All we meant was

Bic South Africa, much to its surprise, is getting irritated reactions to its so clever and friendly ad in honor of national women’s day. They thought the ad was “empowering.”

Let’s see it again, so that we know where we are.

How is it “empowering” to tell women to look like a girl? How is it “empowering” to tell them to think like a man? How is it “empowering” not to mention the word “woman”? How is it “empowering” to tell women to be like every kind of person except a woman?

How is it “empowering” to tell women they should look childlike? How is it “empowering” to tell women that thinking belongs to men? How is it “empowering” to tell women to act like the prissy refined delicate version of their real selves? How is any of this anything other than insulting?

Among those taking to Twitter to condemn the advert, feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned for a female face on UK banknotes, tweeted: “What fresh hell is this” and “srsly, ‘think like a man’…*stabs eyes out with bic pen*”.

Commentators were swift to point out it was not the first time the company has faced accusations of sexist marketing. Its pink “for her” pens in 2012 “designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand” were derided by, among many others, the US comedian Ellen Degeneres.

So, wiser and more alert after that experience, they –

– oh never mind.

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