite take-home lesson from Twisty’s post. Women are naturally womanly whether they are wearing an evening gown, wearing army boots or wearing nothing. But it is impossible to be “feminine” without acquiring, using and displaying STUFF (datapoint: even naked women are oft-derided as “unfeminine” if they don’t display evidence of using depilatory products).
As this is crossposted to LP, I now await the latest instalment there of Eliot Ramsey’s tirades against all feminist theorising.