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Tactical Ninja - Pink is the new.. oh wait, no it isn't.

Jul. 23rd, 2014

09:24 am - Pink is the new.. oh wait, no it isn't.

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A couple of weeks ago, that thing about the Bic Cristal For Her pens went around again. It sparked the usual hilarity regarding only writing under the supervision of our husbands, how nice that we can now lift the pens easily, etc.

In me, it also sparked curiosity about ladies' fishing rods. Because I can't for the life of me work out what you'd make different in a fishing rod to make it gender-specific. I thought for a while about length for casting (against the fact that women are generally shorter than men) but reality is that casting is mostly about technique, and the only place where height makes a difference is in surfcasting. I've yet to find a 'ladies' surfcaster. So anyway, because there are assumptions and then there is research, I went and had a look at the available fishing gear that claims to be 'for women'.


First, I came up with 6 well-known fishing gear manufacturers:

Penn
Okuma
Ugly Stik
Daiwa
Pflueger
Shimano

I have Penn, Okuma and Shimano gear. They are equally good and none of them are 'for ladies'. I have a soft spot for Penn but without any real evidential backing.

Anyway, I then went to their websites and checked to see if they had any fishing gear that was labelled as For Women. Penn and Daiwa did not, the other four did. Here is a sample of what was on offer, with the blurbs copied directly from the sites:

Ugly Stik Spinning Ladies Combo:



"Ugly Stik® GX2™ rods offer better balance for lighter feel, improved components, and eye catching cosmetics for a more modern look designed specifically for women."

So they claim that what women need in a fishing rod is for it to be light and improved, and have eye-catching cosmetics. Which apparently means having pink accents on your rod and reel. I went and had a look at the other GX2 combos, and what I found was the same set of specs listed above, with different reels that weren't pink.

Okuma SST Ladies Edition:


"SST Ladies Edition Rods Feature-

Technique and species specific rod actions
Sensitive IM-8 graphite rod blank construction
E-glass rod blank construction on Halibut rods
Durable stainless steel guide frames
Zirconium guide inserts reduce friction from braided lines
Halibut/Sturgeon rods use heavy duty boat guide frames
Custom 1-K woven carbon fiber pipe reel seat on Salmon rods
Custom IM-8 graphite pipe reel seat on UL and most spinning rods
Premium fore and rear grips on all models
Halibut rods feature a triangular shaped foregrip with shrink tubing
Integrated compressed cork butt cap, non skid surface
Stainless steel hook keeper

So there's nothing there that actually claims to be specifically designed for ladies. I looked up the standard SST rods, and the blurb for them is *exactly* the same - but the rod is a gold colour. So I can only assume that Okuma believe that to make a rod be for ladies, it means.. making the rod pink.

Shimano Lipstix:


"The Shimano Lipstix range of rods were designed specifically for the growing number of female anglers that are taking to the water and wetting a line in a previously male dominated past time.

The Shimano Lipstix series of rods consist of 6 models that cater for most fishing applications - in the range there are 2 graphite models (TDLS127 - FRESHWATER SPIN and TDLS130 - SPIN) available that provide lady anglers a more responsive and decerning spinning rod."

You'll note that they don't actually say anything specific about why these rods are for women. I looked at the specifications and I couldn't see anything there either. But I do note that the rod is purple and has little lipstick kisses on it...

Pflueger Lady Trion Spinning Combo:


"Designed specifically for women anglers. Custom grip lengths, proper size reels, and specific actions that make fishing more enjoyable for women anglers. A proud supporter of the American Breast Cancer Foundation."

These guys claim that the grip length is important, and that their rods have a specific action. Wow, something that may actually make a difference! Also, their rod is pink (to be fair it also comes in fetching turquoise), and for every Lady Trion Combo you buy, Pfleuger will make a donation to the American Breast Cancer Foundation. I'm impressed. These guys really thought about what women want when they designed the Lady Trion.

