I mentioned last time that something was missing from my beloved Yorkie bar, the English candy bar I had for the first time in four years a few weeks ago. Never mind that World Market doesn’t carry the Raisin and Biscuit bars: the real problem was that the wrappers didn’t have the distinct “It’s Not for Girls!” warning on them. My trusty source Wikipedia says that the slogan stopped being used in 2011. I just hope it’s not because people complained.
You might think that as a woman, I would be offended by the unapologetic circle-and-line logo and the all-caps text. Not so. Eating a chocolate bar I wasn’t “allowed” to have made it taste even more delicious. Plus, I understand how the marketing of a British candy bar would fit in with the sadomasochism that is British humor. The first time I saw a Yorkie bar, I thought, “There’s no way this would work over here.” I never thought I’d be proven right.
A couple of years later, Dr. Pepper introduced a soda called Dr. Pepper Ten. The tagline was “It’s Not for Women”. I didn’t like it simply because it was a ripoff of Yorkie’s, but I did admire the fact that Dr. Pepper had the balls, as it were, to use it. The decision made some sense; “manly” ad campaigns have been generally successful in recent years. Dr. Pepper Ten’s TV commercials even resembled those of Old Spice. Plus, fellow soft drinks Coke Zero and Pepsi Max are also marketed towards men.
Dr. Pepper Ten, however, flew too close to sun. People complained and the ads quickly disappeared.
I don’t really care about Dr. Pepper Ten, but now that Yorkie is apparently not for girls anymore, I’ve had enough. It’s time for a sit-down, ladies (and I know you’re the majority of the ones who complained about the ads). Here’s why you shouldn’t have a problem with products that are “not” for us:
1. It’s not about us. It’s about playing off male insecurity. Seriously, before Coke Zero and Pepsi Max came out, I knew a guy who made his female friend carry his diet soda for him because he thought it looked effeminate.
2. Its ridiculousness shows it’s not serious. Ads that implicitly exclude women are serious about their message. For example, women are perfectly capable of enjoying beer, but most beer commercials only show us as a reward for men who drink that particular brand. The ads have generally become less overtly objectifying over the years, but the message is still the same.
3. It works both ways. Look at the marketing for Dove chocolate. I very much enjoy eating chocolate, but it is not the quasi-erotic moment experienced by the women in the ads. There’s something condescending about the suggestion that chocolate consumption is a sacred feminine act.
In short, it’s humor. Laugh at the fact products have to be marketed to assuage gender identity crises in the first place. Laugh at the men who can’t enjoy a diet soda unless an ad campaign says it’s okay. These sad souls were the target of the joke all along.
Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to have a tryst with a charming English candy bar.