Amazon; A New Fangled Company With Old Fashioned Marketing

[Update at end]

I don't shop on Amazon much (tax dodging assholes and all that), so what I read on The Kraken Wakes today was mildly shocking
Yep, you read it right, categories of gift ideas for him and for her. So far, so blah. So I only became deranged with fucksteria when I saw that the suggestions ‘for him’ included business books, comics and graphic novels, health and lifestyle, political biogs, science fictions books and sports calendars while the suggestions ‘for her’ included (steady yourself) animal calendars, contemporary fiction, craft books, baking books, celebrity biogs and, yes, romance books.**
I wasn't as shocked as The Kraken; I've sat through ad breaks, I've wept at the Boots "here come the girls" ads. I was pissed off enough to throw an email at Amazon though (for funsies). This is slightly harder than you'd expect. There is no "contact us" at the bottom of every page like any other self respecting website. Noooo, I had to hunt it down in the Help section.

While concocting my email (which included an apology to the unwitting employee that will have received an email from an angry feminist) I thought I had better poke around in those lists to see what the offerings were. This was the surprising bit; the contents of the lists were NOT what you would consider to be stereotypically "for him" or "for her".

At the very top of the "Health and Lifestyle" section of "For Him" is The Hairy Dieters. So okay, these guys and this book especially, are pretty neutral ground, but a little further down is The DIY Wedding Manual and Skinny Meals in Heels; not books that exactly bellow "butch" at you, are they? The Twilight graphic novel (and no I am NOT linking to it, thank you very much) appears on the "Comics and Graphic Novels" list and Wherever You Are: The Military Wives is in "Political Biographies".

The "For Her" section? Not quite as neutral, maybe but close. There are thrillers from the likes of John Grisham and Jo Nesbo and Clive Cussler in the "Contemporary Fiction" (as well as To Kill A Mockingbird... not sure how contemporary that is but; whatever). Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Young and Pete Townshend appear in the "Celebrity Biographies". Not very girlie reads, are they? Read and loved by women, for sure but not traditionally thought of as "feminine"?

If the contents of the lists bare little resemblance to an outmoded idea of gender and hobbies why then did Amazon deem it necessary to stick them into His and Hers categories? The whole concept is just ridiculous. These sorts of things are aimed at people buying for a niece three times removed or an uncle they see once a year. Don't know what to get that not-so-loved loved one? Here, let us help by giving you some ideas based on preconceptions about the mindset of someone that derived purely from the configuration of their reproductive organs! And just to confuse matters, we're NOT going to do that at all except on the initial landing page. Have fun!

My email was essentially; Amazon, you don't make sense and you have some old fashioned ideas about gender roles. Why?

My theory is that the marketing team came up with the Him and Her idea and, having overworked themselves on that masterpiece, couldn't be bothered to actually form any lists so just added links to Amazon's pre-existing categories that have nothing to do with gender at all.

I wonder what Amazon will say... The reply will probably be a standard form but I am hoping it'll land on someone with some initiative... and a sense of humour >_>

**"fucksteria" is absolutely my word of the week


After a whole host of hassle from people with actual influence and audiences, Amazon have altered their category suggestions on their For Him and For Her lists. It's not perfect (and I never did get a sufficient answer to my questions), but it's a small victory.

I'd like to see this stupid idea completely removed altogether. For now I think I will just have to hope that it won't be implemented next Christmas.

blog comments powered by Disqus