Feminist-ish (apologies to my mother)

September 27th, 2012

Has everyone heard of the new Bic “Pen for Her?” Are we all aware of this? It’s a pen. And it’s pink. And that’s pretty much it. Oh, and it’s a little thicker than a normal pen; all I have to say is, what a breakthrough for womankind! Someone has finally made a pen just for us! And it’s pink, too. I couldn’t have asked for anything better myself.

Those marketing geniuses have finally answered my deepest feminine desires and created the perfect pen for the delicate female hand.

So now it’s got me thinking, what if we could give some of the most famous female writers of the past four centuries one of these pens for their very own?

If Sylvia Plath had owned one of these pens, I’m sure that she would have written more poems about wedding cake ideas she got from Pinterest, new shoes and (probably) boxes of chocolates, instead of things like, “The idiot bird leaps out and drunken leans/ Atop the broken universal clock:/ The hour is crowed in lunatic thirteens.”

I am almost certain that if she had accrued one of these pink or purple pens, Dorothy Parker’s sharp tongue would have been significantly dulled (“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue”). It’s hard to be unconventionally hilarious when you’re writing with something so conventionally feminine.

Imagine if Jane Austen had gotten her hands on one of these Bic beauties.

Dear Eliza Bennet would surely have married Mr. Darcy upon first offer, no matter if she loved him or not. He had money. Or worse, she would have accepted Mr. Collins (gasp). Oh yes, she would have been a very conventional girl indeed.

Mary Wollstonecraft probably would never have even thought of writing “A Vindication for the Rights of Women” if she had had this pen, because, heck, we’ve already got a pen all for ourselves, what more could we ask for?

And dear, dear Virginia Woolf. Wouldn’t her life have been so much happier if someone had taken mercy upon her and gifted her with one of these lovely writing utensils?

The Brontë sisters, armed with pink and purple pens, would have ditched the gothic route altogether. Mr. Rochester and Heathcliff would have been perfect gentlemen, not at all tormented or brooding, and their heroines, Cathy and Jane, would have been the epitome of a 19th century lady, never daring to speak so boldly as to say, “Do you think that because I am poor, obscure, plain and little that I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!”

As for Emily Dickinson, well, let’s just say that if someone had given her one of these pens at a young age, there is a good chance she might have left the house more.

Women in literary history have refused to be caged by the conventions of what a woman should be, how she should act and what her place was in society. While I have only presented a few examples, we know that the list goes on: Mary Shelley, Flannery O’Connor, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Gertrude Stein …

The point is, why should we stick to the feminine convention of “the pink pen” so to speak? What if our literary females had? What if they had done what society thought was expected of a woman at the time? Or what if their literary heroines had? No one wants to read about a conventional Elizabeth Bennett. It’s her unconventional-ness that makes her one of the most beloved female characters of western literature.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to conform to the conventions of womanhood. If pink is your thing and you’ve been known to exclaim “Oh my stars. I’m just a little lady! My fragile constitution cannot handle the fearsome outdoors,” embrace it. Who am I to stop you? But if that’s not your thing, don’t let it make you feel like you are any less “feminine” than your potentially pink-loving counterpart.

It’s not a bad thing if you aren’t a conventional “pretty-in-pink” girly-girl. Look at some of the great literary heroines of our time, they aren’t; so it looks like you’re in pretty good company, thus far. “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” said Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Keep that in mind.

I guess what really sums up all that I’m trying to say is, Bic (and other companies before you – you’re not the first, and I’m sure you won’t be the last), there isn’t one sole definition of what is or isn’t feminine, and it certainly isn’t a color; so please, stop putting us in a box.