8 Products You’d Never Guess Were Marketed Toward Women

At Gurl, we’ve written a lot about the construct of gender and how gender socialization is a hell of a drug. One of the most obvious examples of gendered nonsense can be seen in advertising, like products slathered in pink and fruity scents marking the feminine, while masculine products are shrouded in grays, blues, and alpine motifs. Seriously, what’s with products for men alluding to mountains and forests all the time? Gender norms have such a strong hold on us that it’s seen as revolutionary for men to wear skirts, or for girls to rock buzz cuts. We’re legit still shook by things like that…in the 21st century…

But what’s really fascinating is the fact the powers that be can switch the script on us and give all of us a collective case of amnesia. For example, very few people know that pink used to be a masculine color, or that heels were commonly worn by men. And I bet even less people know about these eight things that used to be marked toward women, but are regularly associated with men today. Get ready for a few surprises.


Okay, this ad is just...next level hilarious. But it also coincides with Mustang's original marketing strategy: Get ladies to buy this car. You see, a mustang wasn't always associated with big shot men who have the money to rock a luxury car; it was initially a car for young, independent women who were coming of age in the '60s and '70s. Not only were those women more independent in terms of defying traditional cultural expectations, they were also becoming more fiscally independent as well. Mustang wanted to be the car for that growing demographic.


Old Spice

Old Spice wasn't always about buff men being buff and smelling good. In the beginning, Old Spice was actually a collection of soaps and fragrances marketed toward women. Seriously, the smell was inspired by the Old spice founder's mom's potpourri. Super manly, right?



7-Up was originally marketed toward women because its ingredients initially included lithium citrate, which is a mood stabalizer. This is where the "up" in 7-Up comes from; it was for pep! Do you know who needs a lot of pep? Housewives who don't have jobs and have nothing better to do than slave away at a hot stove and make babies...basically, the women of the1940s. Speaking of babies, many mothers actually gave their kids 7-Up when they were fussy. Woof...


Marlboro Cigarettes

Marlboro is strongly associated with the "Marlboro Man," a cowboy who...well, loves Marlboro cigarettes, I guess. But originally, Marlboro was marketed as a women's cigarette! Marlboro's original tag lines were "light as may" and "ivory tips to protect the lips." Ivory tips referred to the cigarette's filter. At the time, filters were considered incredibly effeminate, so they were marketed heavily toward women as opposed to their heavy, unfiltered alternative. Only the most delicate, dainty cigarette for the most delicate and dainty of creatures, I guess. Pfft. Filter or not, they still gave people a nasty case of cancer, so...



Most of us usually associate fedoras to men's rights activists who spend way too much time trolling people online and whining about why women won't date them. But the fedora didn't always have this association. The term fedora was coined in 1887 from a popular play starring actress Sara Bernhardt who wore a hat that looked incredibly similar to the fedora we think of today. Bernhardt was involved in the women's rights movement at the time, and many women decided to adopt the fedora as somewhat of a feminist symbol and an eff you to traditional gender roles. Over time, the hat became popular with men, too, which is why so many of us think that fedoras were originally a look adopted by handsome actors of Hollywood's golden era. The fedora made its way through various subcultures, including the ska scene in the 80s and the swing revival of the '90s before becoming associated with pickup artists and Nice Guys. Surprise surprise, another thing that men ruined.


Wrist Watches

This was a complete shocker to me: Wrist watches were originally marketed exclusively toward women. Why? Well, men's clothing usually had pockets, so many men already had pocket watches on lock. It wasn't until the end of the 19th century that men in the military started wearing wrist watches. It wasn't long before wrist watches became more gender neutral.


Light Beer

Light beer might make you think of frat bros binge drinking, but it was often marketed toward women as a low-calorie option. The marketing wasn't always super obviously gendered like a yogurt advert, however. To be fair, light beer is still marketed as a little more waistline friendly, but the advertising world has caught up on the fact that it's not only women who care about fitting into their jeans.



Okay, so Lysol is still argely marketed toward women because women are still the ones who are expected to be clean, tidy, and care about having a spotless home. But Lysol used to be marketed toward women in a very different way than it is now. Yup, Lyson wasn't originally for kitchen counters, it was originally for the vagina. Seriously, Lysol was used as a douching agent to get rid of unpleasant vaginal odors. I mean, who doesn't want their cooch to smell lemony fresh, amirite?

(I--I'm wrong...never do this...EVER.)


Which of these products is most surprising to you? Do you think that we all align ourselves with gender norms too much without ever questioning them? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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