By Désirée Nothnagel
It maybe happens two times a year that I really feel like drinking a Coke. A couple of weeks ago, the thought of a cold and sparkly Coke led me to a shop and I was standing in front of the fridge staring at the offered bottles: Normal, Diet and Coke Zero. Usually, I tend to buy just the normal version, since two Cokes a year will not harm me. Nevertheless, I also bear a certain negative feeling towards the other two members of the Coke family. When I think of Diet Coke, I see pretty women in an office, perfect hair and shiny teeth, women all so incredibly feminine and flirty. They are thin because they said goodbye to the bad guy called sugar and possibly to all the rest of sinful nutrition. And then we have Coke Zero, which is just Diet Coke in a masculine outfit. Imagine Mr. Manly Man drinking Coke Zero, while he is casually walking away from a huge explosion, which underlines his masculinity.
While I was drinking my Coke I was wondering why the company did release a new version, dedicated to the taste of men. As I developed my thoughts I realized that the market is full of products, which are considered to be more feminine and then have been transformed into manly objects. There is the Lady Shaver in pink with magnolia extract and the five blade strong shaver for real men. There is the Diet Shake for women and the muscle producing super powder for Mr. Manly Man and his friends. The same pattern can be observed with facial creams, shower gels and shampoos. I remember the confusion among people I know when L’Oréal launched their first skincare line for men. A rough man-skin sometimes needs a little bit of love. Products, which are believed to be more feminine, are actually used by both, women and men.
However, to me it seems more commonly acknowledged when a woman is using more masculine deemed products or wearing more manly clothes than the other way around. The latter I could observe on the streets. Since autumn brought the warm clothes back to us, it already happened to me three times that I was walking behind a person, whose sex I could not identify. A tall girl or a thin boy? I believe that it is more socially acceptable for a woman to wear manly clothes, which hide her curves than for men to wear women’s clothes. But why is that actually? Paring men with femininity in our society is often seen as an offense. Whereas paring women with masculinity, such as wearing suit trousers or repairing a car is not really regarded as an insult. Is there something like a fear of the feminine? As a man you can be aggressive, abusive and loud, but don’t you dare to wear makeup or listen to Taylor Swift.
Moreover, in many educated and developed societies very feminine women are looked down upon. They are regarded as either being suppressed, not assertive enough, or as a woman who internalizes sexism. However, the real problem is not femininity but that people expect that women and men behave, dress and look a specific way. In addition, things being perceived as feminine are only for women and often regarded as something less valuable as masculine things. I always thought it was quite sad that women, who want to show critique to oppressing gender roles often are expected to push away their feminine side and to be something, which is regarded as strong. Moreover it is sad as well that many boys are denied to express their feelings in public, since it seems to be too feminine. Feelings are for everybody. The fear of femininity and the striving to hyper masculinity will not help anyone. Since we all find ourselves in a certain gender role and it is not easy to just break open the shell of expectations, we can still try to welcome our feminine side a little bit more without being afraid of it. Therefore, disregarding the discussions about aspartame, next time I might chose a Diet Coke just out of principle.