As some of you might know, I’m an occasional contributor at Mamiverse. My most recent article with them, “Crazy Tech Gadgets for Women,” was assigned in a rather open-ended way with the goal of sharing tech gadgets specifically for women.
So I searched. And I searched. And I searched some more and I found what I listed there, but in my search, I found a lot of the color pink. So. Much. Pink. And if it wasn’t pink, it featured Hello Kitty’s undeniably adorable mug. Or it was covered in bling. Or animal print. Or it was a blinged out Hello Kitty on a pink zebra striped background.
I think you get my drift.
And I think my cousin (who I’ll refer to as Shmashmannah until I know she’s cool with me mentioning her on the interwebs) and my sister just exploded at the thought of their dream laptop case.
Anyway, the gadgets that were marketed to women specifically weren’t MADE for women. They were just being packaged to seem more “accessible” or “appealing” to women. But why? Why do marketers latch onto this notion? Guys add cases to their laptops/phones/MP3 players, too. Why does there have to be a subset of products “for her” at all? I’m perplexed and, if you couldn’t already tell, a little disgruntled by this trend.
But the thing is, I’m not the only one. A kind of extreme, but very recent and visible example of this, is a certain pen company which released a new product “for her” and let’s just say the response was… enthusiastic. Why? Because it’s a pen. For her. Because women obviously didn’t want to write and weren’t even capable of writing before they had pens that were pink and sparkly. Harper Lee who? Virginia Woolf? PUH-LEASE.
And that’s the thing. When technology and/or design is truly great, it transcends gender, race, orientation, and serves people as a whole. So when technology is marketed to women, it’s not FOR women, it’s just packaged differently, as though (and here’s where the feminist in me comes out swinging) using said technologies wasn’t appealing until it was “pretty.” Even the items I list in my article (let’s just take the necklace flash drives and MP3 player handbags to keep us all on the same page) are not the technologies themselves, but are accessories. They’re different, utilitarian ways of dressing up and using the core technology (which is why I’m not going off about them – they fused utility with aesthetic and created something that is suited to women without just painting it a different color and acting like it’s something “just for us!!”).
Take Apple products for example. *Disclaimer: Yes, I’m an Apple
user junkie and I have been for years, now.* Apple develops/implements user-friendly operating systems. Simple, intuitive, beautiful. Added bonus? Gorgeous design.
Yeah, but you’re going to put a pink case on your iPhone, right?
Just headdesked so hard at my own snarky devil’s advocate side-voice.
The point is, they don’t make products “for her.” They make great products that sell themselves on design and on merit. People make them their own with stylized cases, but the case isn’t formed to the male or female hand because, aside from average size, MALE AND FEMALE HANDS AREN’T DIFFERENT.
Now maybe this is just a me thing. Maybe it’s because I’m not crazy about the color pink and my bedroom doesn’t look like the pink fairy stopped in and exploded *cough my sister and Shmashmannah both cough*. I know that some women are into the sparkly/pink/Hello Kitty/animal print thing. But that doesn’t mean all women are. So this is for you, marketing/packaging/design companies:
All women are not the same. We don’t have the same tastes. We don’t like the same styles. Designing something “for women” is really a disservice to your own brand, because frankly, it looks like you just can’t collectively think creatively enough to develop a product that any and everyone would like*. I’m not saying not to make things in pink or animal print or sparkles or Hello Kitty. I know that it sells, otherwise it wouldn’t exist. I’m just saying not to say something is “for women” if it doesn’t actually serve a gender-specific purpose.
*Sorry for the alliteration.