Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

Ladies, do you realise you have been writing utter tosh with those manly pens? Well, you need not concern yourself any more. Bic, the makers of the famous ballpoint pen, have come to your rescue. The lady pen is here!

Bic has just released the ‘Bic For Her’ range of pens. They are designed with the lady in mind; slimmer barrels for delicate hands and come in a range of fashion colours including pink, purple and violet. Bic boast that their new product is ‘designed to fit comfortably into a woman’s hands’. With the release of this ‘fashionable and fun’ product has come the sarcastic wrath of hundreds of Amazon reviewers.

“This sultry stylus has finally helped me to express myself with an eloquence that, up to this point, had been reserved for men. I only wish that this product had been around for the likes of Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf and others of their ilk. Just imagine to what heights they might have soared with such a fine writing implement! I look forward to the inevitable flood of publications from female authors that these magnificent pens will enable!” Amazon reviewer.

Dear me Bic, what were you thinking! Perhaps marketing gimmick? There are only so many ways you can market a ballpoint pen. Did someone in marketing have a light bulb moment? Let’s market to the ladies with pink, purple and violet pens! Hard to resist. The sad thing is it works. Pink sells and continues to appeal to women and to girls. Pink, purple and violet are apparently women’s colours of choice.

We only have to defer to Lego to see the profitability of the ‘pink’ product. Lego launched its new pink range for girls under a barrage of criticism for gender stereotyping. They have just announced a 35% increase in sales due predominantly to their new Lego Friends line.

It seems only Hamleys are prepared to make a stand. Last year they took a step forward banishing their separate girls’ and boys’ floor. The girls’ floor, on the third floor, was traditionally pink with an abundance of dolls on display and the boys’ floor, on the fifth floor, was full of toy soldiers. There is now no longer a pink sign stating ‘Girls’ on the third floor. Hamleys did this in response to focus groups and customer feedback. They made one simple statement. "While we welcome comments from all customers and interested parties on improving Hamleys, in this case we regret that the changes to our signage were not due to any campaign."

So Hamleys stand as a lone figure no longer glaringly using gender stereotypes to sell their wares. Bic, on the other hand are merrily promoting their ‘Bic For Her’ product. There is no 'Bic For Men'. Presumably men knew all along that Bic was for them.

To all the women who write about politics maybe with a ‘Bic For Her’ pen in hand your writing will be enthused with stories of parties and castles.  No more dry politics for you.

Do we really need gender specific products? Maybe for razors, but surely not for pens!

An Amazon reviewer clearly agrees. She would much rather continue using her ‘manly pens’.

“As a womanly woman I am not sold on this product. I like to hold manly pens in my tiny delicate lady hands. It gives me a little shiver of excitement. This could never happen with a pink pen.”

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