The concept of gender is a highly debated and controversial topic in today’s news.We have all been taught and socially pressured into being either male or female, based on our genitals and sexual characteristics. By going around in a simple everyday store, we can see how we are both pressured into our assigned at birth genders and how it affects us as consumers.
The first thing you are greeted by when you walk into the store is a large section for beauty products. Makeup, nails, hair treatment, etc line the walls and each products promises to make you look more beautiful. After examining the products and ads for them, I saw that none included or mentioned males. Makeup is only directed towards females and even from a young age they are pressured to do their gender by putting on makeup to be beautiful. We can also see this being pushed onto children with companies selling children’s makeup and nail art kits.
Next, I moved on to something that everyone regardless of gender should wear., deodorant. I found these two sitting right next to each other, one clearly for men and one for women. The men’s deodorant is decorated with navy blue and with the outdoors, something associated with manliness. The woman’s is more gentle with a subtle white and pink coloring. This is an example of doing gender because of the difference in appearance for something that is the same product. Besides the appearance of the products, notice the prices as well. Both are made from the same brand and the men’s has more product overall in it. So why is the woman’s priced more? They are doing their gender by purchasing the products marketed to their gender even if it costs more.
Ah those words, “feminine care”. We all know what they mean but why must we hide it behind such dainty words? Tampons and pads become feminine products, vaginal wash becomes feminine care, and the word vagina itself is reduced to “feminine”. First, using the word feminine to refer to vaginal products is very exclusionary. Anyone can be and display feminine qualities, does this mean everyone who is feminine has a vagina? Second, this enforces gender and how we do gender by associating feminine traits are linked with a vagina or vice versa. To a nonbianary or a trans man, seeing this sign could possibly cause gender dysphoria as it is again enforcing them to do their assigned gender.
As I walked through the rows of products, these two stuck out to me the most. The pink and blue state the obvious gender difference, but the characters placed on the designs show which gender it is for as well. Looking at the packaging, there is nothing that says the diapers are for a boy or a girl, only age range. However through marketing with color and gender specific characters, we can assume which is for which. This is doing gender through our assumed knowledge of what are boy things and what are girl things.
Oh boy (Or should I say man?) this one just screams doing gender. Since it is around valentines day, the store was packed with candy and cards. As I looked for some kind of gendered candy, I came across this. packed with muscles, strong jawline, and half naked, it is described as the “perfect” man. The sticker at the top plays a witty joke on the taste of the chocolate but along with the appearance of the chocolate, reinforces the perfect masculine stereotype. Though it is portrayed in a comedic and playful way, it is a way of doing gender through its stereotyping of the perfect male in appearance and in lifestyle (Sweet and Rich)
The use of gendered products sold in stores is a large example of how we do gender everyday without realizing it, as well as how we are socially pressured into the binary.