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Egan: Pink vs. Blue  — A world of gendered marketing

BY ALEXANDRA EGAN | AUGUST 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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Though many of the sexist practices of the past have been eradicated over time, corporations, in conjunction with the media, still allow a sex binary to be enforced on a mass scale with the use of gendered marketing. This is a practice completely lacking purpose or efficiency.

While women have the same predisposition to enjoy the smell of Old Spice as a man does, the lilac deodorant at a drug store will surely be labeled “for women,” while the Old Spice will be “for men.” It is ridiculous to assume, with no greater knowledge, that a woman would only enjoy the smell of flowers or vanilla over a more traditionally “manly” odor. But the companies who continually produce such products do so with the belief that if they cater to stereotypes, it will result in larger profits.

But it isn’t just deodorant. You will find a whole isle of women’s sneakers with the predominant colors being pink, purple, or yellow, but they don’t look as if they could hold up on a soccer pitch. Though there are exceptions to this rule, they are, more often than not, designed for attractiveness over functionality. This stems from the traditional idea that women should be, first and foremost, preoccupied with appearance. They have taken the idea that women are less likely to be sporty and more likely to be materialistic, as false as it may be, and turned it into a marketing strategy.

It doesn’t just end up being a complete waste of money and time for the corporations, it also encourages men and women to be separate in all things. While a little girl might ask her parents for a race car or an action figure, she is more likely to be told that those toys are for boys and will be given a doll. The same may happen to a boy more interested in Disney princess movies than sports equipment.

This is the direct result of the marketing of such products. A television advertisement will, time and time again, show the girls playing with Barbies and the boys playing with monster trucks. The influence of advertisement, both on the package and off, stretches across generations, sexes, places, and products.

Even when these companies try to invalidate a stereotypes, they are still being oppressive and ignorant. In the world of product marketing, diet soft drinks are usually marketed for women.

Reason being, that they believe women care more about their weight or health. But just a few years ago, Dr. Pepper released a 10-calorie version of 10 soda with a new approach. In an attempt to sell more diet soda to men, it temporarily changed the advertisements tag line from “one of a kind” to “it’s not for women.” The advertisement showed a man in an action film of some sort saying, “Hey, ladies, enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie.” From there, it only gets worse.

As the action continues, he claims that those 10 calories are “manly calories” and then exclaims, “… so you can keep your romantic comedies and lady drinks; we’re good.”

Though Dr. Pepper had the opportunity to break away from the female-oriented diet-soda market and open it up to both sexes, it went in the opposite direction and made it more sexist. After all, a gunmetal-colored can and a sexist slogan isn’t going to make the soda taste any better.

Humans may be inherently prideful creatures, but I doubt the average American needs to be reminded of her or his sex (if not forced into one) by the products of large corporations that make their money selling merchandise made “for real men” or “just for her.” While the blankets in a hospital may be blue for boys and pink for girls, it is altogether ridiculous to continue such binary, exclusive, and inconsiderate gender stereotyping on a mass scale.


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