until last year i had never thought about the products we sell as being 'for women' or 'for men'. our customers have been overwhelmingly female-- and i have been aware of that fact-- but i did not feel that we were being gender biased in our buying. the homewares i sell have, in fact, been intentionally gender-neutral.
in recent months, however, we have waded into the gendered product world by buying products specifically geared towards men. we have aftershave, beard oil, beautiful german-made safety razors, and vintage items of all kinds that seem like what you might find in a 'man shop'.
the interesting part to me is that all the items meant to invite more men into the shop-- while being thoroughly enjoyed and exclaimed over by the men who do wander in-- have been purchased almost exclusively by women. whether the women are buying for men or for themselves-- we don't always know-- but it is a sociological puzzle that raises some questions.
are women really the shoppers in our culture as the stereotypes suggest? are women more comfortable buying 'man' products for men than buying gender-neutral products for men? are women actually as interested in buying 'man' products for themselves as any other products? can we actually think of products for the body or home as gendered?
when i was in college i got into the habit (which has continued into my adulthood) of wearing men's cologne just simply because i liked the scent. i got so clear about which scents i preferred that i no longer even looked at the colognes meant for women. i assume that i am not alone in this gender-product cross-over.
so-- a more pointed question for me:
is having products that we think of as 'for women' or 'for men' just about like painting little girls' rooms pink and little boys' rooms blue?