“Act like a lady. Think like a man.”
This is what Bic South Africa preached to women in their newest ad for Women’s Day this past Sunday. The phrase doesn’t bring us any closer to shattering the glass ceiling. In fact, it actually might drag us down a couple stories.
The full ad read “Look like a girl. Act like a lady. Think like a man. Work like a boss.” A woman in a gray power suit smiled confidently next to the words. Bic, while meaning to inspire and empower, wound up looking misogynistic and derogatory. Social media users weren’t afraid to voice their opinions. One Facebook commenter criticized the regression back to “proper” lady-like behavior while another posed the question of why she was expected to see the world through a masculine lens.
Bic did earn a few brownie points for promptly posting an apology, but lost them just as quickly due to the same sexist tone spread throughout the post. They claimed:
“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.”
Naturally, this offended even more, causing Bic to delete their original apology and post a new one that sounded slightly more apologetic:
“Hi everyone. Let’s start out by saying we’re incredibly sorry for offending everybody – that was never our intention, but we completely understand where we’ve gone wrong. This post should never have gone out. The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.”
Coming from the company that created a baby pink pen “just for her,” no one was overly willing to forgive another poorly-executed attempt to reach women. Ladies aren’t drawn to pens because of their rosy color in the same way that employers don’t hire women because they “act lady-like” and “think in a manly way.” Employers want employees who do their work, and women – just like their male counterparts – want a pen that works, too.