September 8, 2010

On The Other Hand, The Company IS Called Amazon

amazons_heracles.jpg

The shocking transgression of gender roles has been central to Amazons' identity for thousands of years. And while much attention has been paid to the Amazon as warrior--the Iliad description, amazones antianeirai means "those who fight like men"--historians have been just as obsessed with Amazons' atypical sexuality and reproductive practices.

The Turkish historian Strabo claimed that Amazons would perpetuate their race by visiting a neighboring tribe, the Gargarians, once a year to mate, outside, like animals. Then they would take only the girls. The male offspring would be abandoned, either left to die in the forest or left with their fathers.

amazons_daulaire.jpg

Others accounts had the Amazons keeping a stable of male sex slaves, who were brought out to mate once a year. Even more shocking was the story told by Diodorus, a Greek writer who was a key source for the D'Aulaires' amusingly desexualized children's book of Greek mythology. According to Diodorus, the Amazons were married, and their househusbands would stay home and tend the kids and do the chores while the women went off to fight.

amazon_relic_hunter.jpg
WWE performer Chyna guest-starring as Queen of the Amazons--and getting her ass kicked by Tia Carrere--on Relic Hunter

One thing these claims all have in common, of course, is that they come from outsiders. Remarkably, we haven't had an account of Amazon gender roles and family life from actual Amazons. Until now. And guess what, it turns out to be the same retrograde marketing-driven bullshit as every other corporate tribe.

amazon_mom.jpg

From the front page of the just-announced Amazon Mom, a program for parents of newborns and toddlers which offers discounted diaper subscriptions and other "product recommendations tailored to your family's needs":

Who is this program for, and do I qualify?

• Amazon Mom is a free membership program aimed at helping parents and caregivers, from the prenatal days through the toddler years, use Amazon to find all the products their family needs. To join, simply sign into your Amazon account and tell us whether you are a Mom, Dad, or other caregiver of a child. By providing some optional information about your family, you can help us personalize offers, e-mails, and product recommendations to help you find exactly what you need at just the right time.

I am a Dad (or Grandma, or Aunt) - am I eligible?

• Yes. Despite the name, Amazon Mom is open to anyone who is responsible for caring for a baby or young child--"Amazon Primary Caregiver" just didn't have the same ring to it. Kidding aside, we chose this name because we noticed moms in social communities (like our Amazon discussion boards) looking to connect and share information about products and problems with other moms. We wanted a name that would let these groups know that this program was created with their unique needs in mind.

I was going to start adding italics to the WTF? parts, but then, the whole thing is just one giant, W. T. F.?!!

Where to even start? "Despite the name"? "created with their [sic] unique [sic] needs in mind"? If it's "tailored to your family's needs," why not call it Amazon Family? Or Amazon Parent? If 85% of the customers turn out to be white, would they call it Amazon White People and just figure the other 15% will suck it up and sign on?

Or does this all mean that moms--who, look, I am neither blind, stupid, nor ideological about this, make up the significant majority of the pregnancy- and baby-related market--does this mean that moms will respond less to gender-inclusive or gender-neutral marketing pitches? Does this mean "the problem" all these years isn't marketers, but moms?

amazons_xena.jpg

These are not academic questions. I really want to know. Because Amazon Mom is aimed squarely at the Daddy Types demographic, and unless they change the name, I don't think there's a chance in hell I will promote it on my site. And yet, kickbacks from Amazon links are a major source of DT's revenue. And the topselling product by far is diapers. Seriously, go buy some diapers and wipes at Normal Amazon right now; it's so competitively priced and convenient.

So what to do? [thanks, the many, many dt readers who sent this in]

9 Comments

I'll let you know their response to my obligatory, self-important, huffy complaint to customer service. I bet it becomes Amazon Family by next Monday.

Hear, hear! I hope they fix this, soon. I really like Amazon, which made this even more annoying, because I expect better from them!

I'm sure the good people at Amazon could come up with a less objectionable name, but I'm willing to let it go in exchange for diapers that magically appear on my doorstep for 30% less money than what I pay at the local store.

Amazon Baby. That's all it needs to be.

On a side note, when my dear wife and I were discussing my outrage at this, I decided that Amazon should send out onesies w/ the amazon baby logo to members. What an advertising feat that could be.

I'll just get my wife to register on my behalf. I'll just consider this payback for a thousand years of similar behavior in the other direction.

It turns out Amazon didn't drop the ball with dads on the Amazon Mom service, they are just being more realistic...
http://www.fatherfolk.com/2010/09/announcing-amazon-dad.html

I told Amazon that they can go ahead and give the Moms a deal on diapers, but I'll think twice about where I choose to buy my next DSLR or $1,000 lens.

Thats alotta diapers that will now go to Adorama, B&H, J&R, etc.

... and here's Amazon's very prompt response. It pretty much speaks for itself --

-----------------
Hello,

I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.

I'm forwarding your feedback about Amazon Mom menbership to our shipping department--I know they'll want to hear about your experience.

I've passed your message on to the appropriate department in our company for consideration. I'll make sure the appropriate people in our company see your message. We value this kind of feedback, as it helps us continue to improve our store and provide better service to our customers.

We hope to see you again soon.

Thank you for your recent inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here: (link removed)

If no, please click here: (link removed)

Best regards,

Santhosh J.
Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.
--------------------------

I guess the shipping department will now know how frustrated I am about the "mom menbership."

So, did Santosh solve your problem?

I just wrote a post about it here, but your one is better, I have to admit.

It's strange to me that not everyone gets my (and your) outrage, but I guess it's also strange to me that people listen to Dave Matthews Band and think they're cool. What can you do...

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