Kleenex is scrapping its ‘mansize’ tissue branding after a customer complained that it is sexist. The company has since changed the name of the tissues to ‘Extra Large’ following feedback from customers. Many people have taken to Twitter to question other instances of unnecessarily gendered products, like razors or stationery. Whilst some view the change Kleenex have made as a progressive step towards gender equality, I feel that these moral outrages are causing a negative impact on the way people view feminism.
Mainstream feminism has a major problem in prioritising the voices of cisgender, straight, white women over women of colour, LGBT+ women, and those with disabilities. This form of feminism now has a name: “white feminism”. By causing a stir about a non-issue, people are now focusing on gendered labelling instead of ones that are pressing matters, such as FGM or domestic violence. Since Kleenex announced it is scrapping the ‘mansize’ label, people have used this issue to interrogate the true intentions of modern feminists.
Kleenex branding a tissue as ‘mansize’ may seem ignorant, but it is ultimately, harmless.
This applies in the same way as the national outcry against plastic straws. Despite only compromising 0.025 percent of the eight million tons of plastic flow in the ocean, eradicating plastic straws became the major focus of recent environmental campaigns, which completely overlooked the many people with disabilities that rely on straws to drink independently. This outrage also has resulted in people ignoring that the major producers of plastic waste are large corporations, not straw users and suppliers.
Another example of this false outrage is the idea that transgender people are offended by the use of gendered words like ‘snowman’. The majority of transgender people have stated this is not an issue for them, yet people have used this to highlight how “sensitive” and “triggered” young people are. People have created this non-issue to make a mockery out of the transgender community and to fuel the hatred against them.
With people increasingly becoming politically aware, it is common knowledge that tissues do not need to have gendered packaging. Kleenex branding a tissue as ‘mansize’ may seem ignorant, but it is ultimately, harmless. Feminists that focus on rather insignificant issues like this are being branded as ‘hysterical’ and are perpetuating the negative stereotypes associated with being politically correct. Instead of pressuring companies to change gendered branding, more pressure should be placed on larger issues, such as companies that use child labour or do not pay their workers equal/fair wages, etc. It is important to concentrate on important issues first, otherwise we only aid neglect of the meaningful ones.
By Adina Rees