What is discrimination? (Bic Pens for Women)

I saw a commercial for “Bic for her “ pens, designed specifically for women. Ellen DeGeneres criticizes these pens on her show.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/bic-for-her-commercial-pens-ad-video_n_1872277.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCyw3prIWhc

Ellen makes a mock commercial, in which a girl says that she can’t handle “man pens,” and instead needs a “bic for her pen.” “Even a woman” can use these, Ellen says, because they are easy to use. She states that if her daughter has an opinion, she can “write it down and crumple it up,” implying that women’s opinions have no meaning or worth. The pen can only be used to transcribe recipes to “feed the man.” Ellen uses the “bic for her” pen to paint a dramatic picture of how individuals view women as inferior to men, and this is how I define “discrimination.” She mentions how we are paid less and given fewer opportunities than men. Historically, the rights of men have always came before those of women. The real “bic for her” commercial assumes that young women need pink and purple pens, and must reject black/blue ones. The “Bic Man” who hands her the pink pen receives a kiss on the cheek from the girl. This depicts women as sexual objects who take what is given to them from men, and provide sexual favors in return.  As Kilbourne explains in her article, “Buy this 24 year old…,” advertising constantly targets groups of individuals, and controls the way they think and act in response to the ad. As she discusses in her film, “Killing Us Softly 4,” the female shown in the media is being obectified, whereas the pen is being sexualized. The pen represents the price the “Bic Man” has to pay in order to receive a sexual favor from the girl. According to this commercial, the only worth that exists in women is their ability to sexually please dominant men, and this message is a discriminatory one.

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One Response to What is discrimination? (Bic Pens for Women)

  1. alicial2012 says:

    I’m actually shocked by this commercial and I think you are right on that it discriminates against women and demeans them as sexual objects which are inferior to men. I’d also like to point out, however, that this advertisement is discriminatory to men as well and definitely aims to reinforce gender roles. The “Bic pens are women” have nothing that makes them distinctly more useful for someone who has a vagina; they are only considered “for women” because they are pink. This reinforces the gender stereotypes that girls like pink and that pink is “feminine”, while boys are expected to like blue (here blue and black pens) because they are more “masculine”. Here is where men are discriminated against as well; Bic makes it clear that their pink pens are not for men, discouraging half the population from using their new pens because that defies gender stereotypes. By deeming the pink pens “for women”, Bic attaches a stigma and shame to any man who would want to use these pens, assuring men that these pens are “feminine” and that for a man to use them would be to emasculate himself. Thus, this commercial is offensive to both men and women in its discriminatory messages.

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