Chips and Gender Stereotypes
11-Feb-2018


Are women embarrassed to eat chips in public? Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, seems to think so: in a recent interview she claimed that women do not like to crunch loudly or lick their fingers when eating chips in front of other people. To solve these issues, Nooyi announced a new line of “low crunch” lady Doritos, which would come in special packs specifically designed to fit into a woman’s purse. The ridiculousness of Nooyi’s comments sparked public backlash and begs the question: when will products stop being gender stereotyped? 

The concept of “Lady Doritos” is problematic: it suggests that women should be quiet and not heard. It suggests that women have to act a certain-and different-way in public. Sure, the company likely conducted tests where it found that some women are self-conscious about chewing loudly in public. But do we really need our own brand of chips, which we can stash in our purse, ashamed, because women shouldn’t eat junk food? It is also disconcerting that female CEO Nooyi, who has risen up to head one of the biggest food companies in the world, gave in to stereotype and discussed such a product with a straight face.

This is not the first time that a unisex product has been “transformed” and targeted towards women. BIC created a “For Her” line of pens “designed just for her” with a fashionable silhouette and comfortable grip—as if women cannot hold ordinary pens in their hands. Department store Target released gift cards for “Girls” and “Boys,” as if one could only buy suitably stereotyped items with the appropriate card. Then there are the countless “pink products” which essentially color an item pink, which magically means that they are more suitable and/or easier for a woman to use.

What these needlessly gendered products do is promote stereotypes that harm women—and men, too. Is a woman who dislikes the color pink forbidden to buy the regular toolset? Is a man unmanly if he buys the same soap as a woman? Gendered products insult women’s intelligence and promote the idea that women must be different-that they are weaker, that they must like “girly” things and follow traditional roles. Yes, these companies are trying to make money by marketing additional products, but they are also contributing to sexism towards women. 

Women today are too busy knocking down gender stereotypes: we don’t need to be told to “eat like a lady.” We don’t need a different pen or quieter snacks: we just want to eat our chips the same as anyone else.


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