Lady Doritos, Political Correctness and Feminism

Yash Chitrakar

There was an almost unanimous and obvious backlash, especially from the denizens of the internet, when the female CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, talked about how women don’t like to eat chips loudly and that the company was researching to create non-crunchy Doritos.

“Women I think would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public,” Nooyi said. “And, you know, they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little, broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”

There are a large number of people who say that this is exactly the kind of product that reinforces negative stereotypes about women. That they are dainty and lady-like. However, a smaller group is crying overreach of political correctness.

Their argument is that Nooyi was just stating the facts and that if the chips were just dubbed “Silent Doritos” as opposed to the internet-named “Lady Doritos,” no one would have a problem. But that is exactly the problem. Words do have the power to shape thought and behavior and reveal underlying conceptions of things. And feminist ideals, which this case involves, has to do a lot with PC culture.

Yes, politically correct language can just act as a façade, hiding deeper social truths, serving as euphemisms and fueling one’s self-righteousness. After all, it is the intent that matters, right? However, the problem with this case is that the thought that fuels the intent itself is detrimental.

The statement by Nooyi reveals the exact kind of social stigma that women face. People may lambast Nooyi for the statement, and rightfully so, but what they are right to be angry about is the stigma that women need such products.

It is okay for companies to cater to a demographic they deem important to their success, but how they view and think of their demographic is also crucial. It is not only women who don’t want to exhibit their so-called obscene crunching. All people, in quiet contexts such as that of a library or a classroom even, want their consuming to be less conspicuous. And the only reason women want to present themselves as the quieter of the sexes – although that mindset seems to be waning – is because society imposes such biases on them. 

The primary goal of feminism is to elevate women to an equal status as men by vanquishing any stigma or stereotype that society attributes to them. And while the face of feminism has been somewhat tarnished by the heavy commercialization and misinterpretation, the fact that people got angry at Nooyi’s statement shows a glimpse of progress.