Are you a man? Are you rubbish at food shopping? A supermarket in New York has decided that you are, so it’s put all the ‘man items’ in one aisle. Excuse me while I step out of my pigeonhole and on to my soapbox…
We’re generally a harmonious bunch at Which? HQ, but a blog I spotted this morning had us all chipping in to a debate.
A New York supermarket has launched a ‘man aisle’, to make shopping easier for men. They’ve grouped all the products that they think men want into one handy section, to save guys from having to wear themselves out wandering round the supermarket.
What exactly is a ‘man product’?
I know quite a few different men, and believe it or not I’d struggle to think of one product that all of them love, or would regularly buy. Because the thing is, all men are different – all people are different. This is something that feminists such as myself have been banging on about for years when it comes to women – we don’t all like baking, we’re not all dressed in pink, and not all of us spend fifty quid a month on beauty products.
So I’m more than a little annoyed that, having grasped the message that women are individuals with unique opinions, we’re now telling men that they’re all the same. You’re a man, right? Well you must like beer, peanuts, crisps, dips and condoms. In fact – that’s basically all you need to buy when you go shopping, right?
In case you thought that list was a little sexist, please forgive me – it’s not my list. The supermarket in question has decided that ‘all the things a good man could need’ include the items mentioned above.
Slugs, snails and puppy dog tails
I know, I know – it’s mostly a bit of fun and publicity for the supermarket. But it’s part of a really irritating trend in marketing to not just make certain products appeal to one gender or another, but to actively limit them to ‘male’ or ‘female’, even if the products can be consumed by anyone.
There are some products that I’d happily say were ‘male’ – deodorant, for instance, is generally gender-tailored, and some razors are specifically designed for men to shave their faces (despite the fact that if they’re on offer, I’ll buy some to do my legs). So I’m not particularly upset by the inclusion of these things.
But apparently the scented candles are for us, and the beer is for you. No matter that you might have opinions and tastes that differ from the stereotype, or that you might (brace yourselves) be shopping not just to fill a small fridge in a bachelor pad but to feed your whole family.
Sugar, spice, and sexist marketing
Yorkie famously boasted that it was ‘not for girls’. McCoy’s still print the words ‘Man Crisps’ on their packets. And I think most worryingly of all, toys are often still sold as ‘boys’ toys’ and ‘girls’ toys’, giving girls the chance to dress dolls in frilly pink tutus while boys get busy with toy cars and chemistry sets.
I’m the first to complain about women being stereotyped. And indeed in the last six months I’ve moaned about displays of baking equipment in shop windows under the heading ‘something for the girls’, or invitations to ‘treat Mum this Mother’s day with a relaxing massage’ while Dads are offered track days in the latest sports car.
But it’s important to be equal – if we’d make a fuss about a pink-painted ‘women’s aisle’ with moisturisers, cupcakes and glitter, let’s make a fuss for the men too. Gentlemen –your ‘manliness’ is determined by who you are, not what you buy.
Would you like to see 'man aisles' in supermarkets?
No - I think it's a terrible idea (71%, 172 Votes)
Maybe - only if there's also a 'woman aisle' (16%, 39 Votes)
Yes - I think it's a good idea (13%, 31 Votes)
Total Voters: 249