The month’s worst case of Metatarsals in Mouth

August 11, 2015 • 1:30 pm

Life is Savage reprints this Facebook ad that Bic South Africa ran to celebrate Womens Day last Sunday:


Is someone with two neurons to rub together in charge of Bic’s Facebook? Apparently not.

After a stream of criticism, Bic retracted the add and issued a notapology:

“We would like to apologise to all our fans who took offense to our recent Women’s Day Post. We can assure you that we meant it in the most empowering way possible and in no way derogatory towards women. We took the quote from a “Women in Business” blog site.
The blog site explains the quote and what its intentions were when it was written. BIC believe in celebrating women and the powerful contribution women make to our society.”

Yeah, celebrate women and their contributions—so long as they look like girls and think like men.

h/t: Grania (You can find more information and verification, including a funny video by Ellen DeGeneris about Bic’s “pens for her”, at The Independent)

67 thoughts on “The month’s worst case of Metatarsals in Mouth

  1. ya know, I’m going to miss Jon Stewart but with Trump and now Bic, we don’t NEED satirists as these folks COME self-satirized!

  2. I’m torn between envisioning the person who put together BIC’s advert as a basement-dwelling troglodyte who has not managed to actually meet any real live women yet; or a cynical marketing genius who realized that there was one guaranteed way to get BIC’s attempt capitalize on SA’s Women’s Day to go viral…

    1. Sadly, I’d bet this is the product of some progressive old white male groupthink. As the saying goes, never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

    2. My money is squarely on “cynical marketing genius.” One would have to be thick as a proverbial brick to not realize that post is condescending and that would crack the top ten most mendacious things I’ve seen done in the name of marketing.
      Still, it could be the former. No shortage of troglodytes in the world and BIC is a big company, there’s bound to be a few of them working there.

  3. Though whenever the suggestion is made that women are less aggressive then men in business and might account for some statistical differences (male primates are certainly more aggressive and territorial than females) feminists urge women to be more aggressive and assertive. I guess it depends on who is doing the talking as to whether it’s sexist or not.

    1. Encouraging someone to be more assertive is not the same as telling a woman to “look like a girl and think like a man”. You do see the difference, right?

      1. Most of the thinking among our species, at least until recent history, which has led to palpable impact on civilization for better (e.g. technology, science, art, medicine etc.) or worse (e.g. wars, religions, pollution)
        has come from men.

        So the offensive part is not so much about the presumption of the origin of consequential thought overwhelmingly being male – a historical fact – but rather the assumption that such thought is necessarily automatically a good thing – historically not shown to be the case.

        1. “…the origin of consequential thought overwhelmingly being male – a historical fact…”

          I have no idea how this can be demonstrated.

          1. There are facts, and there are causes.

            I should think a literature survey could easily determine the fact statistically. The relatively smaller number of women who were influential in art, science, philosophy – or even politics – are (justifiably) renowned.

            Now whether that is because of different abilities, gender-wise, or simply that women were socially not ‘expected’ to shine in what was a ‘mans world’ is arguable.

            (Disclaimer: I favour the latter interpretation, mostly because I want to think that women can do things just as well as men).


            1. But there are so many cases we know of where women were not allowed to attend universities, not allowed to hold the same positions in religion, politics, academia, etc., not allowed to publish…

              I really don’t see how we can extrapolate from the lack of women’s presence in the historical record to “…the origin of consequential thought…”

              And for that matter I would suggest that the “origin of consequential thought” predates history by a long shot.

              1. I guess this depends partly on the definition of ‘consequential thought’. I’m taking it to mean ‘thought (or reasoning) which has significant practical consequences.’

                Look at the history of any field you like – philosophy, engineering, chemistry, literature, politics – you name it – and the majority of major influential figures have been male. (As Charlize pointed out, their influence has not always been good!). More so the further you go back in time.
                I think this probably is a demonstrable fact.

                The reasons for this can be debated. 100 years ago it would have been argued that ‘women’s brains are not suited for logical reasoning’ or some such. (I disagree with this). These days, it would be more likely attributed to historical social factors, as your first paragraph implies. Women were not encouraged to have ‘consequential thoughts’.


              2. “Women were not encouraged to have ‘consequential thoughts’.”

                Which is not the same thing as saying they weren’t thinking them.

              3. Yeah, I think we’re just quibbling over the definition of a word. I could have the most revolutionary, world-shaking thought ever, but if I never publish it, or it gets suppressed or ignored for whatever reason, then (by my definition) it isn’t ‘consequential’.


              4. Haha! I think I’ve had some men look disgusted like that at me for sharing my opinion. I think they might have been from the past.

    2. How do you know “be assertive” is what is meant by “think like a man”?

      And even if it is, why on earth would they put it that way? “Let’s celebrate women by suggesting that they could improve themselves by following the great example men have set.”

    3. “depends on” the talker’s gender ?

      The answer to that one’s easy:
      for the advertisement of .any. workplace tool such as a cheap pen?

