How One Book Changed my Appreciation of Women

I once read a post on Return Of Kings about a Dutch reality TV show called Expeditie Robinson. The show was about a survival competition between men and women, where the contestants would be separated by gender and stranded on different islands. What ensued was a powerful social experiment about the societal implications of an all men or all women civilization.

From the video clips I watched, the men fared better than the women.

After local hierarchies were in place, every man decided to specialize in a certain task of his choosing. Some fished, while others built carpentry like benches, tables, and huts. They rationed out their supplies and found ways to properly weather the elements. Of course, they had their fair share of group-dynamic struggles, but they resolved the issues quickly, bound by the shared threat of survival. Soon a little civilization began to form, progressing steadily as new assets were added daily.

The women could never do anything independently without the consensus of the whole group.

The females ran into trouble right from the start. They would argue and bicker about who would do what, unable to divide tasks among the group of twelve. The only thing they agreed on was that the water and weather were perfect for sunbathing. Ravaged by sand flies and drenched by tropical storms, the females were miserable. They barely had anything resembling a civilization.

Eventually, the show hosts decided to switch things up to help the female team.

Three females were taken and placed on the male team, while three men went over to the female island. The chosen men were very happy to go over initially, but quickly realized they will be working hard every day to build shelter, infrastructure, and hunt for food for the ill prepared female team. The three women on the other hand, enjoyed plentiful food, shelter, and male attention while sunbathing in the crystal clear waters at the male camp.

This show, alongside some anecdotal experiences, convinced me to take on a view that men are more important to society and the economy than women. Men are the builders and maintainers, while women are just along for the ride, enjoying the fruits of male labor.

This idealistic, pro-masculine view turned out to be naive at best and ignorant at worst. Women are the predominate drivers of economies.

So, what changed my perspective?

A powerful book called Why She Buys by Bridget Brennan.

Brennan masterfully eroded all my preconceived notions about a woman’s contributions to the economy and society. I slowly began to realized that our economy is desperately dependent on women in order to stay healthy.

This well-spoken female author hammered into my brain that women are the primary consumers and purchasers of all products, even in traditionally “male” industries like electronics and cars. She revealed to me that as more and more women the world over secure the same economic purchasing power as men, they will continue to drive incredible economic growth for both industrialized and emerging economies.

Why?

If women didn’t exist in our society, our economy would stagnate due to a lack of buyers and spenders. Money wouldn’t circulate and businesses would flop. Women, from all walks of life and ages, buy products from every industry at a significantly higher rate than men. Don’t believe me?

  • Mothers are the primary decision makers regarding all purchases for their husbands, kids, parents, and (last but not least) herself. Rarely does the man in the family make a purchase 100% by himself.
  • As more women delay the age at which they marry, they spend more money on themselves compared to previous decades. With their well-earned paychecks, more single women than ever can afford luxury items, cars, and homes.
  • Middle aged women, fresh out of a divorce, have a new chance to purchase items that revitalize herself and her new life in a positive way, rather than previously focusing on her family’s needs above her own. Divorce also means two beds, two sets of furniture, two PlayStations…
  • While women have fewer kids, the money spent on daycare, products, and services for their kids continues to skyrocket.
  • Older women may be over fifty, but they still feel youthful on the inside. This wealthy older market is underrepresented in today’s media obsession with thin models, but they are always happy to spend money that makes them feel good, young, and free to be themselves.

It doesn’t matter if the women is a young teen, single mother, or an older women, she out paces men in consuming and spending. She makes businesses in almost every industry thrive through her participation in the economy.

And women are actively participating more and more in the economy. They’ve been outpacing men in bachelor degrees since the 1980s and have been earning salaries completely on their own as professionals, without the help of men. All this extra and dispensable cash is spent on her and the people she cares about. Gifts for friends, celebrations, “girlfriend getaways,” her kids, the hubbie… you name it, a women somewhere is spending it.

What shocked Brennan, however, was the fact that almost every marketer and sales executive was male.

The very people that make the ad campaigns, who have the final say in the marketing of products, are men who don’t actively understand that women are the main consumers OR how to market effectively towards them; They’re clouded by a male bias. This is the driving reason Bridget Brennan decided to write Why She Buys, so that men can better understand how to effectively market towards women.

As a copywriter and marketer, this resonated with me deeply.

I had completely overlooked the paramount effects a women’s attention to detail would have on any product I decided to market. Some of my copy was aggressive and masculine, scaring off women who are more likely to be potential customers than men I *thought* I should be targeting. It was revolutionary breakthrough to finally comprehend the power that women will have on my sales and a humbling experience to admit I had wrongly distrusted a women’s role in the economy.

Men might build the infrastructure of society, but women keep the economy humming along for everyone.

Women with big pockets are here to stay, and will continue driving the economy, upholding the sacred duties of motherhood, and defying any form of oppression in their lives. We male marketers are heavily inclined to adapt to the changing tides:

Companies that aren’t gender aware are leaving big, stinking piles of money on the table.

Thank you Bridget for the new perspective. I devoured your book in a day.

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