UncommonGoods means well; doesn't get it

I wrote an e-mail to UncommonGoods, telling them that I love their store -- particularly the recycled and artisan items from around the world, but that I wish their "weddings" section also reflected diversity by offering items meant for same-sex couples.

I received a very nice, prompt e-mail from Meya Affotey, explaining that many of their wedding items are, in fact, appropriate for same-sex couples. She gave example of how the Bride/Groom pillowcases can be ordered in sets of two men or two women.

Wait, what? The description of these pillowcases reads: "Claim your side of the bed with this matching pillowcase set. The stick figures of a bouquet-holding bride and a bow-tied groom will keep him from dozing – or drooling – on your pillow..."

Clearly, this doesn't work when one receives a gift of two identical "bride" pillowcases. This doesn't exactly indicate whose side of the bed is whose, now does it? While the pillowcases can in fact be purchased in this manner, it's pretty pointless to do so. If they offered personalization options in terms of hair style, body type, skin tone, accessories, etc. (like cake toppers and other figurines tend to) this could potentially be an appropriate gift for a same-sex couple, but the way they're selling it, it would be an ironic gift at best. She suggested a similar gift, a set of "Mr." and "Mrs." towels with similar images and a similar description regarding how the towels show whose is whose. Again, doesn't work. Also, "Mr." and "Mrs." are rarely used by same-sex couples, and are even offensive to many.

She also gave the example of the man/woman keyrings, which can be ordered in sets of two men or two women: "the ever-recognizable man and woman silhouettes keep key confusion from becoming a battle of the sexes." Not in our household, they wouldn't. Again, pointless.

In addition to the man/woman "sets," they also sell a few wedding gifts that absolutely only work for different-sex couples, such as prints of male/female imagery. There are also a few neutral wedding gifts such as candlesticks and wine glasses without wedding-specific imagery.

I sent back another e-mail, quoting from the descriptions of the items and pointing out how the descriptions clearly show that the items are meant for different-sex couples and really don't work for same-sex couples. I gave suggestions of items available elsewhere, such as candelabras with man/man and woman/woman imagery (together on one candelabra) and various rainbow-themed wedding items, and suggested they might want to add items such as these. I also suggested that they could ask the artists who make the prints of man/woman pairings to make same-sex versions. I explained that a true commitment to diversity would involve items that were specifically chosen with same-sex couples in mind, not different-sex items that a customer was "allowed" to construe to sort-of work for their family. I explained that this would most likely require that there were items in the catalog that would not be applicable to most different-sex couples, just like how there are plenty of items in there that really only apply to one religious or ethnic group.

The next reply I received didn't have any new text in it; just the quoted text of my e-mails and the one reply from them. I wrote back and asked if they had intended to add anything, and got yet another reply without any new text.

Hmm, did I break the place?


Jodie said...

D'OH. You broke them!

Maybe they're using crappy "stationary" that isn't getting displayed correctly?

eeka said...

It seems to be all plaintext, but yeah, it's going through some protocol where the subject line has a number in it and all that crap.

Anonymous said...

We have identical pillowcases that say "mrs." and "mrs." (or is it "hers" and "hers"?) They were a wedding gift and we love them, even though they don't tell you whose side is whose. They are just cute.

I don't see the big deal.