I’m going to go waaaaaay out on a limb here, knowing that I am going to get into deep trouble with a ton of “woke” folks who have risen up to defend the new labeling of “Mister and Missus Potato Head,” but I’m willing to take the chance.
To start it all off, something happened this week, that made me feel special, and then weirdly out of touch, with one of my most intimate daily actions. I found out that there is a product called, “Dude Wipes.”
So, yeah…maybe the Gen-Xers and Millennials know all about this product. But, I just had my first “Dude Wipe” experience…the very same week that I had my first pedicure, and I have to say, it has done nothing to lessen my anger at the overstepping that has happened with the whole “Mr/Mrs Potato Head” brouhaha…even though I feel slightly enlightened for both experiences.
It is weird being “on the other side,” of an issue from my regular “Lefty Peeps.” While the Fox News and “Old School Gender Warriors” were ignoring the rise in Covid cases and death count, another handful of mass shootings, and virtually anything else that mattered, to be able to spend their time getting upset about Dr. Seuss and The Potato Heads, I found myself doing a, “Yeah, but…” around the same time my butt was having its first “Gender Centric” wipe.
I know. This whole thing is confusing. Let me try and make myself clear.
I get it. I really do. Mostly.
We don’t really have a choice as to how we are born…but we do have a choice as to how we perform sexually. I get that the entire rainbow of gender is adding loads of new colors and shades almost everyday. And, I support that there is an inherent bias that most traditional cultures have shown about labeling these gender roles.
I was fine with gender neutral. I’m even fine with gender fluid. I actually think that most of us have all sorts of bits and pieces of both genders rolled into our individual make-ups. But, it is getting very, very, very challenging to keep up. Especially when those who come up with products, and branding, and targeted audience statistics, seem to keep muddying the water, with gender specific products that don’t really need to be gender specific.
Like Dude Wipes.
*Warning* This next segment may make a few of you squeamish. Sorry about that. You can skip down to the Mr. Potato Head part, if you want.
Still reading? Fine. I warned you.
When I was 12, my Dad gave me “the talk.” No…not that talk (that didn’t happen until I was almost 18). For this talk, he took me aside to tell me that I was leaving too many “racing stripes” in my tidy-whities, and needed to start wiping twice. He told me that he had been doing this since he was about my age, which made it seem normal. From that point on, I proudly did the “double wipe,” until my late fifties, when I found myself not being satisfied with my state of backside cleanliness. A lot of sitting, then a lot of walking (A.K.A. golfing), combined with loads of “dry fit” clothing kept my body cool in all of my parts except the deep, back, nether regions.
I thought about a bidet. I thought about a bidet for about as long as it took me to say, “bidet.” Nope. “Not going European, if I’m “doin’ more than peein’.” (sorry, Dad joke).
Then, while visiting one of my young grandkids, it occurred to me that Baby Wipes would be a great solution for removing any minor residue. That plan was diverted when I was informed by my very woke/enlightened daughters, that the ones I bought at Walmart, were not “ecologically friendly,” and that I would have to toss them in the garbage, and not the toilet, because they were clogging up the sewer systems. This was reinforced with a bit of a “Goog” and reading countless stories of hapless sewage workers who were tasked with removing said wipes from the huge sewer lines. ( I will spare you from the graphic pictures)
So, I decided to go “flushable,” in an effort to do my part for the planet, while not being totally convinced that there was a difference. But, something was missing. I didn’t feel “Manly” while wiping my man-size butt with a flushable baby wipe.
Enter…the Dude Wipe.
Almost the same price as regular wipes, the black packaging and bold lettering made me feel like I was doing something manly, even while feeling weird about trying to establish what part of this action was actual “Dude-worthy.”
Yes…I succumbed to the fact that they were about the same price, especially when ordered from Amazon, so I didn’t have to endure the critical eye of the cashier at the grocery store. But, I also felt like a shill for some smarmy marketing guys in Chicago…which is where DudeProducts.com started.
Go to their site. It is hilarious. And kinda creepy. They have done a pretty good job of re-branding a bunch of relatively generic products, and changing them just enough to make them “Dude-Worthy.”
And yes…they even offer a Bidet. They just don’t call it a bidet.
The vibe I get, is that their target audience is a cross between the “Bro-Dude ski-bum/mountain bike sector” and the crud-buckets that stormed the Capital on January 6th. They work REALLY hard to make it look like their products are “AMERICAN STRONG,” but the fact is, “Assembled in America” means the parts are manufactured in China, and then put together here…with minimum wage labor. U.S.A. – U.S.A.!!!!
And when you look at all of the warnings, and strange chemicals…your backside starts to pucker!
I could write a thousand words more on the topic of needlessly labeled “Man Products,” that are virtually the same as the “gender neutral” versions, but someone already did it for me. CLICK HERE for 115 Pointlessly Gendered Products That We Can’t Believe Exist.
However…I’m going to guess that since this article was written (three years ago), a load of these have suffered the same fate as Mr/Mrs Potato Head.
Let’s Get This Straight (so to speak)…Mr. Potato Head is NOT Gender Fluid.
There. I’ve said it. So brand me as being “un-woke.”
I get it. The manufacturers of said MMPH made the decision on their own. They swore they were not pressured into making the name change, and were only getting ahead of a trend toward gender neutral toys.
Come on. Ken and Barbie have been genderless forever! I know. As a father of five daughters, at various times, my house was FULL of Barbies, Kens, Midges, Skippers and loads and loads of Cabbage Patch dolls with no “identifiable happy parts.” We accepted it. Nobody was scarred. It just wasn’t important.
Now, it seems that we are worried that picking up a formless, genderless, blob of brown plastic, with holes in it (none in the gender identity area), is scarring kids if they put the mustache and bowler hat on one, and the dress and hair bow on the other. Does anyone give a rip if a 7-year old kid gets “confused” and puts the bow on the potato with a mustache? No. I don’t think so. Does the bow make whatever potato blob you started with suddenly female? Or could you use it as a bow tie?
My real concern, is the that children ARE being traumatized by gender identity…at far too young an age. There are too many stories of kids “deciding” that they are a different gender, or not any gender, or not the one they think they are, because it’s “OK to be anything you need to be!” When was the last time you actually talked to a 12 or 13 year-old? Kids at that age can’t decide what they want for breakfast, let alone how they want to spend the rest of their lives…and especially not after their parents have agreed to surgery that makes that “choice” permanent.
Don’t kids have enough to worry about these days without the added fear that the toys they play with no longer represent the FREEDOM TO BE CREATIVE? Gender isn’t a game. It isn’t a whim. It isn’t something that can be flipped like a light switch, because you choose to use “Dude Wipes” instead of “Feminine Wipes.” And taking away the pronouns on a box of plastic, non-gender parts, isn’t going to save anyone from the trauma of deciding that they were “born in the wrong body.”
Wipes are wipes by any other name. Just like people.
A few less labels, and a heck of a lot more understanding and compassion for what makes us the same is a far better choice. Let Mr and Mrs Potato Head have their family. You can decide which wipe you use to clean them up.
PS…my “virgin experience” of my first pedicure ever…was fantastic! It WILL become a regular part of my monthly routine. To afford it, I’ll just cut out the “Dude-Branded” toiletries, and go with generics from Walmart.