In celebration of International Women's Day, TANGS departmental store sent out an electronic direct mailer to customers offering promotions on several products targeted at women.
These consisted of frying pans, high heels, makeup, facial products, and a shaving appliance. They're also listed on the TANGS website.
They annoyed some people, though.
According to Marketing magazine, for instance, these products "remind a woman that she belongs in the kitchen".
The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) took it a step further to say that the campaign "trivialised" the significance of the event.
Its spokesperson, Jolene Tan, was quoted in the Today report as saying that the campaign ignored "the struggle of women in the city-state, who are pushing for better representation in company boardrooms".
We thought about it, though, and think they might be mistaken. Here's why:
Perhaps they're assuming that women who cook aren't... women?
Okay, let's start by tracing their thought process here.
- The promotion, to begin with, ties in with International Women's Day, so we know it is targeted at women.
- The decision to put frying pans on discount would be targeted at women who would be interested in owning frying pans, i.e. perhaps would be interested in cooking in general.
We have trouble tracing the logical leap that Marketing Interactive and AWARE have taken from that to their decision to protest this promotion.
If reaching out to women who are interested in cooking is deemed to be a problem by the likes of Marketing Interactive and AWARE, are these folks then saying that women who enjoy cooking and would be interested in a promotion like that are not the women International Women's Day celebrates?
Or looking at it from another angle, why is it a problem that they choose to specifically target this subset of women?
We can't tell.
Or maybe they're saying these women TANGS is targeting are not as "womanly" as the ideal they have in mind.
Now, we're not sure if these protesting parties are disagreeing with this because they have a particular, specific idea of what a "woman" is.
Perhaps it's the power-suit-wearing CEO who spends 16 hours a day at work, in charge of 5000 employees in a multinational corporation?
Or maybe it's the women in Parliament, in Cabinet? Those breaking the glass ceilings of society?
Here's a fact for you: every woman is every bit of a woman as any woman you might have in your mind. A prostitute is a woman. A domestic helper is a woman. A policewoman is a woman. A woman who is attracted to other women is, you guessed it, still a woman.
And every woman, no matter what job she has, how many children she has, how many kitchen appliances she has or wants to buy, is just as much of a woman as any other woman who doesn't.
By the way, what did the frying pans do to deserve this?
Do us a favour and go to the promotion page on the TANGS website, for a moment. Here it is again, if you didn't click the link earlier.
Okay, so now you've seen it, you'll have noticed that frying pans are just two of the items on the "menu". The list consists, in fact, overwhelmingly of makeup and facial products, none of which we see anyone taking issue with.
Now, why is that? Why aren't they criticising TANGS for saying that "women must wear make-up" or "women must look after their complexion"?
There's also a pair of heels on the list, so while we're at it, why don't we throw in the despicable idea that "women must wear heels to look good for men", and how horrible that is obviously because we all know how damaging heels are to the feet?
By the way, in case you want to claim frying pans can be used by both men and women, therefore why single them out for women on International Women's Day, we'll have you know that many men use facial products, and even makeup. Undeniably, some men have started to wear heels as well.
So why not call them out for all the other products? We honestly fail to see how the frying pans are any more demeaning to women than any of the other products on sale — and in saying that we are saying none of them are, in case you were wondering.
Want to talk about gender equality? Sure, let's.
Gender equality is about giving women the same choices and autonomy that are accorded to men.
If we want to offer women the choice to lead in a boardroom, for instance, then we must also extend them the same choice to cook in the kitchen if they so desired, no?
Saying that the promotion "remind(s) a woman that she belongs in the kitchen" not only imposes irrelevant conclusions on it, it also ironically betrays the perception on the part of those who accuse TANGS of this: the clearly flawed notion that women who cook in a kitchen are inferior to other women who, say, lead an army of staff.
Which, if you think about it, is a weird distinction to make in the first place — who says high-powered women can't or choose not to cook?
Perhaps that's not what Marketing Interactive or AWARE mean — but that's what the housewife who devotes her time to make a good home for her family is going to think, when she is told that frying pans "remind a woman that she belongs in the kitchen".
In the spirit of celebrating women (in all kinds of professions, salaried or not) we suggest that AWARE sit back and enjoy that 90 per cent off frying pan.
After all, really — who doesn't like a good deal?
Top photo via Wikipedia and TANGS