So anyway, I wasn't all that satisfied with what I found - a bunch of pink rods with a bunch of vague claims about making fishing more enjoyable for women, and nothing specific about exactly how this would happen. Because I'm that kind of girl, I thought I'd investigate further. So I sent the following email to all four of our Ladies Fishing Gear developers:

"I'm a keen fisher and have been for a number of years. At the moment I'm into spinning and a bit of softbaiting - mostly light line stuff. I was browsing your site and found the Lady Trion range, designed especially for lady anglers, and it got me curious - I'm wondering what features of these combos make them best suited for women? It's not clear from the overview on the site. As someone who's been fishing for years with just any old gear with the right specs, I'd really like to know!"

Of the four manufacturers, only Pflueger has got back to me. Here is what they said:

"The Lady Trion series of equipment has all the same specs and conditions that the regular series does, it just comes in a different “pretty” color."

They get 10/10 for honesty, at least. It does kind of make the claims on their website look stupid though.

Now, this may not be confirmation that all of the ladies' fishing rods are labelled 'ladies' because they are pink - but the silence from the other dealers speaks volumes in my mind. I'm going to assume here that there are no special features that make fishing more fun for women anglers, and that the vague claims made on the sites are that vague because there's really nothing they can say honestly that doesn't also sound patronising. I mean, "Hey look, we made it pink because we know you love pink, right?" is not likely to convince women to buy a rod.

This assumption is not based entirely on what you see here. It's also based on having been an angler for over half my life. I've never bought ladies gear, because fishing isn't a sport that requires differently sized, shaped or engineered equipment based on gender. Not all rods are the same, but if you have the right spec for the type of fishing you're doing, you're good. Seriously. Ladies' rods are bullshit.


I can see an argument that *some* women might like to have a special rod that's their very own, and because of the way our society has gendered pink as a women's colour, *some* women might be encouraged to see that as more theirs than the regular ones. And for a small number of women, that may encourage them to take up fishing.

For me, I find it both patronising and insulting that these manufacturers are making claims about the design of this gear being tailored to women's needs when all they are really doing is providing a normal spec rod and reel - in pink. They are shouting, loud and clear, that what women need is pink. And as a subtext, they are also suggesting that a) women don't know enough about fishing to notice that there's really no difference, and b) every other rod in their range is for men, because women and pink. And no other reason, because there isn't one, but look - PINK STUFF LADIES!

*ahem*

I'll keep sourcing my fishing gear from the men's regular section thanks. And I think Penn and Daiwa will be getting my money from now on.

I'll keep you posted if Ugly Stik, Shimano or Okuma ever get back to me about their ladies' gear.

Comments:

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From:bekitty
Date:July 22nd, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
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Having the same specs with pink is better than some other "for women" stuff I've seen. There are manufacturers who make really low-grade shit, colour it pink, and THEN claim it's "for women". For example, tool sets. I've seen better sets of screwdrivers for sale at the $2 shop than the ones that Bunnings trots out.

Also, if Pflueger donates money to ABCF, then good for them. That's far better than the Komen Foundation. Komen's gross.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:July 22nd, 2014 09:52 pm (UTC)
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I wonder to what extent the "for women" is actually just for marketing and search results.

For the beginner female fisher that knows nothing about the sport, they might think there is some subtle difference in dimensions. Even though you've shown there isn't, a beginner would have no idea without doing a bunch of research first, and that doesn't matter for clicks and search engine ranking.

If one supplier bills something as a "Women's fishing rod", then they'll get that search traffic over a business that doesn't make that distinction. It might only be 10% of women who'll do that, but that is 10% more sales than otherwise, even if most women buy regular non-gendered fishing rods. One assumes this is the case otherwise it wouldn't be the economical to manufacture a special rod model even if it is almost identical to the others.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:July 22nd, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC)
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Also, I really like the colours of the Pfueger and the Ugly Stik. They actually look stylish.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 22nd, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC)
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Based almost entirely on what I read while doing this research (and therefore not verified as evidence), it looks as though a lot of the people buying these rods are men buying them for partners and daughters - probably as a way of encouraging them into the sport.

I am not sure I have time to go into the psychology of that. ;-)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:July 22nd, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC)
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I wonder about that too...

If someone has grown up in the culture as it is without really being critical of it, is it bad if there are things that play into that culture in order to make it easier for people to do sports/things that are usually dominated by the other gender?

