Gender-specific products unnecessary, ignorant

Opinions Columnist | Public Relations Sophomore

The gender binary reinforced by the creation and marketing of needlessly gendered products is a phenomenon that needs to cease.

The fact that there are gendered products in and of itself is quite foolish. A man’s penis will not fall off if he is caught using the gentle and girly Suave deodorant as opposed to the hard and rugged Degree deodorant. It is all the same product, just different scents. Gender does not equal a predisposition to like certain smells over others.

Many companies, aside from simply having two separate products, also advertise and market these products differently. Oftentimes in doing so, they also adhere to problematic and stereotypical gender norms. Women like pink and scented things, men like earthy toned musky things. There is no room for personal taste or nuance.

Apparently, according to advertising, if I as a guy do not want to smell like musk then I must be a woman. Conversely, if there is a woman who loves the smell of musk, apparently she has a very unconvincing penis somewhere. Why? According to these marketing schemes, men and women cannot possibly like the same things.

Most of the time, these gendered products have the exact same ingredients. Not because these companies are lazy, but simply because the needs of men and women are indistinguishable. The only real differences are the images presented by the product packaging and scent, if there is one at all.

Take for instance, the very manly lip balm Chapfix, marketed and designed for the manliest of men. Men love the ingredients of beeswax, coconut oil, aloe vera and Vitamin E to make sure their lips are nice and soft, in a manly way of course. This product is intended to be very different from the female-specific, soft and fragile, Burt’s Bees. However, a closer look will reveal that this balm “for the women” contains the same ingredients of Vitamin E, aloe vera, coconut oil and beeswax.

My point simply is, instead of saying “for men” and “for women,” there should not be any gender assigned to products. Show the ingredients or purpose of the product and let the consumer decide, regardless of gender or sex, what they want to use for themselves.

The stupidity of gendered products—men’s shampoo, women’s deodorant, men’s shaving cream, women’s ear plugs, men’s tape, women’s pens, etc. must be admonished by the society at large. They are ignorant and do nothing but further stereotypes about men and women. Nothing productive can come from this and the only concrete result will be further ignorance.