Are Brands Fundamentally Sexist, Or Are We All 'Snowflakes'?
Last week, the internet went crazy over a simple, innocent question from a 4 year old boy. The little boy in question had asked his mum why a pack of tissues were described as “man sized”. He wondered if everyone could use them, or if it was just for men. The mum suggested the brand renamed them as “large tissues”. Almost instantly there were tweets claiming “millennials had gone mad”, the new generation were “snowflakes” and that basically the nation had become “soft over thinkers”. This got us thinking; we like to think we’re pretty forward thinking here at ROR. We brand nearly all of our slogans as ‘unisex’. We didn’t really think about it, but our sweaters are a ‘boyfriend fit’ so fit both men and women…that was about it. We love anyone rocking our slogans, but we do have some gender specific designs, for example ‘Mum PWR’, ‘Man Stuff’ - should we be rethinking these designs, or was twitter right…the world has gone “PC mad”?
Gender boundaries have been predominant throughout history, especially in the UK. In fact, since the beginning of time, people have been questioning the largely social construct of gender and whether it’s acceptable to mix and match ideals and beliefs of what a man and woman ‘should be ’. With Queen Elizabeth I smashing the stereotypes and leading our country in battle, to the Suffragettes, fighting for equality between the sexes over 150 years ago. So it’s no surprise that as a nation, we like to question the invisible rules that have been created over the centuries.
However, it does seem like this has become a bit of a ‘trend’ over the past 10 year or so. With Zara and H&M bringing out ‘genderless’ clothing, and celebrities declaring their children as ‘non binary’ has this just become another marketing ploy or is it something that’s vitally important to challenge and debate? For us, it’s a bit of a difficult topic, as it’s very hard to work within these boundaries when you are trying to sell something. We fundamentally believe everyone should be who they want, love who they want, wear what they want and ultimately live their happiest life. However, we can’t ignore genders, and certain gender specific roles (mum, bride etc). We would (and have) be getting ourselves into relentless discussions about whether it was PC to have a Mother’s Day range, or a wash bag that say’s “Man Stuff”. Ultimately we trust our instincts, use common sense and put out designs we’re happy with, and hope our customers will be too. We do take things into consideration; for example our children’s range is more or less completely unisex, with everything being available in non gender specific colours, and we stay away from blues and pinks.
We’ve grown up in the 90s and 00s, where there have been some outrageous marketing ploys by brands. Nestle labeled their chocolate bar, Yorkie, “Not for girls”. This was back before social media, and actually was a genius way of creating a buzz, whilst getting everyone to buy them. The boys, to wind up the girls, and the girls to ‘rebel’ and eat them anyway. We don’t really think they were sexist, just marketing experts! Then there were the pens by Bic, that were specifically designed for women and labelled ‘Miss Bic - For her’ and were smaller than their standard designs. This was more recently, and again the internet went mad. Why should pens be gender specific, it’s ridiculous and it majorly backfired, with Bic withdrawing the pens from sale. Last year Asda were condemned for their children’s pyjamas;. the boy's pyjamas said “Hero” and the girl’s said “daddy’s little girl”.
This is where we think it’s important. Children. They should be brought up in a world of equality where it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, so maybe there shouldn’t be ‘man size’ tissues. In fact, Kleenex agreed, and are rebranding them as ‘large tissues’. So despite twitter calling us millennials “snow flakes”, maybe it just means we’re “fully woke” (yup just said it!) and maybe the world will be a better place when brands make products for everyone. However the instant backlash on twitter over changing the name of larger tissues, with the overwhelming response that this lady and her child were being ‘unreasonable’, suggests that maybe the rest of the world isn’t quite ready for all this. Perhaps our generation will pave the way for the new wave of equality? Either way, we enjoy the fact people can debate, and express their opinions, as it really makes us question what we do as a brand, and ultimately makes us think differently! What do you think? Do you think the world has gone PC mad or should we keep pushing and questioning the standards?