Basically hacking the existing stereotypes and preferences to let people lead the fullest lives possible.

We tend to live in a very educated/enlightened/intelligent bubble, and a long time ago it was sometimes frustrated for me by the way past friends crippled their lives to conform to gender expectations.

e.g. women in computing or STEM subjects. if you give a girl that's already taught that pink is for girls a computer that's pink... and it gets them into computing, and eventually drop the whole pink thing when they're older, then is that a bad thing that pink computers for girls exist?
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From:tatjna
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:43 pm (UTC)
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You're right, it works - for some women. For others of us, it's offputting.

I think it's in part the assumption that women are a monolith that drives my frustration with the 'for women' trend of pinkness.

I think in STEM, a pink computer may help some girls feel included - but there's a whole lot of other stuff going on there that needs to change as well before pink doesn't just feel patronising. I loved our school's beige machines when I was 13. I didn't love the way I kept getting told that maths was for boys and how my brother got offered computing as an elective while I got typing.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:July 23rd, 2014 01:50 am (UTC)
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The beige was an abomination that slowly morphed into corrosive yellow!

Although it was cool that you could tell how old a computer was by how yellow its case had become.
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From:happyinmotion
Date:July 23rd, 2014 06:53 am (UTC)
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There's one justification for making stuff for girls pink and that's to stop boys from stealing it.

Still, that's a crap justification coz it's presenting girl stuff as less desirable.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:July 23rd, 2014 02:38 pm (UTC)
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It's also presenting pink as gendered colour. There's no real reason why it should stop boys from stealing it, except we think is domain of women. Society may think you're less manly if you're seen in the vicinity of pink.
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From:llearch
Date:July 22nd, 2014 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Is it wrong that I like that purple colour on the Shimano Lipstix? I mean, I could do without the kiss marks, but the purple is kinda nice.

... of course, given the amount of fishing I do (approximately zero in the last 25 years) it'd get more use if I hung it on the wall than went fishing with it, but that's a side issue, surely... ;-]
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From:tatjna
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
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Totally not wrong. It would be wrong if I assumed that your liking for it was because you're a man and then made every fishing rod for men purple.
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From:Will Marshall
Date:July 24th, 2014 03:59 am (UTC)
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Purple is for gay men. Universally. Duh.
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From:thesecondcircle
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:10 pm (UTC)
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I hate this sort of thing and am always suspicious of it. If different colors are an interesting feature for fishers, then make the rods in a range of colors and move on. I might choose a pretty color because "pretty" or because DH and I have identical rods and need a way to differentiate (I'm a lefty, so I have reversed spool thingy). So he can have blue and I get red or he gets black and I get silver. Cool.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
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All my rods are black. The only way I can tell them apart is because of the length. They just came in that colour..
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From:plantgirl
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:10 pm (UTC)
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I don't fish, but I am annoyed by color coding for gender. It happens in rain coats, too. Sometimes the coats are actually built to work better for boobs, but more often they are just in "feminine" colors like pink and purple and aqua. Well, thank you, but I wanted the navy blue and you are only offering that color in men's sizes. Grrr.

As a gardener who did heavy landscaping work, finding proper work gloves for hands as small as mine is very challenging. I have only ever found one brand that makes gloves sturdy enough for me. All other brands make delicate little gloves in pastel colors, or with flowers on them. Some are even thin leather. They might work if you want to keep the potting soil off your hands while setting up some seedlings. But if you're trying to keep the potting soil off your hands why are you messing with plants?

I recently found out about a shovel that is engineered for how women are built and how they use their strength. I'm glad there's a tool that will make my life easier.

But I think the company should be shot for using (coining?) the word hergonomics. No, shooting isn't good enough. Ergonomics is ergonomics, which means making things to fit the people using them. There is absolutely no need to genderify it. so perhaps they should be strangled, hung, flogged, drawn, quartered, and then burnt.

But the shovel is cool. :)
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From:tatjna
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:47 pm (UTC)
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I saw that thing with the shovel. As someone who's spent many years swinging off shovels, I'd definitely be interested to try it and see how different it feels.

It annoyed me that the picture that went with it shows a woman digging with a shovel though. Shovels are not for digging, they are for shovelling. Spades are for digging.

