The Great Pen Debacle

By Dana Riggs, Regular ContributorAugust 19, 2015

On August 9th every year, we celebrate women around the world with the holiday, International Women’s Day. And over recent years, it’s become a trend on social media and has been growing rapidly. Most of the time, the responses are impressive, inspiring, and wonderful.

But then there’s the pen company, Bic, who decided this year that this caption would be a good idea:

“Look like a girl, Act like a lady, Think like a man, Work like a boss.” 


image via

Though I’m sure their intent was not malicious, responses to the posts were justifiably and overwhelming alarmed. The post was quickly taken down but not without significant backlash from consumers on their social media pages, specifically Twitter.

Bic quickly issued an apology stating, “We completely understand where we’ve gone wrong. This post should never have gone out.” Then continued to say, “The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again.” Though it sounds like they took their misstep seriously, the truth is, it shouldn’t have gone up in the first place.

So where was the fault with the photo? Why was it so grossly out of line, especially on International Women’s Day?

Because it just further showed that they have yet to learn their lesson. A similar issue arose after the “For Her” pens went on the market. These pens were apparently specifically designed for women and their “smaller hands.” I’m a writer, and I’ve never had a problem with the size of my pen, even with their smaller stature. In fact, the more ink the better.

Bic is unfortunately no stranger to this game, making this debacle even more concerning.

It not only contributes to the belief that women have to adhere to more and more expectations in order to be perfect and to be accepted in all aspects of their life. And the fact that we still need to “Act like a lady, Think like a man” is just plain gross. You would think the maker of generic brand pen would know to advertise, well, not so generically and play into old-fashioned norms.

Finally, all of these “you would thinks…” that we expect from large companies are just reminders that we have such a far way to go in terms of equality and realistic expectations. But we can also remember that even a few years ago, Bic would have never seen the error in their ways and replaced the image with an apology. So, yes, Bic should have known better. They should have learned the first time around, but maybe the third time’s the charm. And having an outcry like this should hopefully serve as a cautionary tale for other large companies that people take to social media like flies and honey. And that it’s more important than most people realize that women are a force not to be reckoned with. Unless you’re ready for a battle.

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About Dana

DANA_ZILLGITT_writer_bio_(1).jpgDana has her BA in International Affairs & Spanish as well as a mild obsession with rescue animals and all things caffeinated. She’s mastered the art of the selfie, fort building, and even the sass battle. Plus, she can quote 95% of Anchorman and Zoolander.


Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.


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