Why Do Women Need More Expensive Deodorant Than Men?

Plus other products—including Bic pens—that shouldn't be gender specific.

The total stupidity of both the “invention” and the marketing of that new line of Bic “For Her” Pens has been, in my opinion, well worth the debacle, if only for the hilarious sarcastic reviews that came out of it. (If you haven’t seen ’em already, Google “Bic for Her” and your faith in mankind will be redeemed).

But let’s be fair here: As utterly ridiculous and weirdly sexist as the whole idea of marketing pens made for women is, it’s not like Bic invented the idea of random use of gender in marketing. Companies and their ad execs have tried to convince us—sometimes quite successfully—that all sorts of clearly unisex products are in fact best suited for one gender or the other, a modus operandi I will hereafter refer to as “Bic’ing”. Remember last year, when the Dr. Pepper people tried to Bic us into buying their diet soda made just for guys? And how the Lego people Bic’d people into buying Legos made for girls? Regarding the latter: Like the Bic pens, said Legos are much pinker and purpler than you’d usually see. They also include sets of Lego beauty parlors, spas, and bakeries. And the girl figures have breasts instead of the traditional blocky flat chest. Because Legos are definitely more fun with boobs, am I right?

That any company would earnestly and intentionally go the Bic route and try to force a non-gendered product into appealing differently to the different genders seems on its face to be absurd … but then again, I regularly buy rather pricey gel-coated and soap-cushioned razors specially made for me and my girl legs. (Also: They’re pink.) And yet when I recently ran out of my expensive lady blades and used my husband’s utilitarian black disposable, it worked beautifully. (Better, even?) It occurs to me that even as I rolled my eyes at pink Legos, a lot of us have been willingly and totally Bic’d when it comes to razors … and also a whole bunch of other stuff. Consider:

  1. Team t-shirts. Pink jerseys would make sense if Chase Utley wore a pink jersey. Otherwise, what’s wrong with just wearing the actual team colors?
  2. Concert t-shirts. Why does his get to be comfy cool, and ours get to fit like shrink wrap, with the band name stretching its way across our chests? Bah.
  3. Pinterest-spinoffs for guys. Because the Internet isn’t big enough for us both?
  4. Yogurt. Men eat yogurt, too.
  5. Luna bars. Men like granola bars that come in flavors like “s’mores” and “peanut honey  pretzel,” too. Men also need vitamins and minerals, and yes, even folic acid.
  6. Cleaning products. I don’t care what market research shows about the percentages of women who do the housework: Show me the commercial that seriously portrays a man doing dishes, and I’m buying that dishsoap. The way most companies market shower scrub and glass cleaner, you’d think they were feminine hygiene products. In my house, and in most houses I know, cleaning knows no gender.
  7. Grills and grill accoutrements. Wait, women are allowed to make cheeseburgers, too?
  8. Deodorant. Geared toward men or geared toward women, they all work exactly the same way, do they not? Only I pay northwards of $5 for mine and my husband pays roughly $4 for his. (Side note: When did we decide as a culture that men’s armpits get to smell like showers and laundry and ocean breezes and women’s get to smell like powder and fruit and salad fixings? Can’t we all just make a pact to smell of, say, Dove or Zest? Does anybody not like the smell of soap?)
  9. “Man aisles” at the grocery store. Yes, this is a real thing. God help us.
  10. Yankee candles for men. If I didn’t already detest the idea of clunky jarred candles, then this would turn me off on its own. Guys obviously can’t buy the same “clean linen” or “apple cider” scents that we always thought were universally appealing smells. No, they need scents like “2×4” and “Riding Mower” and the dubious-sounding “Man Town.” If it doesn’t smell like lumber or work, it’s for chicks.