      Thus, then, as with FLIP / REVERSE:
      … Look like a boy
      … Act like a gentleman
      … Think like a woman
      … Work like a worker bee

      Will not be happening for the pitching of how to .increase. the sales o’any such tool, will it be?


      1. Yes. Such an exercise in inversion is always a good way to do a gut-check.

        It’s how I know I’m not “islamaphobic” when I make fun of Muhammad riding his flying horse into the sunset, because I also make fun of Jesus getting his guts groped through a gaping chest wound and because most Westerners would be cool with making fun of a blue-skinned thousand-armed Hindu monkey god.

        But compare the common juvenile “Don’t be so gay!” locker room taunt with “Don’t be so straight!” or similar ones from past generations relating to skin color and the problem becomes obvious.


        1. In what I stated there is no “problem”.

          I believe I have stated this here before but not for some time so perhaps in the case that others may want to know it as well: Sexism is unlike any other –ism or any other phobia of human beings by human beings.


    1. When I was in Bloomington, MN, I did see a range of tools with pretty pink handles in one of the department stores (Sears)?

      So much better for the fairer sex!

      (They were not noticeably slimmer than “men’s” tools, however.)


      1. In the early ’80s, my mother signed up for a course in car repair. It was aimed at women and called “Powder Puff Car Repair.” Each woman got a pink tool box with tools with pink handles.

        As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.

        1. Yeah, I’ve seen that in a store – a range of carpentry tools (hammers etc) with pink handles. Struck me as daft.


  4. Work like a boss? Frankly I think its often the case that the further down on the corporate food chain you are, the harder you work. So with that thought in mind, how about this for motivation:

    Work like an intern
    Dress like a broker
    Learn like a scientist
    Get paid like a doctor.

  5. After a stream of criticism, Bic retracted the add and issued a notapology:

    Yes, I hear that retractable advertisements are the latest and greatest thing in writing implements these days. Click-click and it vanishes back to where it came from.

    Wait — what? You mean it doesn’t actually go like that?


    Maybe they should hire somebody who can think like somebody intelligent to help them through these difficult concepts. Maybe then they can get their act together and work something out. Until then, seems like they’re just a bunch of kids playing dress-up.


              1. Ah. I’ve never typed on one. The only electrics I’ve typed on were the original and II Selectric models. Those were good machines, too….


  6. If we accept that pens are one of the more potent phallic symbols, BIC is essentially a bunch of dicks.

  7. I’m not condoning derogatory language or imagery but it’s advertising, folks. How often is advertising not derogatory or condescending to somebody? I don’t need to watch TV for more than about 10 minutes to find an ad that’s at least a little offensive – towards men and women. To be honest it took me a while to realise this ad was derogatory. Maybe that’s because I’m a white male troglodyte or maybe it’s because I’m at the end of a 14 hour work day and my brain is fried, but I also didn’t set out to find it offensive. Maybe there should be a trigger warning at the top of this page.

    1. Certainly some people are oversensitive, or even outright manufacture offense where there should be none.

      I don’t think this is one of those instances. You really can’t imagine reading that from a woman’s perspective? “Think of all the wonderful things you can be, including more like a man! Wouldn’t that be better?!”

      1. Don’t forget – it’s being more like a man because you should “think like a man” with the implied message that “man thinking” is superior to “woman thinking”. Give me a break it’s insulting to men and women.

        1. I think “man thinking” is generally about things like geometry…such as why the quarterback should have thrown to the guy at the other end of the field, or the best angle for looking down a woman’s shirt. And man thinking about woman thinking would be chemistry — specifically, of course, how best to prepare the man’s food and clean up all the various messes.


    2. “To be honest it took me a while to realise this ad was derogatory. Maybe that’s because I’m a white male troglodyte”

      Exactly. That’s why it’s probably not a good idea for men to be writing copy intended for women.

  8. The Women in Business blog was featuring that quote as an example of what women have to do to get ahead in the current business climate. It’s not meant to be inspirational and empowering! It’s a set of survival tips.

    I’m not particularly sensitive to complaints about sexist language, but even I was a bit shocked to see this advertisement. 😛

  9. It shouldn’t have taken a genius to know that this ad wasn’t going to have The Sisterhood out flicking its Bic.

    What does “think like a man” mean, anyway — that women (or “girls” and “ladies,” in the Bic idiom) should watch more SportsCenter and think about sex every seven seconds (supposedly)?

  10. Thinkk like a man. Or, in the words of George Carlin, proclaim, “My God’s got a bigger dick than your God!” And then lay waste to innocent people in the name of the divine. Oh, I’m sorry, was that sexist sounding?

  11. Humankind waited 35 years until “trolling” found an equal counter-part: “social justice”. There was much rejoicing among obsolete professions: journalism and marketing finally found a way to capitalize convergence culture, which had pushed them to the edges of relevancy.

    If this is genuine at all, my bet is marketing.

  12. It doesn’t surprise me much. Every now and then I see an ad and think, does NOBODY at their head office have a cynical/dirty/suggestive** mind like mine? Or do they just keep quiet and chorus “Yes, great ad!” to their bosses for fear of not being positive enough?

    **delete whichever is inapplicable


Leave a Reply