By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer
A controversy has recently sprung up over the potential development of a new kind of Dorito chip meant for women. There are a few facets of this which are important.
First, is this true? PepsiCo, who owna the company that makes Doritos, claims that “the reporting of a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate.”
The Washington Post seems to discredit the rumor by stating that it was spread by The Sun, a tabloid not known for their journalistic integrity. However, there might have been a good amount of truth in this rumor.
What The Sun spread was based on comments from PepsiCo’s C.E.O., Indra Nooyi on the Freakonomics podcast, “’Are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?’ And yes, we are looking at it, and we’re getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon.”
Can there be any doubt that this sounds like “lady Doritos”?
The company reacted to the strong negative backlash and released a statement that says, “We already have Doritos for women — they’re called Doritos, and they’re loved by millions.”
It appears there really might have been a plan to develop Doritos targeted at women, which has now been abandoned. This is troubling.
Nooyi seemed to acknowledge gender normative expectations of how and what women eat. In the interview, she described potentially making Doritos less crunchy and less messy. This fits exactly with stereotypes of how women should act in order to be “lady-like” – pretty but quiet.
Women are not more intrinsically quiet or clean than men. This is a product of the gender identities pushed on us since birth.
Nooyi, and theoretically everyone else involved in the decision, decided that they should exploit this to sell more corn chips. This is a problem because appealing to stereotypes enforces them.
If PepsiCo markets products based on the idea that women should (or want to) be quiet and less messy than men, then it is likely to influence the people who see those products to think that to be normal.
You don’t even have to buy the product to be affected by it.
It may not seem like that big of a deal – if one fails to consider stereotypes as oppressive.
When faced with expectations based on a category you fall into, it can be hard to break the mold.
This is not a new phenomenon. Businesses market to different groups of people all the time. For instance, Subaru successfully oriented their commercials towards lesbians during the 1990s.
This is not a phenomenon that targets only women, either. Men are also bombarded by products that tell them what is masculine and what is not. We are all told what is for young people and for old people.
This is a symptom of the extensive influence corporations and consumerism have in everyday life. They attempt to change what you desire and for what you aspire in order to make you more likely to give them your cash.
While they may have backed down this time, corporations like PepsiCo will never take responsibility for their roles in our lives, for continuing to divide people for their own profit, for manipulating our identities. After all, it’s just marketing, right?