Wednesday, November 26, 2008

But should I keep them?

Several years ago, I ordered something online from Dick Smith Electronics, and ever since then they’ve been sending me emails promoting their latest sales. Most of them I just glance at before deleting.

Today their marketing department sent me an email (parts pictured above and below). It gives me a perfect opportunity to point out something we gay and lesbian people have to put up with all the time: The automatic assumption that we’re heterosexual.

Clearly I wouldn’t be buying these products for a woman, so I certainly wouldn’t be expecting one to keep me around this summer or any other time. I’d bet that I’m not the only male who received this email who’s in that situation.

There’s also some pretty sexist language. The male can “play games for hours while she’s getting ready,” for example. It’s also a bit rich to imply that only a female would be a “Facebook fanatic”.

It’s all in keeping with the stores’ aura, which is pretty blokey. Not that they’re hostile or anything, it’s just that they’re not exactly the first place most gay folk would think of shopping. I’m sure that Dick Smith was trying to be funny and didn’t mean anything offensive and I’m definitely not offended. It’s just, would it really have killed them to come up with marketing emails that don’t make assumptions about who or what the recipient is? There are equally funny, inclusive ways these same products could have been promoted. And maybe that more inclusive approach might help gain them more sales to GLBT customers.

Because so many companies make the same assumptions, we gay people have to view all advertising with filters engaged: We screen out “heterosexist assumptions”, as it’s sometimes called, and look for information that’s relevant to us and our lives. This isn’t all bad—we can often detect bullshit a mile away—but it’s nice to sometimes see our lives reflected, too.

Having said all that, Dick Smith should get points for coming up with a way for guys to get away with buying tech toys for women. I won’t be among them, however.


d said...

I am equally offended that every product geared towards women (that's typically a 'guy' product) comes in some version of pink.
I.e. pink tool sets, and the very ad at the end of your post. :-P

Arthur Schenck said...

Yeah, I always thought that "everything's gotta be pink" nonsense was weird. How does merely colouring something pink make it girly all the sudden? Advertising and marketing people have a lot to explain....