Part of my job is to go onto Kickstarter to see if there are any that our company would be interested in backing. Most of the time I find things I am interested in rather than the company, which is bad for my wallet but good for Kickstarter I guess. I’ve backed some comics and art books, as well as some super cute Nutella stickers. I’m pretty easily amused when it comes to these things.
While looking through the newest kickstarters I always tend to check out the stationery-related projects. Show me a new type of daily planner or a notebook made from rocks or a hand made wooden pen and I will have to put my self-control to the test and stop myself from backing it. I have enough notebooks that need to be used that I don’t need another one just because it looks pretty. Well I mean, I backed the one made from rocks, but that is more out of curiosity than because it’s pretty, because how do you make paper out of rocks?! Madness!
But then I found this project that made me really quite annoyed. BüroMan is a notebook. But it’s not just any notebook, it’s “The Ultimate Men’s Notebook”. Because apparently all the other notebooks that are out in the world and available for people to buy aren’t manly enough, so this needed to be made. As far as I can tell, the only thing that really makes this any different to the other multitudes of notebooks out there is that it has a cork cover. Because “nothing says ‘manly notebook’ quite like cork fabric!”
Now it looks like a good quality notebook, and I’m a big fan of the dot graph print that it uses. The paper quality looks good, and I do like the look of the cork covers. It’s something that I would have backed, especially seeing it’s an Australian project. But instead I get misogynistic bullshit shoved down my throat because this isn’t for me! this is a Man’s Notebook! No Girls Allowed! Go sit over there with your Girl Notebooks and Girl Pens and let the poor hard done by Men have something for themselves for once!
The blog on the BuroMan website has this choice quote:
“Stationery is not a typical men’s product. Go to any stationery shop and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a notebook that isn’t bedazzled with hearts or pink polka dots. Don’t even bother asking for a men’s version of the notebook, you’ll simply be greeted with a blank stare and a look that questions your masculinity. If you manage to persist through this awkward encounter, you’ll probably be directed to a plain-black-overpriced-yet-undervalue notebook, as if that’s the solution to your manly stationery needs.”
You’re probably getting a blank stare and confused looks because there is no such thing as a ‘men’s version’ of a notebook, because gender has literally no affect on stationery. A notebook with flowers and glitter on the cover is exactly the same as one with monster trucks. It is pieces of paper and a cover bound together for you to write or draw in. That’s it.
Are you worried that using a pink notebook will make you not a man? Does that mean I shouldn’t be using my plain black notebooks because that’s not girly enough? How do you think that makes the people who do like pink sparkly notebooks feel? Are you saying that they are less of a man than you because they like shiny things or items that are particular colours? Where do we draw the line; is something that is silver ok, it’s just the glitter that is the problem? Are animals manly enough, or do they fall under the girly category? Are movie or comic book themed notebooks fair for both genders, or am I not allowed to use those?
Why do some people feel like they need to have designated Man Things to prove they are a Man? Are you that scared that someone might think you are not 100% completely heterosexual if you don’t use Man Branded things? You realise that most of these things are exactly the same as the ‘Women’s’ version, except the Men’s version is normally cheaper, right? The candles that smell like whiskey or bacon or leather are still scented candles; chapstick For Men is still chapstick; women’s shampoo and conditioner still clean men’s hair just the same; this Manly Notebook (Rawr, so tuff) is just a notebook. Stop caring what other people think about you and just use whatever product you want. If you like how a notebook feels when you use it then what does it matter what is on the cover? What’s inside is the important part! If it’s not hurting anyone then why do people care so much about what other people like or use?
Gendered items are generally bullshit, I agree with this wholeheartedly. But the way to change this is not do add more, different gendered items, it’s to stop trying to convince people to think and act a certain way just because they are a certain gender. Accept that there are men out there that would love to use a notebook covered with pink hearts, just like there are women who use tools (and don’t need ones that are covered in flowers). Breaking down these stereotypes benefits everyone, so why aren’t we doing this already?