Badvertising: Just For Men

Badvertising: Just For Men

Several months back, I remember reading a spate of articles about the travesty that is childrens’ toy marketing. Parents and feminists alike railed against the gender conformity to be found in the aisles at retailers across the country – according to many toy makers and sellers, blue is for boys, pink is for girls, chemistry sets are pursuits best left to the men and the little women-folk should prepare for their futures with color-coordinated Easy Bake Ovens. If the comments at the end of these articles are any indication, the general public doesn’t agree. Whew!

As a result of the uproar, Toys ‘R Us UK made the decision to curtail their gender marketing. A cute little girl weighed in and got thousands of page views on the strength of her plea for gender neutral toy marketing. Countless articles have been written on the subject, almost all with one directive in mind – a call to action for marketers to quit pigeon-holing our youth into gender normative roles and to accept the fact that while some little girls want to be pretty princesses, others are more inclined to play with bugs. That while some boys are of the rough-and-tumble sporty variety, others are more comfortable dreamily painting unicorns.

It’s nice to see that the public is starting recognize the diverse array of interests represented in our young folks. Now if only they could do the same for the adults.

I was perusing One King’s Lane the other day and I came across these adorable bike bookends. Check them out. Cute, right? I was thisclose to pulling the trigger when I happened to glance upward, where I noticed the “Gifts for Him” tag at the top of the page. And got royally annoyed. What exactly makes this product man-exclusive? As a woman, which am I not supposed to dig? Books? Bicycles? I happen to love both, thanks.

Granted, I am speaking as the weird girl in high school who wore men’s cologne (Cool Waters by Davidoff, because I was way awesome, and not at all ridiculed on a regular basis) and have always been drawn to nubby tweeds and elbow patches on my blazers. Still, I refuse to believe that book learning and biking are strictly manly pursuits.

One Kings’ Lane isn’t the only retailer to fall in to this marketing trap. Take a look at the Kindle Magazines page on I’ll even give you a side-by-side:

men's interest magazines - amazin

You’ll notice that Men’s Interest encompasses science and technology, in addition to the requisite men’s fashion mags. Cool, right?

Now take a look at the Women’s Interest section.

women's interest magazines - amazon

It’s a little disappointing. When exactly was it decided that as a woman, I’m not allowed to like science and technology? That the sum of my parts is only worthy of articles on how to make a perfect pot roast, and how to please my man in the sack? (Not that I am opposed to knowing these things.) Did I miss the memo? Did my ovaries cancel my subscription to Wired while I was sleeping? Tricky little buggers.

On the flip side, when did we decide that men aren’t interested in self-improvement or parenthood? (I’m on board with letting them off the hook on the pregnancy magazines. Because, you know, anatomy.)

I know it seems as though I’ve been ranting a bit lately. But there is something rotten in the state of marketing today and by the way, this post isn’t actually a rant – it’s a plea. (If it looks like a rant and smells like a rant… I know.) A plea for marketers, many of whom I am proud to call my brethren and my friends, to get it together. To realize that while I may like to look at pretty shoes from time to time, that is not all of who I am. I am a woman who likes science and the color blue and I like knowing that my voice is heard amongst the cacophony of voices clamoring for attention in the marketing universe.

Think about it, marketing thought-leaders. In the meantime, I’m going to go ride my bike and maybe read a book.

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