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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 diamanté 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.
For those of you who read both this blog and Literary Austin, apologies for the double post. I know a good chunk of people read one blog or the other, so I’m reposting from the original Literary Austin post to make sure this information gets to everyone.
I’m planning a literary event, and I need your help!
Plans for the First Annual Austin Feminist Poetry Festival (working title) are underway. The tentative date is April 4th through 7th, and I am looking to recruit volunteers to help me plan and implement the event.
Anyone who wants to help is more than welcome. I have a particular need for people who can assist with fundraising and grantwriting, but anyone who is enthused and wants to help is more than welcome. This will be a big job, and the more the merrier!
Please note that this festival embodies an inclusive definition of feminism. It is not an event for women only (however you define the term). All feminist-identified people, regardless of sex/gender expression, are welcome to join the planning committee.
If interested, please contact me at email@example.com. Once I have ascertained interest, I’ll email interested people to set up our initial planning meeting.
Please feel free to share this with your various social networks, in order to reach people who might not read this blog, but who would be interested in participating.
At the Blue Willow reading last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting John Lambremont, Sr., editor of Big River Poetry Review. He drove all the way out from Baton Rouge to hear us read, and his presence was very much appreciated.
Big River Poetry Review is a new publication; it debuted online this past spring. In addition, it will run an annual print anthology. Rather than publishing once every few weeks or months, John Lambremont’s aim is to update daily, sharing poetry on an ongoing basis.
I submitted some poems soon after returning to Austin, and I’m happy to share that one of my poems, entitled “What is dust?,” appeared on the site earlier this week. I’m very happy to be a part of this new publication, and look forward to watching its growth over the coming year.
Last year, it was 112 degrees on the day of the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival; on top of that, there was still one more day for ArmadilloCon. While the festival has been a must-attend for Jon and me ever since we lived here, between the weather and the conflict, we decided to skip out. This year, the con and the festival were on separate weekends, and the weather was much more temperate (it even rained a little bit!). And I’m glad we went, because there were some delicious new things.
We started out in the tasting lines for the sauces entered in the competition. We hit the specialty sauces first, and tasted some amazing creations, from great habanero sauces, to those made with citrus or curry or cucumber, to one that included shrimp!
After tasting all the specialty sauces, we moved on to the green sauce section. Halfway through, we decided we were done with the long, slow lines, so decided to hit up the hot sauce vendors who were offering samples. And, of course, let people take our money in exchange for delicious hot sauce.
We ended up buying condiments from five different companies (in order of appearance on our festival meanderings):
- Rice Burner Sweet and Spicy Asian Sauce (I didn’t sample this, but Jon assures me that I’m going to love it)
- Cindy’s Cin-namon Apple BBQ Sauce (delightfully sweet and savory)
- Hell’s Passion Hot Sauce (reminds me of my former favorite, Scorned Woman, before they changed their recipe for the worse)
- Triple-C Steak Sauce (I don’t remember the last time I bought steak sauce, as I don’t really eat steak, but this was too delicious to pass up)
- Habanero-Rosemary Jelly (I’m a big fan of their Habanero-Cranberry Jelly as well, but we decided to purchase the new flavor this year)
- Cajun Garlic Essence (I will reiterate: the best sauce entered in the competition)
- Bayou Gold Chipotle Mustard Sauce (because I am a mustard addict)
- Cajun Lightning Hot Sauce (I think it’s new, because it’s not on their website; it cost $3 more than the rest of the sauces, but was well worth the price)
- Thai Cumber Salsa, medium heat, with Thai peppers (Our first choice was the high heat with habaneros, but they were sold out; this was the next best thing, and still very delicious)
- Massamun Curry Sauce (I can’t wait to cook with this!)
After over three hours of standing in the sun and sampling sauce, we came away with enough to last us at least six months (probably; we’re hot sauce addicts). And, at the end of all that, what was the natural choice? A trip to Amy’s Ice Cream, to chill out. The perfect ending to a perfect afternoon.
On Saturday, my friend Shubh and I drove to Houston to attend the kickoff Texas Poetry Calendar reading at Blue Willow Books. I had even more fun this year than I did last year, primarily because I knew so many people this year; in fact, last year’s Blue Willow reading was my major initiation into the Texas poetry community, and was the catalyst for many new friendships, with poets both in Austin and in other cities.
Dos Gatos press editor Scott Wiggerman served as your emcee, and he ran a smooth event. There were twenty-one poets, and he still managed to keep the reading within the scheduled timeframe (this, I have noticed, is harder than it looks). Because we had so many poets in attendance, we only got to read two pieces: the poem we had in the calendar, and one other piece. Even though each poet only had a few minutes of time, it still gave me the chance to appreciate everyone there.
Of course, the real fun came when we arrived in Houston and I realized I’d forgotten the folio where I keep all of my poems. It was still sitting on my bed, back in Austin. Of course, I had easy access to my calendar poem, so that wasn’t an issue. But, of course, there was still the issue of my second poem.
