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Gendering of Products for Mass Market Consumption

Both males and females regularly shave. Cell phones are ubiquitous and their use cuts across all divisions created by demographic variables, including gender. Unlike the Barbie dolls and Action Man figures discussed by Attfield (1996), the razors and cell phones are functional and are gendered only by means of additions to a basic design.

In essence, therefore, the gender-neutral razor and cell phone become gendered products by the addition of characteristics, functions, or attributes that have nothing to do with the products and their function. A Fusion or Venus razor can be used interchangeably by a man or woman and achieve pretty much the same results - shaved legs, armpits, or face. The shave that a woman receives from the Fusion is likely to be just as good as the one received from the Venus regardless of what type of advertising rhetoric is used to convince women to buy the Venus.

What we have here is what Partington (1996) refers to as a new intertextuality in which a design aesthetic or style is appropriated. The same comments can be made regarding the Rolex watches that appear in the Appendix. At its most basic, a watch is little more than a functional object designed to serve the basic purpose of tracking time or, in some instances, provide other functions similar to those of a calendar or a chronograph. However, as Boydell (1996) suggests, watches, like training shoes, come in all different price categories and styles and Rolex is one of the most readily recognized premier brands in the world of watches. Whether designed for men or women, Rolex watches emphasize quality, durability, style/design, and performance.

At the same time, when one compares the image of the gold and diamond encrusted ladies' watch in the image series to the larger and less heavily ornamented men's watches it becomes clear that gendered design is at work. Rolex does in fact make 18 carat gold or platinum jewel encrusted watche...

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