This is a short segment from Ellen, in which she criticizes Bic for a marketing tactic they used based on gender. My initial reaction was total agreement. The idea that a pen would be specifically made for women is ludicrous, and basing a product on this idea seems offensive and at its most basic level unimaginative. Having said that, is the idea that women might want a pen that is slimmer, or a different color really so oppressive? I have not conducted any surveys, but I am confident that on average, women have smaller hands than men. I am confident that many women like the colors pink and purple. Ellen’s problem is not with this idea, but with the implication that women need a different pen from men, because women are different from men.
I (tentatively) believe that Ellen’s critique is exemplary of the overstepping that can occur in sociological criticism. Ellen links this one implication about pen use to every oppressive message women have ever faced. Obviously, she is being facetious and hyperbolic, but her point seems to be that any gender discrimination connotes all gender discrimination that has ever existed.
I understand that the only way to end gender discrimination is to actively search for it, identify it, and stamp it out across all fields of life, but here Ellen demonizes an entire company for one product. Maybe a better way to end discrimination is to actively avoid demonizing and denouncing it, but to simply identify and educate. After all, is it really so crazy to suggest that modern women like pink? Not that women biologically like pink, or all women all love pink, but simply that some women might prefer pink? And if I made a Bic Pen for Men which was thicker and navy blue, what would that product imply?
I just want to add that I realize my argument seems to run somewhat contrary to the narrative of the class thus far, and I absolutely welcome any other takes on the issue of over-criticism and demonization of discrimination, as I don’t fully know where I stand on it.
Uploaded by TheEllenShow “Bic Pens for Women” The Ellen Degeneres Show. Oct. 12, 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCyw3prIWhc&feature=player_embedded&noredirect=1>