Jane wishes all of our readers a sunny good morning. But, underneath, Jane is troubled by a number of things...particularly those associated with marketing to women.
Last evening Jane and her fiance, Tom, were invited to a delightful afternoon get together in the Susan B. Anthony historical district here in Rochester, NY. There were three couples spanning all age groups, from 'senior citizens' to baby boomers to Gen Xers. The senior citizens were no more 'senior' than the baby boomers. And the baby boomers were not a whole lot different in thinking than the Gen Xers.
The conversation revolved around "strong women." One man remarked that he thought the term "strong" was inappropriate as a label for the three women present. Society would term us "strong" for speaking out about our beliefs, for standing up for ourselves and for other women, and for demanding what we deserve, in life and in work. But, according to our gentleman friend, "strong" was not what we are. The word "strong," he remarked, gave him the impression of bulk, muscle, masculine attributes. Instead, he saw us as determined, accomplished, and capable. Those attributes seemed, to him, more appropriate descriptions.
Jane found his remarks interesting. Especially in contrast to the young woman present, who gave the men a compliment saying they had to be quite self-confident to be able to partner with such "strong" women as we...concluding that "strong" was a fine label to her.
After leaving the gathering, Jane began to wonder if this issue with using "strong" as a description of today's women is correct. Today's women --modern women such as Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Jane, all the excellent women bloggers, and more-- are merely echoing back to the days of the Iron Jawed Angels of the suffragist movement. Just as those "strong" women paraded forward to be heard, we parade forward, unwilling to let society deny us the right to-- play golf, be a rock climber, be a doctor or a dentist, be a mom, be a wife, be a congresswoman, be a truck driver, be a restaurant owner, be a writer, be an actor, be a limo driver, be anything we care to be.
Jane wonders if this makes us "strong" in the male sense of the term, as our gentleman friend noted yesterday. Or, does it make us "strong" in an entirely new sense of the word? Are we redefining what it means to be strong? Or are we merely reinvesting in the word, to show the world that strong is as much a female trait as a male trait and that strong is relative to the event, not the gender?
Certainly, it takes a strong person to endure childbirth, to endure the death of a child, to endure a messy divorce, the crippling of a family member, and any number of other life-changing events. Events that touch the lives of both men and women.
In those cases, men are expected to have a 'stiff upper lip' (think: no crying allowed) in order to be "strong." When women join in, managing those difficult times successfully, we are complimented with the "strong" label...and yet, we are merely reacting to circumstances to the best of our ability, the same as the men in our lives.
Yesterday, it was decided, by the three couples at this impromtu gathering, while drinking wine and munching appertifs, that the new millennium is about the way men and women are willing to work together, to give each other strength. We decided that there is a long road to travel, but perhaps more good people will be encouraged to forsake the wrong fork in the road, the one leading to yesteryear when misogyny was acceptable, and instead, take the right fork in the road...the one leading to collaboration and togetherness, building a world that lets our differences enhance our work ethic, not turn them into a sparring match.
When you think of marketing to women, especially women who shop online and feel a secure sense of invisibility (no face-to-face contact leading to compromise on preconceived notions of gender), are you thinking about how strong women are today, how capable, how forceful...or, are you taking the time to recognize that women come in all categories, just as men do, and that our strength sometimes comes from our relationships with the men in our lives?
Marketing to women is not about pink lace, frilly lingerie, or perfume and jewelry -- at least not all of the time -- it's about understanding who we are and where your product or service fits into our lives. Women, it was determined yesterday, are still the keepers of house and home, of the business supply cabinet, of scratched knees and stuffy noses, of headaches, sneakers, and so much more. We like it that way. The men in our lives like it that way. Even better...when the men care to handle the scratched knees, stuffy noses, dirty kitchen floors, or cooking dinner, strong women are appreciative...because women are not out to conqueor anything. We're merely here to support you whenever you need us.
What's not to like about that?