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From:pundigrion
Date:July 27th, 2014 02:00 am (UTC)
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I've seen that shovel in person. It was one of the ones I considered to replace the crappy one that came with the house.

That thing is crazy heavy! Ergonomics my arse, I'd be wiped out just having to heft it multiple times with a load of dirt. K thought the same thing even with his superior upper body strongliness. Also in use the GIANT handle would have hit me in the boobs.

I did like the extra large stepping platform though. Would indeed be very easy to stand on and jump up and down on when splitting tough overgrown hostas, which is also about the only time when it being so heavy would even make sense. Two forks would still make a better job of it though and I could have bought three for the price of that shovel. I'm all for paying good money in order to get a proper tool, but the price difference was a bit absurd.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:July 23rd, 2014 12:57 am (UTC)
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I can relate. More than once I've wanted a piece of clothing a certain colour, but no, that colour is for women. Men only like drab boring things apparently.

Except for macpac merino. It's merino and warm, but also and in BRIGHT BLUE and ORAANGE. I like them alot.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 23rd, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
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and STRIPEY!
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From:fbhjr
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:28 pm (UTC)
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I never understand that stuff.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:48 pm (UTC)
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I really wish I didn't.
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From:fbhjr
Date:July 22nd, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)
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I understand that the average ergonomics of women are different from men. And, I can understand why that could lead to different design.
But, pink?
That's just dumb.
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From:richaarde
Date:July 23rd, 2014 01:03 am (UTC)
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The funny thing is that I can't picture a woman that's dainty enough to be appealed by "fishing rods for her" would actually want to fish. I don't think any women that go fishing really care what their equipment looks like, as long as it works.

I'm trying to imagine what the opposite would look like, a fishing pole for men emblazoned with a football team logo or a blue-collar beer logo.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 23rd, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
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Clearly it would have to be large and manly. And perhaps have a big blade on the end.
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From:richaarde
Date:July 23rd, 2014 04:24 am (UTC)
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And shooting flames. You need flames to be extra-manly.
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From:tyellas
Date:July 23rd, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
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I'm a girly-girl and I could care less about empinkening when it comes to gendered sports items and hand tools. I dislike the color pink to the point that if there's a pink item in my house, somebody else gave it to me.

What would be actually helpful to me would be not gendering, but items with handles, etc. for smaller hands. This would also be helpful for young people getting started using the tools/sports items.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 23rd, 2014 02:49 am (UTC)
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Blade shears, I'm looking at you.
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From:dragonvyxn
Date:July 23rd, 2014 04:40 am (UTC)
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fuck pink. the response you got up there was partly hilarious and partly infuriating...
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From:tatjna
Date:July 23rd, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
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Mostly I just laughed while going *eyeroll*
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From:meathiel
Date:July 23rd, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
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I have to admit if it has the same specifications as the fishing rod for men I'd go with the purple one as well. Because I like purple ... haha ... could do without the lipstick marks as well, though.
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From:goddessofchaos
Date:July 23rd, 2014 01:14 pm (UTC)
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When I was looking for hiking boots I came up against the same issue - almost all the ladies boots in some shops had pink trim. I have no strong feelings about pink, I own one or two pink items of clothing, but pink on hiking boots just because they're for women seemed rather stupid (plus, who really needs their hiking boots to be pretty? They're for tramping through mud.)

Funnily enough there's been a trend this season for men's clothing in pink, although I'm not sure how much of it actually sold - there was a lot of it left in the sales! I suppose pink for women is nothing but a cultural norm that's ground into us from early childhood. It does seem to me to be a more feminine colour, but is that just because I'm programmed to think that way?
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From:tatjna
Date:July 25th, 2014 09:37 am (UTC)
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Back in Ye Olden Tymes, apparently pink was the boys' colour apparently. So yeah, I think we're all just programmed to think that way.
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From:adam_0oo
Date:July 24th, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
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LOVE how much research you did for this.

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From:tatjna
Date:July 25th, 2014 09:33 am (UTC)
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Aw, thanks! ;-)
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From:didotwite
Date:July 26th, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
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Pink it and Shrink it.
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