My good friend Chris Brannick alerted me to this link on Yahoo. Bic – the company which brought you the Bic For Her, and hence underpinned Bridget Christie’s comedic output for the past 18 months – has done it again, posting the following advertisement on National Women’s Day:
In case the writing’s not clear on this pic, is says: Look like a girl – Act like a lady – Think like a man – Work like a boss.
Bic has already noticed how bad this is and has withdrawn the ad and issued an apology. However, it still stuns me that anybody could be dim enough to issue it in the first place. Sadly, I fear that a lot of women think in this way, and particularly women in the corporate world. Dr Phil’s wise words, that ‘people do what works’, comes to mind, which is even more depressing.
Look like a girl. You have to look young. You have to look full of sexual possibility, if not actually sexually available. If you are not young, you have to get yourself fixed so that you look young, even if that means getting yourself chopped up and allowing yourself to be injected with poisons. You must conform to feminine norms. You must wear make-up and high heels and a skirt. You should probably grow your hair long, and, once it is long enough, you should not cut it short. You should dye your hair, since grey is not girlish.
Act like a lady. My instant reaction to this is “what the **** does that mean?” Obviously, not saying **** would be a start. (I once said **** to a prominent cricket coach and he nearly fell over backwards. Clearly I was not supposed to know the word.) Anyway, casting aside modesty, quietness, moral indignation, sexual conformity and all the other ladylike attributes which I consider to be worse than useless, I’m aiming for Lady Worsley (right).
Think like a man. How do men think? Do all men think the same way? Should I think like A C Grayling, Nigel Farage, James MacMillan or Joey Essex? Go on – pick one! OK – I’m being a little disingenuous, – I dare say women in general do have different ways of thinking than men in general, but there is no way on earth that one is better than the other. Ooh – I know what I’ll do – I’m going to think like a PERSON! And that person is ME.
Work like a boss. I don’t have a problem with the idea that women can be bosses. However, bosses are not the only people who work hard, and in some places I have been, they work less hard than the people actually making the difference at the sharp end, so I have a bit of a problem (though not a feminist problem) with working like a boss. Also, I have no boss and I do not boss anyone, so I’m in limbo on that. Perhaps I need to start striding round my office shouting “Get me today’s FTSE figures! Devalue the yuan! Downsize the music department!”, in order to be taken seriously. I fear the chaps in the office next door might call the people in white coats to take me away.
Finally, it was with deeply mixed feelings that I noticed, also embedded in the blog I’ve linked to, a tweet from someone called Technically Ron, whose heart is obviously in the right place, but whose thinking is still at least partly bogged down in the patriarchy. He says he has tried to make the new Bic ad ‘a bit more relatable’, by changing the wording to “Look like a girl – Act like a Velociraptor – Think like a supervillian [sic] – Kill men with Biros”. It’s a nice try, but underlying this is still the idea that a woman’s not really worth anything until and unless she behaves like a stereotypically aggressive man while looking like a schoolgirl. Count me out.