There's a ton of stuff out there made "just for women" that are exactly the same as the men's version — only colored pink and marked up in price. (I'm looking at you, razor companies!) It's especially bizarre since women make 80 cents to a man's $1 — so logically, shouldn't women-specific products be cheaper?
Not only are equivalent products more costly than the men's version, women have to deal with societal expectations. Women who don't wear makeup are judged, and as I pointed out in this article about going makeup- and hairdo-free, women who choose the au natural route are considered less professional. It's so ubiquitous, it even has a marketing moniker: "pink pricing."
Meanwhile the default route for men includes fewer clothes, less grooming, and fewer personal care products to maintain acceptability. Even shaving — the one place where men's time and product needs outstrip women's — isn't that necessary any more, since guys can now rock a beard in most work settings.
But there are some products for women that are sex-specific — and also useful.
Take a guitar, for example
The "boob-friendly" electric guitar by Ernie Ball in the video above was specially designed by musician Annie Clark, known more widely as St. Vincent. Clark worked with the team at the guitar maker for one of the company's "Music Man" specialty instruments, and as you can see in the main image for this story, it lays on the body in such a way as to not cut across they player's breast, making it more comfortable for a woman. It's also smaller and lighter. Of course, anyone can play this guitar.
"I hope … that men and women will enjoy the ergonomics. But smaller people and women especially," Clark said.
A women's specific guitar isn't necessary, of course — plenty of women play standard unisex guitars. But the existence of this particular guitar shows that not all "gear for women" has to be pink or princess-y, and some of it might actually serve a real purpose.
It makes a difference for snowboards, too
While plenty of snowboarding gear for women traffics in gender stereotypes, as this article on WhiteLines so thoroughly points out, some of the design innovations are useful. The ones that were initiated by women, for women, for better performance (like sidecuts) can be helpful. A good snowboarder can ride pretty much any board, but for the best time on the mountain, getting a board that suits the terrain you spend the most time in — and possibly your size and shape — can be worth the investment. I've ridden women-specific boards for years now (NeverSummer, Arbor and Ride make my favorites), and while I was initially skeptical, I found that the small changes in a women's board made a difference for me, allowing easier, faster turns.
And smaller men, or just guys who want to experiment with variety, might like these boards better too. Sean Genovese, co-owner of Dinosaurs Will Die snowboards, told SnowBunny magazine, “we don’t necessarily market our boards to men or women. I know that women sometimes need a narrower, lightweight board, which is why we have The Brat, our light-rider board. We could call it a young men’s board or a women’s board, but by calling it a light-rider board, it opens up the market to more types of riders.”
And for long-haul backpacks
I haven't had the same positive experience with women's mountain bikes (I prefer "men's" bikes), but another area where the women-specific concept has served me well is long-haul backpacks. I used unisex exterior frame and interior-frame packs for my longest hikes (12 days in the Rockies and a few four- and five-night trips in Vermont) before I tried a pack designed for women. Like the items above, the fact that a backpack is "made for women" is mostly about a few degrees of extra comfort. But when you're carrying all your gear on your back, that extra comfort might be worth it.
My Mountainsmith women's pack has better adjustments for shoulder and waist, and a better weight distribution for my specific proportions, which partially has to do with the fact that I'm woman-shaped. I'm not petite (5 foot 6 inches) and also strong for my size, so I don't need to carry less weight than the men I walk with, but I have a short waist for my height, meaning that it was impossible to adjust my straps perfectly with a unisex pack. I have the shoulder-to-waist ratio of a much-shorter woman — someone who's around 5 foot 2. So, even though I'm not as petite as a small woman, I need to adjust my pack like one. And it's genuinely useful, I'm sure, for smaller women to find more size-appropriate packs these days.
I'm rarely sold on unisex items that are remade just for the ladies, but in some cases, it's good to have more options, and some of them might also benefit different-sized or -shaped men. After all, men aren't all the same either!