If you’ve ever graced the aisles of a Toys ‘R’ Us or Duane Reade, then you know that the relentless pressure of gendered normativity is alive and well. Pink and purple products ranging from pens, earplugs, and Barbie dolls wrangle for female attention next to the more subdued, often blue or grey, products geared toward male shoppers.  The next frontier of gendered products has now appeared in an unlikely place: a hot pink pepper spray gun.

Mace Security International, Inc. manufactures a variety of security products, including electronic surveillance devices, home protection, and personal defense devices, like the aforementioned pepper spray. Its description of this product, and the two others in the traditionally feminine hue, includes this statement: “Pink just got hotter! [These] sprays come in a wide variety of models for those who prefer to carry their choice of personal defense in stylish pink.”

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Of course, everyone is entitled to their color preferences, and if you live or die by shades of pink, then absolutely, you do you. What is worrisome is the continual outdated use of a strategic marketing technique to attract female consumers, especially for a product that is generally thought of as a woman’s best method of personal protection. It is extremely likely that a pepper spray in any shade other than pink would not deter a woman choosing to purchase such an item, and the company’s blatant campaign to sell those specific models to women is belittling.

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The site does mention that these products support Mace Cares, a charitable program that sponsors the National Center for Victims of Crime, among others, and that donations are made in October to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness month. The pink ribbon is almost synonymous with the awareness campaign, but it and the color have become, as the Washington Post reported, part of a “pinkwashing” that does little to aid patients or survivors.  

Advertisers and the companies they work for need to move into the 21st century and realize that people of any gender identity can and will purchase items regardless of their perceived social context or colored packaging.  Sometimes women need hammers and full calorie beer as much as men need cupcake trays or little boys want a Barbie doll. And if, unfortunately, anyone needs to utilize pepper spray to protect him or herself against an attack, the color of the can will do little to discourage its usage. 

image c/o: missomnimedia 

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