Five years on from Bic’s pastel-coloured “for her” biros revolutionising women’s ability to write with our tiny hands, the firm is empowering us once again with a special lady tool to help navigate the dangers of open flames.
Determined to persevere in the face of repeated criticism of pens “designed to fit comfortably in a woman's hand" and pricier pink “Lady” razors, Bic has given the humble gas lighter a fuchsia pink makeover with the “Miss Bic Flex”.
This bendy contraption allows us fire-fearing women to dabble with lighting up stuff – mostly candles – without burning our thumbs.
Twitter user JusteBro noticed the Miss Bic Flex on shelves alongside Bic’s standard – and cheaper – blue Bic lighters.
“Finally my fragile female hand will be able to light a candle too!” she wrote in a tweet loaded with sarcasm and displaying a Feminism hashtag.
While the blue lighter packet clearly shows it as a multi-purpose tool designed for firing up barbecues, campfires and even cake candles, the curved gadget aimed squarely at women is decorated only with a picture of a decorative candle.
Yes, instead of using the blue lighter, or those long sticks, to do the job, Bic reckons we should be paying extra for a longer, curved wand to give our homes a cosy glow.
“Ideal for household use, lighting gas hobs, candles etc.” the product description says, words such as “safe, “easy”, “comfortable” and “trendy” thrown in for good measure.
Because trendy is an attribute we all crave of our firelighters, isn’t it?
JusteBro’s observation has been retweeted thousands of times and even caught the attention of outspoken Hollywood feminist Patricia Arquette, among others:
A spokesperson said Bic “never intended to upset anyone and we do regret any offence that may have been caused.”
The firm does, however, still sell standard Miss Bic lighters, featuring themes including “fashion dogs”, “couture” and a heck of a lot of flamingos.
It’s not the first time the 72-year-old French firm has been forced to pull back amid accusations of sexism. In 2010, before Bic for her, complaints led it to scrap a series of retro-themed advertisements in Canada that showed a traditional image of 1950s housewives in tiny shorts with captions such as “for legs that beckon”.
In 2015 it apologised for telling women to “think like a man” as part of an ad for International Women’s Day.