Summary: This hilarious and poignant commentary by comedian Ellen DeGeneres is perfect when introducing—and critiquing—the social construction of gender in an Introduction to Sociology or Contemporary Social Problems course. The clip shows Degeneres comically critiquing Bic’s production of a pen "designed especially for women," made in pink and purple to “fit a woman’s hand.” There are many great lines in her shtick, including this one chocked full of sarcastic analysis: “I was reading the back of the package, well, I had a man read the back of the package to me, and it said it’s designed to fit a woman’s hand…What does that mean? So that when we’re taking down dictation from our bosses we’ll feel comfortable and we’ll forget we’re not getting paid as much?…Just think over the last 20 years, companies have made millions of dollars for pills that grow men’s hair and fix men’s sex lives, and now ladies have a pen. We’ve come a long way baby!” This clip offers multiple ways to facilitate a discussion about sexism and the social construction of gender. For example, Degeneres draws attention to gender and socialized color preferences, the higher cost of women’s products and services compared to men’s, occupational sex segregation and wage inequality, gender stereotypes (e.g., grocery shopping, cooking, mood swings, etc.), and gendered investments in research for “life improvements” (e.g., products for sexual satisfaction and hair growth). One way to initiate conversation is to ask students: What makes Degeneres's characterization of these subjects humorous?
Submitted By: Beverly M. Pratt