“The best a man can get”…the the words roll around in your head for a moment. Do they sound familiar, or maybe feel like they should be sung? They should, they’re part of a jingle that Gillette has been using since 1988. I’ve heard the jingle countless times over the years but until recently I hadn’t given it another thought.Perhaps because of all the attention that is being given in the past few months to inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harrassment by men in a position of power, toward both women as well as other men, I’m on heightened alert. But when I heard it the other day it suddenly rankled with me – why just the best a man can get? Why not a woman? Do women also not deserve their best shave at an equal level? So I sent them a tweet, not really expecting a response. To my surprise, they not only responded but rather quickly (before 3 pm that day):
I understand companies make and market things specifically for women, and that there can be a legitimate reason for doing so. Bicycle saddles are one thing that immediately come to mind. Because our pelvises are shaped differently, and what is called our ‘sit bones’ end up being in different places, as a woman you want to have a bike saddle that is designed specifically for maximum comfort. (Your sit bones are the bones in your butt that come into contact with the saddle when you sit on it. Google it for pictures if you need to.) But razors? Really? I’ve used a Gillette Quattro for years, as noted above, and really don’t see any reason not to. I’ve peeked at the Venus website, and see a lot of cutesey colors for women and a couple of things that seem to be invented to try to get women to think they need this line because it’s better for a woman’s delicate legs and curves than a “man’s” version. Seriously? Come on, Gillette, get into the 21st Century. At least it doesn’t appear that they’ve put a “tampon tax” on the base razors, however the refills are another story. Comparing the prices for a 3 blade refill (5 count), at Target the Mach3 costs $9.99 and the ComfortGlide Vanilla Creme Scented refills (I swear I am not making this up!) are $14.99 – for 4. The Venus Swirl,a 5 blade razor, is marketed as “adjusting to every curve” is $29.49 for 6 refills! You could buy the Fusion 5 razor with the flexball technology, which adjusts to curves as well and then your refills would be between $14.99-17.99 for 4, depending on which blade you picked. Talk about a ridiculous “tampon tax” (and another reason I keep using my plain handle) or gender based price discrimination.
Other places this price discrimination shows up is in personal care services such as hair salons and dry cleaning. Some salons will use the excuse that women’s hair is longer and more difficult to cut and/or maintain, therefore they will charge more. My recommendation is to find a stylist with the following motto: “I don’t care how much hair falls on the other side of my scissors, here is what it costs.” That’s what one I used told me a number of years ago, meaning she didn’t care if it was a trim or full on cut, man or woman. It was all the same price. Some dry cleaners are doing better now and giving the same prices for clothing, just charging higher if something is specifically delicate. I wonder if perhaps our ability to have a voice like this and raise awareness quickly through the media is why. 20 or 30 years ago before the internet, there might have been an article in a magazine, or a newspaper, and folks would get annoyed and mad, but then it would die down. Today with something appearing online and links being emailed, tweeted and retweeted and going viral in hours and days (Dear God, may I please have a blog article written so well that this one day happens to me?) there is power in our online words.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I like being a girly-girl. I’ll dress up, put on make up, hose and heels, a little perfume and lipstick and I like looking nice and hope that in addition to my husband telling me I look nice, I might even turn a stranger’s head. But it just hacks me off if I feel like something is being marketed or sold to me just because I’m female, and for no other reason than that, or if it’s assumed that because I’m a woman I’ll like something pink, or frilly/lacy or delicate. Go into any hardware store and you can find tools that are marketed “for her”. I’m not talking about the ones with slightly smaller grips, or lighter in weight either. Nope, they’ll be in delicate girly colors like pink, or light blue, which is just so doggone important to me when I’m rewiring an outlet you know, or putting in a new light fixture, both of which I have done successfully and on my own without help from anyone, and NOT using a pink or blue tool. I have, however used the impact driver we own which is from Milwaukee in a lovely unisex red. (A really big thanks to my honey, great purchase you made! A thousand apologies to you for my ever doubting we needed it.)
What are some things you’ve seen that are marketed to women that really shouldn’t be? Have you ever tried communicating back to the manufacturer about it? I’d love to hear what happened!