The XX Factor

More Fascinating Revelations About the Shopping Behavior of Men

Amanda, I think you’re treading on dangerous ground with your assertion that men actually aren’t all that different from women when it comes to buying food in a food store. As a man who shops for himself, I can assure you that if there weren’t a mission-driven, boldly lettered sign directing me to the “Experimental, Adventurous” part of the cereal aisle, I’d probably starve to death. But if my precarious personal experience doesn’t convince you of the serious reality of that bulwark of civilization, the “gender binary,” consider this further evidence from only-fittest-news-printer the New York Times:

“Women shop, men stockpile. That’s one theory, anyway, of how men buy clothes differently from women. If women see shopping as an opportunity, a social or even therapeutic activity, the thinking goes, then men see it as a necessary evil, a moment to restock the supply closet.”

You see, the only thing we men hate more than having to wear clothes at all is having to brave the “evils” of the mall to hunt them down. So when we discover an article that satisfies our utilitarian, no-frills requirements, we fill a big truck with crates of the thing so as to avoid shopping again within the next decade. And with our supply closets restocked, we return to more manly pursuits.

Seriously though, this style piece has to take the “oh, weird, the sexes are sooo different” cake. After that initial paragraph, the writer notes that while he doesn’t want to risk “perpetuating sex stereotypes” (as if that weren’t the raison d’être here), men are clearly “obsessed” with this mode of clothes acquisition. Of course, he provides no statistics, no comparative quotes from women, nor even any absurd marketing theories; instead, he opts for a series of brief anecdotes from men-about-town who have fascinatingly managed to identify a few items of clothing that they enjoy and for which they go out of their way to find more.

And, you know, women never do that. The lady friend I went shopping with yesterday who wanted simply to purchase a few of the same style of Toms shoes she’s been wearing for years must be confused about her gender, and I must be similarly unhinged since I felt that this shopping trip was a pleasurable social occasion. Or, like you said, Amanda, perhaps consumption behaviors actually aren’t all that specific to gender, and journalists need to quit giving credence to this kind of silly, baseless gawking.