A group of business school friends is trying to raise funds to launch a line of rompers for men called “RompHim” — and, according to a piece in the Huffington Post, its marketing campaign is very problematic.
According to Claire Fallon, it’s a sign of “male fragility” that men would even need a so-called male romper to be on the market in order to have the courage to start wearing rompers.
See, to Fallon, the “RompHim” is just another example of what she sees as an incredibly offensive marketing trend: the rebranding of traditionally “feminine” products to make them appeal to men:
Candles, yogurt, rosé, and now rompers: Our capitalistic marketplace overflows with desirable, fun products that suffer from their association with women. Fortunately, businesses have found a way to market their goods to both women and men: bro branding. (”Bronding”?)
We’ve had mandles, brogurt, brosé, and now the latest example, the RompHim™, a short jumpsuit for men. The RompHim launched via Kickstarter this week and quickly drew derision from Twitter wits. Men in rompers! Imagine!
Basically, Fallon’s idea is that women have no problem adapting clothing styles that have traditionally been male-oriented, but men need feminine clothing styles and products to be specifically declared masculine in order to feel empowered to wear them.
Okay. First of all, the “RompHim” is not an example of the exact same product that women use being marketed to men. See — and I hate to burst your bubble here if this is something you didn’t know — but there are actually some, um, differences between people who are biologically male and people who are biologically female, and the design of the RompHim takes that into account. Unlike the rompers that women wear, the RompHim has a zipper fly: “While our female friends love their rompers, the biggest complaint we heard from them was the whole ‘getting fully undressed to go pee’ thing,” the RompHim’s Kickstarter page explains. “Luckily, this sturdy metal zipper simplifies that process for guys.”
But even aside from all of that, I just have to say that I don’t think I’d ever find myself feeling, as Fallon does, “infuriated” by the idea of a marketing campaign that’s directed at a specific target audience. Yes, there are a lot of people out there who live outside of gender norms, and that’s completely fine and wonderful. We’re all individuals, and we should be able to like and wear whatever we individually want to like and wear. But the truth is, “People Who Are Biologically Male, Who Also Identify As Being Of The Male Gender, Who Tend To Enjoy Traditionally Masculine Things” is still a pretty big demographic, and advertisers would be stupid not to market things to them. Do they play off of stereotypes? Sure! But like it or not, working off of stereotypes of specific demographics is exactly what advertising and marketing is all about.
— Katherine Timpf is a National Review Online reporter.