Friday, February 24, 2012

Female fandom: Another lesson in heterosexism

I, as the perceived target audience (women), received a brief questionnaire about my thoughts on sports memorabilia from a representative of a company that sells such memorabilia. OK. Fine. I understand a company's need to better understand its target demographic. I generally appreciate efforts to include and understand women as consumers of sports-related products and services.
But then I realized rather quickly that the survey wasn't meant for me.
Question one was fine:

Would you purchase sports memorabilia (autographed jerseys, sporting goods, photos etc.) for yourself? If so, what type(s) would you purchase?
Probably not. Not my kind of thing. Though I am currently carrying a vanilla chapstick with Gretchen Bleiler's name on it.

Would you want to receive sports memorabilia as a gift from the man/men in your life?
Wait, what man? My dad? Because I'm a dyke so he's pretty much "the man" in my life. Oh, this survey is for straight women.
While "men" seems to suggest that there is an awareness that men other than significant others can buy women stuff, this remains an odd question. Are they planning on marketing to uncles or male cousins? And, of course, the obvious interpretation of "man in your life" is a male partner or husband. There are plenty of heterosexual women who like sports. There are also plenty of lesbians and queer women who like sports. And they are rarely marketed to. This seems to be another example of that. There is a presumption of heterosexuality, which continues the trend of conveniently forgetting that gay women are sports fans.
And why do the men have to buy the women stuff anyway? Even if I was a heterosexual, why couldn't my sister or mother buy me sports memorabilia? (Dear Family: I will let you know if I suddenly want some sports memorabilia.)

And now, for kicks and giggles--the rest of the questions.
Is there sports memorabilia that you would like to see offered that is not available?
 I don't think so. What might I want that is not currently available that could become available? I'm not sure I understand the question. Maybe a bottle of wine from Amelie Mauresmo's collection? But I don't think she's going to relinquish that.

How could sports memorabilia be marketed better to female consumers?
Maybe you could make everything pink! Or put a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon on it. That seems to fool a lot of people. 

1 comment:

sportsbabel said...

"There are also plenty of lesbians and queer women who like sports. And they are rarely marketed to."

While I can appreciate the concern of heteronormativity that animates this comment, allow me to play devil's advocate for a second:

Why, exactly, would you WANT to be marketed to? Have you been having trouble finding things to buy?

Markeeting these days is about the ubiquitous quantification of the "consumer" into discrete market "segments" that can be optimized with omnipresent "customer relationship management" and "predictive behavioural analytics"?

Shall I go on?

"Wanting to be marketed to" as some sacred pinnacle of identity politics seems at best short-sighted and at worst an apologia for neoliberal capitalism at its internetworked worst.

Now, again, I see the toxic problem you're trying to highlight here, but beware the cure. Maybe you still have room for movement that the heteronormatives do not.