Book-buying. For the gals.

April 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

If there is one aspect of life which greets women with the proverbial rolled-out red carpet, it’s capitalism. (Wait, isn’t capitalism the only aspect of life? Right.) Consider this article that appeared in yesterday’s (Sunday edition) of The Star. MPH Bookstores Malaysia is introducing a women’s only concept store at The Curve shopping mall in Petaling Jaya. It is, as the title of the article says, “for the gals.”

Why are gals so important? “Women shoppers are more affluent these days and have a greater say in purchase decisions. They are also more inclined to spend on themselves, both single women and those with family,”

Right. While men, always the default sex, are hanging out in regular bookstores, buying books for themselves – women are buying books for themselves, their kids, their grandmothers, their dogs, and their grandmothers’ dogs. Hence – a special store where women can feel at home and spend, spend, spend! I squeal in excitement.

Some brilliant ideas on what makes a bookstore more womanly (or gal-like, rather):

  • A cafe called “EspresSOUP, a little corner where you can get a cup of coffee to go with soup, salad and sandwiches” because god forbid that a woman wants to eat an actual meal.
  • “There will be everything from women-centric business and management books and autobiographies on prominent female leaders to chick-lit and cookbooks.” Because men don’t cook, don’t need help on management, and could not care less about prominent female leaders?
  • “Something else women customers will appreciate is the members’ card called Gals Reads – “Reads” stands for Respected, Empowered, Admired, Desired and Smart – that allows holders to accumulate discount points and get exclusive invitations to events and be used in MPH stores nationwide. The card’s RM20 membership will be donated entirely to the Women’s Aid Organisation.” Okay, giving monetary proceeds to WAO is good. But the READS acronym is just juvenile at best. Which is what it’s all about, isn’t it, constantly displaying womanhood as this little girls’ club in which we can sit around on red chaise longues and giggle and be respected, empowered, admired, desired, and smart. And plan our weddings.
  • Participating store partners include: “The Wedding Boutique for gown rental, Jurlique for facial treatments, My Diamond for jewellery, Urban Retreat for spa treatments and Espressoup for dining treats.” Yup, they’ve got womanhood covered in a nutshell. A nice, clear-complexioned face, a marriage, nice jewels, and spa treatments to relax those frown-lines away. Also, some soup in case you get hungry (but not too hungry!).

Domestic bliss: a gal's best friend

I am tired of mass-consumerism dressed as gender-friendly ‘consideration’. Also, which woman isn’t tired of the reductivist ‘woman-friendly’ label that comprises, in essence, fashion, frou-frou, weddings, jewels, and spa treatments? And the need to somehow sequester women away in a private haven of reading, where they can simultaneously browse “chick-lit” (how did it become legitimate to refer to women as baby fowl in general discourse?) and read “autobiographies on prominent female leaders.” Why can’t those books be sold in regular bookshops, to all customers, as regular books that might appeal to any reader – male or female?

It’s a bookstore, for crying out loud. It sells books. Men and women can read them together – and damn well purchase them together.


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