Now, while I don’t hold it against anyone who reads a poem off of their smartphone (folders get forgotten, notebooks get lost, things happen), I personally don’t care for the aesthetic of reading directly off of a small screen like that. Of course, my phone was pretty much the only access I had to my poems, otherwise situated 200 miles away. But thanks to the power of Dropbox, I managed to pull up a shorter poem that I had mostly memorized, get the middle portion square in my mind, and perform without the assistance of my device. Crisis averted!
After a wonderful 90 minutes of poetry, we had time to browse the shop, and then a group of us went to dinner at Carmelo’s, which I contend is the only worthwhile Italian restaurant in the entire state of Texas (there are many things I love about living here; the Italian cuisine leaves something to be desired). Dinner lasted even longer than the reading did, as we shared wonderful discussions about poetry, along with great food.
As with any other poetry reading, when Shubh and I headed back to Austin, I was feeling inspired (this time even more so because of the great dinner and conversation afterward). I have ideas for new poems, and am returning to the idea I had earlier this summer, to create a feminist poetry festival in Austin (the amount of work is intimidating, but this idea can’t be shaken). We had a lovely drive home, and I couldn’t wait to get to work on Sunday.
Now I need to prepare to be the featured poet at the Kick Butt Coffee Poetry Open Mic in September (more on that later). My goal is to have the poems in my 30-minute set memorized….so I’d better get to work!
Early in May, Jon and I walked into Master Gohring’s Tai Chi and Kung Fu somewhat on a whim. Jon wanted to get more exercise and had always wanted to try martial arts. And as much as I love to dance, after twenty years of that being my primary physical activity, I was looking to shake things up a bit. So we signed up for a new student special, and after the first 30-minute class, I turned to Jon and said, “Let’s do that again!” A week later, we formally enrolled.
Master Gohring’s school is a family-oriented place, so there are children in most of the classes — most of whom are higher ranked than we are. It’s been pretty humbling to have at least 15 years on some of my classmates, and have them be far more skilled than I am. No matter how much I’ve accomplished in life, I’m always going to be a beginner at something.
This past week, we took our first sash test, and promoted up to Gold. Next week, we start a new unit. I’m looking forward to learning new forms, and also honing what I’ve already picked up. There is a long road ahead to Black Sash, and I’m looking forward to it.
Depending on how much you pay attention to the world, you may or may not have heard that writer John Hemingway used the term “Girlfriend Mode” when describing the beginner levels in the videogame Borderlands II. As you can imagine, many of us took issue with that, for what I hope are obvious reasons. (I’m admittedly not much of a videogamer myself beyond Tetris, but my gender has nothing to do with that).
In response to Hemingway, my friend Carly Kocurek (scholar and writer extraordinaire!) wrote a post at her blog entitled “Modes that are more realistic than Girlfriend Mode,” in which:
I was thinking about alternative modes that might actually tell something about how women experience or interact with the broader world.
This piece is funny, but in a way painfully so, because it’s true. Such as the first example:
Hey Pretty Lady Mode During interactions with nonplayable characters, every nonplayable character will provide commentary on your avatar’s physical experience. Time spent engaging with these NPGs negatively affects your character’s health levels and may encourage the NPGs to continue trying to distract you, but if you ignore or avoid them, they will chase and harass you, which has a more acute impact on health levels.
In addition, there are already some fun additional suggestions in the comments:
Manic Pixie Dream Girl Mode: The character wanders around aimlessly examining every minor detail and won’t stop talking if you get near her. Monster attack rate quadruples while she is in your party because she draws so much attention to herself, but upon entering a new town people are not only friendlier to you, but offer you items at 75% the original cost. Treasure discovery triples, but frequently the treasure is nothing of value to any of your party members except for her. Completely incapable of dropping any items unless her inventory is full, then she may only drop two.
If you have a suggestion, feel free to visit the post and add it to the comments. Carly would love the discussion.
Just a reminder that this month, I’ll be joining a group of amazing poets for the first in a series of readings for the 2013 Texas Poetry Calendar. Scott Wiggerman reports that all of the readings look to have spectacular attendance this year.
This reading will take place at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas. I had an amazing time at Blue Willow last year, and I can’t wait to attend again. The shop is lovely, and the company is superb. I’m also looking forward to hearing poems from the calendar read aloud.
The Blue Willow reading will happen on Saturday, August 24th, at 4 p.m. Click here for a map. The event is free and open to the public.
This haiku came out of my small stones practice. Not all of my small stones are haiku — in fact, most of them aren’t — but some of them do end up being in haiku form. It was composed during that brief, blessed rainy season.
There was a time in my life when I didn’t enjoy writing haiku, but now I find it one of my favorite forms. And in the past few years, I feel like my longer poems are really inspired by the compression of haiku. I like to fit my words into tight spaces, and give a rich image while still managing to be sparse. There is so much concentration that goes into a haiku (both in the sense of compression and attention), and that’s why I’ve come to adore them so much.