Needlessly Gendered Products: Laxatives

Something I am fascinated by is the products we buy that are needlessly gendered (and for which women almost always pay more). So I am going to start a semi-regular, ongoing series examining the marketing and reasoning behind needlessly gendered products as I come across them in daily life.

Today’s entry is Duculax. I saw an ad that advertised Dulcolax and, now introducing, Dulcolax for Women with the always charming implication that regular (default, normal) Dulcolax is for men (who are, similarly, regular, default, normal) while us delicate flowers need our own Dulcolax. It even comes in a pink box!

product_image product_laxative_tablets_for_women_lg_new

                                                                         And I was so curious. What is it about our delicate constitutions that requires a specially formulated laxative? Is that our insides only like pink things? (That’s probably it.) So I did a very small amount of googling and found this informative blurb from the makers of Dulcolax:

Constipation affects women more often than men1. That’s why the makers of Dulcolax® have brought you Dulcolax® Pink Laxative Tablets for women.

Huh. Okay. So constipation affects more women than men. That’s in line with the overall greater preponderance of GI issues in women than in men. But is our constipation inherently different? Is that why we need a special formulation? So I looked at the ingredients lists. Huh. Same active ingredient, same amount. So I guess our constipation isn’t really that different. Wanting to know what they said about it, I looked at the FAQs and found this gem:

What is the difference between Dulcolax® Pink Laxative Tablets and Dulcolax® Laxative Tablets?

Dulcolax® Pink Laxative Tablets is formulated differently than Dulcolax® Laxative Tablets to the extent that their inactive ingredients are different. Dulcolax® Pink Laxative Tablets still contains the same efficacious, active ingredient bisacodyl, at the same strength as Dulcolax® Laxative Tablets.
Which made me laugh for about two straight minutes. Let’s break this down, Dulcolax Pink is formulated differently than Dulcolax–well, I’d hope so. Otherwise this is a weird, pandering, moneymaking scheme based in gender essentialist bullshit–to the extent that their inactive ingredients are different–oooh. Okay. So…this is a weird, pandering, moneymaking scheme based in gender essentialist bullshit. Because the active ingredient (bisacodyl) is the same. It’s the inactive ingredients, which account for bulk and colour, that are different. Basically, Dulcolax is gonna make you poop either way, but us sensitive ladies now have the option of pooping in style!
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7 thoughts on “Needlessly Gendered Products: Laxatives

  1. Augh! This drives me crazy! In the most pathetic effort possible to attract women to the trades, hardware stores started carrying hot pink hard hats, tools, carpenter pouches. I couldn’t list a single woman I know in the trades that would buy into any of this, let alone it was all poorer quality- why put any effort into something no one is going to use? The guys I worked with joked about buying me the stuff- the joke being they knew I would hate it. It was already hard enough being a woman on a commercial construction site, the last thing I needed was a big fucking pink beacon saying ‘Hey guys: woman carpenter over here!’

    1. I just wanted to say Next time do More research! The difference is the pink coating is a comfort coating, so we don’t have severe cramping like when using the regular dulcolax

      1. If you look at the bottom right of each picture you’ll see they both say “Comfort coated tablets” and if you look at the copy on the webpage for each you’ll see this nigh-identical sentence:

        1. Dulcolax® For Women Tablets have the special coating ensuring that the active ingredient is released right where it’s needed. The coating resists the acidic digestive juices of the stomach and small intestine.
        2. Dulcolax® Tablets have the special coating ensuring that the active ingredient is released right where it’s needed. The coating resists the acidic digestive juices of the stomach and small intestine.

  2. Reblogged this on Joan's Journal and commented:
    I was looking at laxatives today (ok the secret is out) and I noticed Dulcolax for women. Reading the ingredients label I couldn’t find any difference between the green box I have been using and the pink box. When I Googled the difference I found this wonderful article that I wanted to share with you. I’m just so tired of gender based marketing. If we want the wage gap to shrink, or disappear, we’ve got to stop marketing to men and women, boys and girls, differently. I’m sure there are plenty of little girls who would love to play with toy trucks, and not pink ones. And yes, maybe even men could use a Kotex every once in a while for leakage problems.

  3. I was so pleased to read this article. It is the only reaserch I found on the subject regarding the difference between dulcolax and dulcolax pink. The only positive outcome is that you get 25 pills for the same price as 10 of the regular dulcolax pills. So this leads me to think humm….who’s the joke on now?

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