So I'm a guy. I have a wardrobe full of blue flannel shirts and I like to kick footballs a lot. I like Motocross and beer, and have several "questionable" bikini calendars hanging in my shed. My chest hair is more overgrown than a thicket, and I reek of Brut 33.
My wife on the other hand wears pearl earrings and a cashmere sweater while baking cookies in the kitchen. I know for a fact she smiles from ear to ear while she hand-washes my smalls; and she takes posies of violets and baskets of muffins to meet with our neighbors. She smells of pressed powder, hairspray and Chanel No.5.
Pink is for girls, and blue is for boys. Or so they might once have had us believe.
Such antiquated modes of thinking and brutal stereotypes have fortunately (for the main part at least) been put behind us - our social and moral consciousness has evolved enormously as compared to our awareness only 25 years ago.
Men are now nurses and caretakers of children, and women are pilots and engineers. Our dreams and aspirations are infinitely diverse, so we now seem to be striking a balance in our lives where gender plays a more peripheral role in our professions, relationships and interests.
So why then, would we support and observe the classification of perfume by gender? In the vast history of perfume that has spanned the millennia, “men's fragrances” and “women's fragrances” as a concept is a relatively recent one.
The late 19th century saw a shift in perfume production from single-flower essences to blended formulas, which began to target consumers based on their sex - but for centuries prior to this, fragrance was gender-neutral.
Let me ask you … what is the smell of a man? Or of a woman? Are we doomed to reek forever of the sexual division of labor - he as woodchopper, leatherworker and spice merchant, and she of a food gatherer and nurturing mother?
If we can remove social conditioning and the division of labor from the equation for a minute, then is the scent of a forest a male smell or a female one? Or rain on asphalt? And what about freshly baked bread? Or even a rose for that matter!
In today's market, “unisex” fragrances tend to represent the closest return to traditional values as they have mass appeal, irrespective of gender. But for the perfume aficionado, he or she is doing him/herself a gross injustice by not exploring scents marketed to the opposite sex.
For starters, you're reducing your chances of finding your fine fragrance “Holy Grail” by half! My challenge to you is to take a deep breath, ignore the funny looks, and truly explore the other side of your local perfume store.
Fragrance is something to be appreciated - not for the gender suggested on the bottle or box - but for the fragrance itself.