I’m not a huge shopper. I generally dislike spending money on non-essential things. But I’ll tell you that the one way you can turn this girl from a disinterested spendthrift into a drooling, drop-everything, “I don’t need that money for groceries, right?” shopper is if the item in question is both cute and ingeniously practical.
For instance, PoCampo is a company out of Chicago that makes me want to wipe out my savings account every time I glance at their website. I got their Logan Bike Bag on sale a while back and use it almost daily, clipping its awesome adjustable straps and Velcro tabs over my bike’s rear rack to change it instantly from a cute purse that hangs from my shoulder to a CUTE PURSE THAT STRAPS TO MY BIKE ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW.
When I saw the Original Clippa from Israeli design studio Monkey Business, I had this same feeling. So many products marketed to the female-identifying have their salient features watered down — don’t get me started on tiny pants pockets — that it feels damn close to a personal affirmation when a designer makes something just for women that recognizes them as independent entities with the same skills and challenges as their non-female counterparts, not as real-life fashion models whose only task is to avoid tripping when they do a runway turn at the end of a sidewalk.
This clip is great! It’s got screwdrivers and a wrench and a little saw and a ruler. I’d be a little afraid of it sawing through my hair on accident, but otherwise, it’s amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I clicked through the Gizmodo article about it to see how much it cost. There, I puzzlingly saw no images of women wearing it in their hair. There were lots of pictures of it being used to cut through rope and fix eyeglasses, but the only picture of it being used as an accessory was to clip a kippah.
And then, in the corner, with a list of other products I might be interested in purchasing, was a little pink clip called “Clippa Lady,” with a nail file instead of a ruler, a bottle opener instead of a wrench, and fewer features altogether. And it began to dawn on me that maybe the designers weren’t thinking of me as an independent entity with the same skills and challenges of a man. Maybe they just happened to create something that looked exactly like the hair clips women wear, but because it was packed with features, it was obviously meant for a man.
Look, I realize that a female-identifying person could use the Original Clippa and be perfectly happy. And I realize that there’s a third version of the Clippa, Clippa Blackfin, that also has fewer features but comes in black. I also realize that this is an Israeli company, and Jewish men have much more use for clips like these than other male-identifying people.
My problem is in the decision to call it “Lady.” That designation signals to women that the more feature-packed model is not for them. It tells them that like everything, the one meant for their feminine hands is the one meant for a person with fewer skills and challenges. It’s not often that a product can actually hurt my feelings, but this one managed to do that.
Can we stop with the dumbing down of “women’s” products now? I’m no marketing genius and sure, maybe diversifying your product to target different demographics makes money, but it’s terribly cynical to think the only difference between male- and female-identifying people is that female-identifying people like pink and don’t do as many things. I have a busy life, and need to get shit done. I like the products I purchase to recognize that.