The Price of Pink

After not being ‘driven to the edge of orgasm by the mere sight of a pink bottle’ CECI MOURKOGIANNIS thinks there’s something wrong with the way ad-campaigns target women.

Advertising bic cadburys Ceci Mourkogiannis crispello feminsm flight of the conchords gender gender inequality Lucozade venus

Is Marx gettin’ ya down? Can’t quite squeeze out those last 374 words on inheritance practices among Tyrolese peasants? Hand cramping up after a long night spent converting Boolean expressions into truth tables?

Got a vagina?

Then this pen could be the answer to your prayers:

BiC’s effort to boost sales of its signature Cristal pen by launching a range of sparkly pink biros ‘designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand’ has been ridiculed by thousands of Amazon customers amused by the prospect of Lady-pens.

‘No more heavy, regular man pens for me!!!’ wrote Amazon user Jane, ‘Now I can write my grocery lists and love letters to my husband, no matter what time of the month it is!’.

Daveyclayton found that the BiC For Her was no good for MAN hands:

‘I bought this pen (in error, evidently) to write my reports of each day’s tree felling activities in my job as a lumberjack. It is no good. It slips from between my calloused, gnarly fingers like a gossamer thread gently descending to earth between two giant redwood trunks.’

But BiC isn’t the only company to have somersaulted onto the pink bandwagon in recent months. The good people at Lucozade have accompanied the launch of their new Pink Lemonade energy drink with an ad-campaign featuring a woman apparently driven to the edge of orgasm by the mere sight of a pink bottle.

Meanwhile, Cadbury’s is attempting to woo weight-conscious women by releasing its first chocolate bar explicitly marketed at women.

Aside from having a really stupid name that sounds like something you should get checked at a sexual health clinic, the Crispello’s USP is an insult to the womb-carrying 50% of the population it’s marketed at.

Not only is the Crispello low-cal, but it also comes with a pioneering inbuilt will-power-substitution-device guaranteed to keep those pesky female cocoa cravings from interfering with your Weight Watchers regime. Each of the three separate portions comes wrapped in a re-sealable package designed to prevent those consumers lacking Y-chromosomes from sudden onset serotonin syndrome caused by ingesting too much chocolate at once. According to a Cadbury spokesman, the packaging will appeal to women because it means that ‘they can consume a little at a time rather than in one go.’ Right.

When pondering the genesis of these kinds of idiotic consumer products my imagination tends to whisk me away me to a generic boardroom filled with bespectacled yuppies snorting lines of Pro Plus while sucking manically on Nicorette inhalers. Every now and again one of them leaps up and scribbles something silly on the board like “LET’S CALL IT SOMETHING THAT RHYMES WITH HELLO”, and the others nod their heads and jitter in agreement. A Crispello is born.

But while it’s easy to poke fun at sparkly she-pens and chocolate bars injected with an extra dose of self-restraint, bear in mind that the BiC For Her is just the tip of a very substantial, not to mention profitable, iceberg.

Because “pink” comes at a premium. Women are not only being pitched stupid ‘female-friendly’ products that bare no relation whatsoever to their sex, they’re also paying more for the pleasure of being insulted. The consumer ‘vagina tax’, as Marie Clare are calling it, may not be at the top of the feminist agenda, but being more aware of gendered pricing is something we can all do to save a bit of cash and send a message to brand-leaders in the process.

If you’re a lady-shaver, you’ve probably spent a small fortune on hair-removal paraphernalia over the years. You may also remember seeing this ad-campaign from Gillette Venus –

– or an article in Cosmopolitan a while back that warned women not to borrow their boyfriends’ blades, lest their silky ladies legs be torn to shreds by hunky man-blades.  [Coincidentally, Gillette Venus is one of Cosmopolitan’s biggest advertisers].

Given that Gillette owns the Venus brand, what possible motivation could it have for encouraging women to use their own line of razors? Well, of course, women’s razors and cartridges cost more, and tend to have shorter shelf-lives due to that weird sticky gooey stuff they put in between the blades. The Venus Embrace may have the same blades as Gillette Fusion Power, but you’ll be spending about 30% more per blade. You’re a woman, spend like one.

Perhaps it’s the more insidious kind of sexism represented by the ‘pinkification’ of the consumer goods market that may actually be more harmful to the plight of feminism in the long-run than outright misogyny, for the simple reason that it can lurk undetected and unopposed for years while remaining omnipresent in our culture.

It’s strangely hard to intelligently vilify a pink deodorant can, whereas anyone could explain to you why this retro ad is offensive:

We’re living in an age of stealth sexism and the ever-increasing range of pointlessly gendered products – which includes a growing number of gendered items targeted at men and, more importantly, little boys and girls – is a tell tale sign that we’re losing the battle to broaden the spectrum of gender identities represented in the public sphere.

Let’s just hope that this isn’t the kind of thing we have to look forward to: