Feminist Friday: Gendered Pens

I know that a good chunk of the internet has already posted some excellent snark about this topic (see Sociological Images and Buzzfeed), but it made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t help but share as well.

The BIC corporation decided that they needed to launch a line of pens “for her.” You know, because apparently regular pens are too masculine. We must find them intimidating or something. How dare our writing utensils be androgynous?

What made me really happy, though, is the extent to which consumers have ridiculed BIC for this silly product. I’m thrilled to see consumers recognizing how obnoxious it is to gender products. There is a hilarious string of reviews over at Amazon, calling attention to the fact that women don’t need special pens. Below are a sample of my favorites.

My mother, a hard-working woman who raised twelve kids single-handedly whilst doing all the ironing (as nature intended), was furtively abashed by her illiteracy. Long would she gaze upon her husband and sons’ scrawlings and would dedicate five minutes a day (which she really should have spent making sandwiches) to pray that one day she would be granted the ability to create such scribbles of her own. She’s still a little slow on the uptake, but this product has definitely helped start the ball rolling. We tried to give her men’s pens but she used to rip the cartridges out and drink the ink. Typical woman.

***

My only criticism of these wonderful pens is that I get a bit bored with all 12 looking the same. I get around this my customising each pack. At the moment, the pen I have in use is covered in stripes of glitter and I glued a pink pompom and one of those diamant√© charms you get on mobile phones (I couldn’t fit any more on my phone) onto the top. I think BIC should start adding pens like this to their range because some women find it difficult to hold tubes of superglue properly – I asked the 6 year old boy who lives next door to help me.

***

Without the Limited Feminine Hygiene Colour Palette on the packaging, I really struggled to come to terms with my socially constructed norms when shopping for stationery. Thanks, Bic!

***

My husband bought a box of these for me. I was SO excited that, finally, I would be able to write after watching him do it for all these years. My excitement turned to tears when I realized that they do not come with paper-for-her. Please, BIC, consider making some feminine paper products so I can use my new pens.

***

An outrage– who deemed it necessary for women to write things? It’s bad enough when women get their claws on men-pens– but at least they’re harpy claws can’t adequately grasp the “For Him” shape. These “For Her” pens are promising a generation of incorrigible Friedanites– a real danger to this already threatened international climate. Surely, pens “For Her” are harbingers of wild orgies, witchcraft, and, in due time, the feminist-wrought apocalypse. If women can write, they’ll soon be writing employers memos asking for ridiculous things like “equal pay” or “reproductive rights.” Nonsense and poppycock!

***

I bought it simply because it was pink, and shiny, and would go with my outfit. I was going to my first job interview, I was going to be interviewed for a secretary in one of those big offices that are for men. So when I took out this pen to sign my name in the guest book, I felt this weird rush of confidence going through me. I felt…worthy, like I could actually do something more than look pretty, stare blankly and smile.
I got the job and now I am a happy office worker and the only woman in the office.
These pens have changed my life. Girl Power!

***

I used my new pen to write a letter to my local Congressman requesting equal pay for women and a preservation of my reproductive rights… and then the ground began to shake, the world around me crumbled into flames and molten stone, everything went black, and I was torn asunder from the universe. Did I use it wrong????

***

As both man and writer, I perpetually struggle with the expression of dichotomous self – dialogue, in particular, is difficult to resolve fruitfully. Masculinity comes easily, as all male characters can be drawn with a few broad strokes about contact sports, engine capacity and drinking; femininity has always been problematic, however. How does one portray the fickle, vacuous hypersensitivities of the feebler sex?

Now I need look no further. Since beginning to use these pens for scripting my female protagonists, I have found their words to be endlessly forthcoming. They flow from the pretty little nib like so much glutinous compound, and I shall never worry about having nothing to say again. In fact, I shall buy the entire remaining stock so other male writers will be destined to churn out inferior work, and I shall be adored by women the world over for my empathy.

***

Thank you, Bic. The touch of these pens has put me back in touch with my femininity and in doing so, I have fully embraced what it is to be a woman, in all its purple glory. I fully surrender to true womanhood and vow to no longer take part in feminist movements. I now realize we should not strive for equality but focus on what we do best, being pretty, to the point that any tool we use must be decorative and gorgeous. It is imperative that we fulfill our calling and be the womanliest women that we can be. I would recommend that governments dealing with unruly females subsidize these pens and pass them around. They may have the power of preventing feminist revolutions all over the world. These pens could finally bring world peace! Long Live Bic For Her!

***

I was going to buy some regular old pens for a transgender friend of mine to celebrate her transition, but this product has made what should be a simple purchase into a real etiquette problem that is keeping me up at night!

Now I’m not sure if she’d be offended if I got her the other pens, because she might see them as “Pens for Him,” and think that I wasn’t being supportive of her. I want to be respectful, but I’m also worried that if I get these “Pens for Her,” she might not be able to use them and be devastated. I would hope that BIC has taken the Transgender community into account when manufacturing their pens, but I’m not sure I can trust a company that took until 2012 to make pens that were usable by half of our population. Really, I just don’t want to be making any sort of faux pas, and get some pens for my friend that will make her happy. Until then I’m going to have to stick with gender neutral pencils or crayons.

***

It IS a very pretty pen! But I have to say, that 1.0mm tip could stand to be a bit slimmer. Perhaps it’s time for some low-calorie ink?

***

I work in a big Madison Avenue advertising firm. I started out as a secretary, but my dream was to be a copywriter. One day I got my lucky break, writing copy for lipsticks in my spare time, and I was on my way! But no matter how good my ideas were, and no matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t get the respect I deserved! Then one day, a glamorous, experienced, older woman gave me some really neat advice. “Listen,” she said to me, “You’ll never get anywhere trying to write with one of the boys’ pens. What you need is a woman’s pen. It’s a powerful implement when used correctly.” So I got up the courage to ask our office manager to order me the Bic for Her woman’s pen, and it has changed my life! Thanks to the pretty pink color, and how curvy my writing’s become, I’m getting all kinds of great accounts! Cold cream, bras, even weight-loss devices! Sure, I still don’t really have a husband, or a worthwhile boyfriend, but maybe next year! Thanks, Bic!

***

These are absolutely rubbish at hair removal. Would not buy again. Now my legs and pits are really overgrown and I’m worried everyone will think I’m a feminist.

***

I do not understand why a pen for her is so phallic. Why does a tool of self-expression have to bear the very shape of the symbol of the patriarchy?

***
Sisters! We have been misled by society for too long. We need £500, a room of our own, and THESE PENS.

Shakespeare’s Sister would have taken the world by storm if she’d had them. Buy them immediately and smash the patriarchy – one love heart dotted ‘i’ at a time.

***
My only disappointment in this pen is that it only comes in Precious Pink, Blacklisted and Bluestocking. I am looking for a pen that is available in the full 50 shades of gray. Any ideas?
***
I am a huge fan of the gender binary. Without it, it’s very hard to work out who to oppress. I therefore decided to purchase some razors so I could remove a great deal of hair which was growing out of my body on places such as my shins. I thought this would make me look smooth like a baby, and vulnerable, and also different and deferent to men, so that they could feel I was complimenting and complementing them.
I knew that bic made razors, so I searched and found ‘bic for her’ – this seemed to solve my problem – I am on a low budget so was looking for cheap disposable razors – the slicing off of goosebumps seem mere collateral damage in my quest to appear feminine.
I saw these ‘bic for her’ with their pink box and was so relieved the cheap razors would not sully my bathroom with their orange glare – I was reluctant to run the risk of being misgendered by overnight guests.
And then they arrived and were pens.

I write things, but not often enough to require 12 pens. Seriously – the only feminine person I can think of who produces that many words is Barbara Cartland, and she lies on a chaise longue while someone else writes down her dictation in any case. How many thoughts do you think I have in my pretty pretty head, bic?

Even if I did have a moment of wisdom, I would feel ashamed, keep it secret and hope like hell it would pass before anyone noticed.

4 thoughts on “Feminist Friday: Gendered Pens

  1. I considered trying to leave a comment there along the lines of what I said on G+ (something about preferring them wider and not being sure where to put the batteries) but I saw several ladies had already beat me to it there. Probably because they’re smart and have lady pens and stuff. I hear England’s very progressive that way.

  2. Because I’m visually impaired, I use text to speech software that reads everything on the computer screen to me. When I first saw this post, I thought it said, “Gender Pants.” Naturally, this piqued my curiosity. Although the post turned out not to be about what women wear below the waist, I got a good laugh.

    Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of
    We Shall Overcome
    and
    How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

    http://abbiejohnsontaylor.com

  3. Because I’m visually impaired, I use text to speech software that reads everything on the computer screen to me. When I first saw this post, I thought it said, “Gender Pants.” Naturally, this piqued my curiosity. Although this post turned out not to be about what women wear below the waist, I got a good laugh.

    Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of
    We Shall Overcome
    and
    How to Build a Better Mousetrap:
    Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

    http://abbiejohnsontaylor.com/blog

  4. This is completely hilarious! I just love those product descriptions….funny how we can use this type of technology/communication in such subversive ways.

    That “for her” is obnoxious, isn’t it?

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