March is designated as Women’s History Month in the USA, the UK, and Australia, a month set aside to commemorate the contributions of women in history and society. In honor of that, I elected to take up the study of gendered fountain pens produced by Pelikan over the last century, specifically their fountain pens and pen modifications made especially for women. Gendered products, just as the name implies, are those items or services marketed specifically towards a particular sex. Goods such as these have been around for a long time, and many have a controversial history owing to the promotion of unhealthy and often false gender stereotypes. There are a multitude of products which fall into this category, many of which are quite laughable. The distinction between male and female targeted products frequently consists of nothing more than a pink color and some slightly altered packaging with the word “Lady” prominently displayed. Marketing departments pursue these gendered products in an effort to enhance their appeal, thereby broadening the pool of potential consumers. This pursuit frequently results in the distorted portrayal of women as weaker, more delicate, and in need of special care while at the same time promoting toxic masculinity. Many cultures still frown upon men enjoying anything of a pink persuasion because of the femininity associated with it. In addition to various shades of pink and pastel, items targeted towards women tend to be smaller in size to better fit the stereotype of the more diminutive female. Many of the historical boundaries surrounding gender roles in society are being tested and debated today, a debate that is well beyond the scope of this blog. What is on brand for this blog is just how Pelikan has fed into and perpetuated some of these societal constructs with their writing implements over their 94 years in the industry. Pelikan’s gendered writing instruments can be found as far back as the original model 100 from the 1930s but there have been more recent examples as well. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that such products have persisted well into the 21st century. Pelikan’s catalogs from the 1930s through the 1950s list products that could be altered for use by a woman, labeled as “Damenhalter” or “Für die Dame” but, make no mistake, this is not a Pelikan specific phenomenon. Other pen companies, both past and present, have done the same including Sheaffer, Soennecken, Parker, and Montblanc. Believe it or not, even the ubiquitous Bic Cristal has not been spared. Read on to learn about just a few select examples of products from Pelikan’s back catalog that have been geared towards women.Continue reading
Tag Archives: M600 Pink
No White After Labor Day: How The M6xx Makes That A Hard Rule To Abide
I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to say that, at least in the United States, most people have heard the old saying about wearing white after labor day. It has been a big no-no in fashion circles since sometime around the early to mid-twentieth century. Nobody knows for sure how this piece of fashion etiquette came about let alone became ingrained into the mainstream collective. One practical theory contends that, since people used to dress more formally, white was simply cooler in the summer months. When the fall rains came, the color became impractical as it soiled easily with mud and debris. While this theory sounds logical, that in and of itself may be why many scholars discount it. The rules of fashion seldom seem to follow any logic. A more salacious and compelling explanation may lie in the habits of America’s well to do who frequently escaped the doldrums of the city in the summer months. That escape included leaving behind the more drab palette of the city which included opting for lighter clothing instead. White linen suits became the unofficial uniform of the upper crust of society. Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September, has long marked the unofficial end of summer and was when the elite class would stow their whites and return to city life. By mid-century, a clash between old money and new money was brewing as the middle class expanded and people became more upwardly mobile. Old money elites looking to keep their social fabric from fraying would shun those not in the know. Arbitrary rules, including not wearing white after Labor Day, allowed high society to protect their standing and identify the less savvy newer members of the upper class. Whichever reasoning you may ascribe to, this old “rule” has largely fallen out of favor and many fashion icons have shown that white can indeed be worn year round. That is a darn good thing too because Pelikan has graced the M6xx line with more white pens in recent history than ever before and I for one would hate to have to lock them away for half of the year due to some fashion snobbery. Read on for a look at how Pelikan has made white pens chic again.