You have probably heard the feminist slogan, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." (It has been mistakenly attributed to Gloria Steinem, but actually originated with Irina Dunn.) I had not given it much thought before, but it came to mind unexpectedly as I was staring at a cracker box in my cabinet:
What do you know? A fish on a bicycle. What could it mean?
Is Pepperidge Farm making a hidden misogynist statement? Is it saying that women really do need men, since fish (or, at least, Goldfish) need bicycles?
I keep trying to imagine the conversations of the marketing team:
"The fish . . . he's just not active enough. I mean, he's just sitting there. What does that make you think of?"
"Umm . . . sitting?"
"Right! Just sitting there, like the kids will be sitting there, on their duffs, watching Power Rangers and stuffing their faces. We can't let the Mom see that. We need something that says active and fun. Now, what can we have this fish doing?
"Ummmm . . . swimming?"
"No, no, no . . . swimming looks too much like doing nothing. Something suburban . . ."
"Right. Next you'll say we need to give him a black t-shirt and lip-ring. Think six-year-old, not sixteen-year-old."
"Hrmmm . . . kinda tough to kick a ball with fins."
"No, really, he could slap the soccer ball into the goal with his tail."
"Ok, have the animation guys see if they can do something with that for the commercial spot. But that's still not going to work for the box. We need something active but not too complicated."
"Right. A fish doing something but not really doing something. I mean – wait. I got it. I'm brilliant."
"A fish . . . on a bicycle."
"Yeah. He's just sitting there, so he doesn't have to do anything, but he's, you know, doing something."
"Ok. . . Bicycle it is."
"Oh, and don't forget the helmet. Gotta look safe and responsible."