I found myself in need of a notebook and pen after work yesterday. This happens from time to time and has led to stockpiles of barely-used notebooks spread among my shelves and various book bags. It’s a sickness. I know.
So there I was at Bartell’s, a bit giddy in my favorite aisle of any store—office supplies. I chose a 7×5” notebook (mostly white, with a poppy design on 1/3 of the front). It was the perfect size—small enough to be portable with a decent page size for complete thoughts. I moved onto pens where I can sometimes spend an hour if the selection is large enough. (The new City Target opens this weekend, and should have an enviable back-to-school selection…*drool*)
I’m picky when it comes to pens. I like a pen that flows well, isn’t too heavy but has substance, with good width and medium line width. Ball point is preferred. I like colored inks, purple especially, but green or even red will do in a pinch, but I will always take black ink over blue, for some reason.
And a bit of style in the pen design is always a bonus.
I found a winner after a careful 15 minute consideration. It was, or so the package proclaimed, “For Her.”
I’m good friends with several “Hers” so I shot a picture of the pens to share with one of them. It was met with the question (asked in very un-ladylike language) if the pen was refilled by inserting it into a place that only a “Her” possessed. I checked the packaging carefully and this did not appear to be the case. In fact, despite the pink and purple of the pen bodies, the ink was your basic industrial black ink. It claimed to write smoothly, but so do all their pens.
In fact, the only thing “Her” about the pens seemed to be that they were a bit prettier. Ok, in the boring world of writing utensils, they were notably prettier.
I must have missed the memo that said pretty things were exclusively for “Her.” I would venture that most of the “Hers” I know would agree with me. Has the gender war finally come to office products? Does this mean all the other pens are for “Him?” Is there now a pen for women to write a rescue note from their 19th century drawing rooms or something?
There has been a lot of buzz, and deservedly so, about companies marketing products to women that reinforce tired gender roles. From Malibu Barbie to pink animal hospital / cupcake shop Leggos, they compartmentalize the female experience along lines that are increasingly irrelevant. And in doing so, they define what it is to be a boy by default. I want to see an Electrical Engineer Barbie that says things like “Those circuits need to pass QA before they ship.” I want a GI Joe that cries.
Because I hate to alarm those fine folks at BiC Pens, but I bought those writing utensils designed for “Her.” They do write smooth. I carved out the first draft of this post with one over a very manly meal of beer, tater tots, and grilled cheese at a neighborhood pirate-themed brew pub.
Because I’m a “Him,” goddamit. And I won’t let you or anybody else tell me that men don’t like things that are pretty. Because part of being a man is being confident in yourself to openly like what you like.
And I like my new favorite pens.
Update: By popular demand, a link to my picture of the pens. I wanted to use it as the main image, but was having tech issues.