Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The stupidity that is men vs women products

It never ceases to amaze me how much our society likes to divide things into male/female, as if men and women are two entirely different species that need to be kept separated and treated differently.

We see this in lots of ways, some more serious and more important than others. Even though I admit sometimes this is a logical division and it is true that there are certain differences between men and women. But what society likes to overlook is that the difference and variety within men and within women is bigger than the difference between men and women.

One of the less serious and important areas where you see a strong divide between male and female is in the products you can buy in shops. It might not be that important, but it annoys me to no end.

I mainly have an issue with shoes and shampoos. The former is a taste issue, the latter is just plain retarded. Let’s start with shoes. I realize that in general men tend to wear different shoes than women, and that’s fine. I would not expect this to change or for there to be no separate men and women shoe stores.

What I do take issue with is when the same type of shoe gets sold so differently for men and women. Take sneakers. I love sneakers, I think they look awesome and they feel great on your feet. However, even though there is absolutely nothing gender specific about sneakers, more often than not they get made totally different for men and women.

All the guy shoes look really cool. At least, I always think so. That is to say, they are sleek and simple. No fuss, just awesome sneakers. The same shoes on the women’s isle are totally different. They always have to include stupid accessories, shiny glittery things or they come in horrible colours like pink.Girly pink Nikes. Seriously?

Who wants to wear pink sneakers? Not me. I find it very hard to believe that the majority of women really prefer their sneakers to be pink or include glitters. Luckily there are a few brands who don’t do this, but usually looking for cool sneakers is a nightmare.

I have no problem shopping in the guys section, even though it annoys me that shopping assistants always have to point out to me I’m looking at guys shoes. Yes, I KNOW. Problem is though, my feet are not big enough for men’s shoes. Nine out of ten times they are simply too big.

Whereas I can still understand why shoes (and clothes) are different for men and women, there’s other products that just don’t make sense. Like shampoos. A decade ago, all shampoos were unisex. There were lots to choose from, depending on hair type and personal preference, but men and women could just share their nice unisex shampoos.

This is no longer the case. No, these day the shampoo isle is divided into shampoos especially for men and especially for women. Did all of a sudden the heads and hair of men and women change dramatically that they needed separate shampoos?

Shampoo "for men". Just what the world was waiting for.

Seriously people, it’s so unbelievably dumb. There is no need to buy special men or women shampoo. It is shampoo, for heaven’s sake. What’s next, male and female soap? Oh hang on, it already exists.

Then there’s stuff like deodorant. Ok I get it, not all women like to smell like a dude. But what’s with the packaging? Why can the guy deodorant come in cool designs and in black or grey or drank blue and I have to go home with bright coloured deodorant which is covered in flowers? Or worse even, in pastel colours.

Women's deodorant in "cute" pastel colours

I could talk about this for hours. Don’t worry, I won’t. I just don’t get it. Or I don’t want to get it. I refuse to believe I am the exception and all other women are just happy to buy all their fluffy pink flowery women products.

I guess it all starts when we are little. So many parents try so very hard to get their kids to wear the gender appropriate clothes and have them play with the gender appropriate toys. Why? Why does this matter? I feel very lucky my parents never cared about all that stuff.

What do you think? Am I making a fuss about nothing or would you like to see things differently too?


Betty said...

Totally agree! I hate pink sneakers (and the color in general). But unfortunately my size 3 feet have to wear childrens shoes :(

Spoil Myself said...

Until now I believed that their were different shampoos for different hair (permed, thick, long etc.), but for men as well? Don't see the point.

I'm quite happy that my feet fit into the smaller men's shoes - I'm all about the no-nonsense, no accessoirs and no-flower-design style.

great post:)

Random said...

I was going to leave a rather long comment, but then I realized I was repeating most of what you already had mentioned, so I guess it would sum up to: Agreed!

What's the difference between shampoo for males and females anyway? The scent?

Anonymous said...

That is so true! It is one of the really annoying things, at least for me, too!

I always hate this moment. It takes maybe four or five weeks until my shampoo gets empty. I go in the shop with the intention to buy a new one. It is for sure, that I forgot which I bought the last time. Though, I am standing in front of the huge shelve, which is as big as a house wall, starring at thousands of pastel coloured bottles. But even worse is that on every bottle is written something different. Another combination, which suits exactly to your hair: is your hair dry or coloured or is it thin, maybe a bit split and so on and so on. A short look on the left side shows the men’s stuff, maybe five or six different bottles and in most of them is both: shampoo and shower gel. It’s blue coloured and the smell is like the opposite of flowery perfume. I get always so annoyed, when I see that. Is it really that simple? Do they really think that we are so stupid? That every woman takes hours to find the right and one and only suitable shampoo? And that mean doesn’t really care about stuff like that?

At the time, when the European Football Championships took place it got worse. After I found (!) a shampoo I run around the corner in the shop. Something stopped me. It was a decorated mountain full of toilet paper. And guess what was on it: Football playing men! How unfair is that? I want football playing women on my toilet paper, too!

Seriously, why is that? It annoys me a lot. I can’t believe that; this unbelievable specific gender bullshit everywhere. My little half sister grew up with really cool clothes. And some time in the kindergarten, she started to ‘think’ and looked around. Form this time she only wanted to wear pink! Is it really the parents? Or the society? Ok, it is the parents in the society!

But how could that be solved? Of course, it is possible to buy genderless clothes for children. But it could also mean that a little boy wants to wear a pink skirt. But do you really want this? Do you want that ‘they’ laugh about your child and that a convertible will be launched on his back?

Thanks for the great post, Natazzz!

Natazzz said...

Thanks for all the great comments! Good to hear it's not just me.

Sealegs, I am all for parents letting their kids be themselves. If they get teased, it will happen anyway. There's nothing worse parents can do than tell their kids they cannot wear clothes they like because it's wrong or they might get teased.

Last year there was this story of this 5 year old boy who went to school in a dress, because he wanted to. I thought that was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is how it should be in general :)

shoveya said...

Shirts! When i read your post I thought about shirts. I hate having to shop for them coz the ones for guys are simple and come in an amazing range of colours. For women, if you want a simple shirt you'll be stuck with limited colours like white/black and pastel, that's it. If you want cool colours, you'll be dealing with frills, lace and all that complicated stuff. Its so annoying.

Nelfy said...

I would rather die than wear pink sneakers!

I think it's pretty hilarious that there is gendered food - because men eat different things than woman! obviously! I'm pretty sure that I saw gendered bread at the supermarket - wtf?

What bothers me about this issue is that with really important things, such as medication, not enough research has been done. The male body works differently than the female one and in some cases, diseases are not detected in women because doctors don't know - for example when it comes to heart attacks or heart problems in general. Medication SHOULD be gender-specific, yet it isn't.