These creations, designed to police women’s behavior or help them police themselves, came from woman-run companies. Call it unconscious bias, call it internalized misogyny, call it whatever you want, but women — half of people — have been treated as outliers for so long that we’ve never properly studied their needs and lost sight of what a coherent market for women’s products should look like. That’s how we get Lady Doritos when we just need clothes with pockets.
The common theme is an assumption that fixing one small manifestation of sexism will somehow improve the structural factors working against women. Forget paid leave, equal pay, reproductive rights. Instead of thinking big, women are led to obsess about details. Women aren’t allowed to finish sentences, so let’s give them a way to see in real time how often they never get to express a full idea. Women must apologize to avoid appearing domineering, so let’s give them a way to remove apologetic phrasing instead of, say, asking others to change their sexist perceptions of women’s speech. (Why not create an extension that changes the condescending “actually” to “I hear what you’re saying” when responding to women?) Instead of encouraging women to confidently inhabit the space they’re in, make themselves heard — and, good grief, enjoy a few handfuls of nacho cheese-flavored deliciousness — give them silent food to help them pretend to be invisible and ashamed to snack for pleasure.