Let's be honest, car makers do have a nasty habit of marketing against their brand philosophies. None pisses me off more than the Honda Fit She's. A Honda "for women" women didn't want. I don't care if it was designed by a female Honda executive. It's still sexist as hell.
Yes, I know. This might seem like old news (after all, we've covered it on Jezebel). It lasted only two model years. I've seen exactly three in the years since it came out, and in that time I've lived in four prefectures: Fukuoka, Chiba, Gunma, and Saitama. Yet it's worth exploring why it was doomed to failure from the very beginning. When CNN reported on the She's, they identified the designer as Tomonari Eri, a female Honda executive. It's terribly unfortunate her design was dead on arrival.
Still, much respect to Ms. Tomonari, making it to such a high position in many countries as a woman is difficult. In Japan? So much harder than many other places—even with anti-discrimination laws on the books. You have to respect the level of dedication and work (and sacrifice, probably in terms of family) she put into Honda Motors for her to have a chance at leading a design project.
That's all well and good. I don't know what kind of pressure she was facing from her superiors to be the woman who "understands women" and "designs women stuff." Unfortunately, whether under direct pressure, or simply because of the pressure to conform to Japan's still rather stringent gender segregation, she apparently ignored a truth that Honda had already figured out about three decades ago:
There was a time when Honda promised us they "don't make a woman's car." A time when Honda looked at the burgeoning women's liberation movement, the seriousness with which feminist theory and women's studies were taken as true academic disciplines, and said, "hey, we have an idea, why don't we publicly recognise the idea of a 'woman's car' is stupid and that women are individuals who shop for cars based on individual circumstances just like men."
Wow, women are people (a radical notion some might know as "feminism"); what a fucking concept. So tell me, how is what you figured out in 1970-whatever suddenly completely gone in 2012 and 2013? Did you get ahold of a time machine that can only replace your oldest executives with 1960 versions of themselves?
Look, Honda, I know, things are hard in Japan right now. Car ownership is way down, especially because young people don't even want the damn things. You're trying desperately to figure out where to find new customer demographics. You know that today's Japanese women are more independent and have more disposable income than ever before in the island nation's history. More women are employed and employed for life, putting off or even totally eschewing husbands and children. And with recent government pushes to make women even more financially productive (and therefore taxpayers), this trend will only continue in the future.
It makes sense to consider women, but you don't need to offer us a product based on our eye shadow options. We might like the choice of pink, because some humans like pink, but it shouldn't be your signature color. And it shouldn't be splashed all over the interior like a five year old with a pink crayon was let loose in it without adequate supervision. All you need to do is give us options. Options are good! Yay, choice! You don't need to try to figure out what specific laundry list of pink tinted accents we need. It's bad enough when we're eight years old and in the toy aisle, now you're trying to do it to our big kid toys, too?!
Fuck that. You have women fans, Honda. Lots of them. I'm one of them. And Honda Style Magazine just did an excellent feature on some beautiful EG and EK hatches from right here in Japan. You want to know what women who buy Honda want in your products? How about you start here:
These are your loyal fans, not the "woman driver" you "interviewed" in the "behind the scenes" commercial commercial. No, that isn't an error, it's a commercial about a commercial. It's an ad where the She's marketing model explains why this particular car fits her, even though she's only had her license for a year, and she doesn't really know anything about cars.
Sheesh. Maddie was right, this entire concept does send the message Honda thinks we poor lady drivers are dumb. Yet, apparently we're too smart to buy a She's. Good for us, ladies.
Images via Honda