Over 70% of Women believe there is a social stigma related to the consumption of marijuana. Whether it be personal or social perceptions that make up these stigmas, women do not feel as comfortable as men about cannabis consumption. From worrying about being looked at as a bad mom, a stoner or a hippie, or even lazy— women are much more likely to stay away from cannabis or keep their consumption secret. In a male-driven industry, from its overtly sexualized advertising to its numerous pop-culture icons, women are excluded from an industry where they hold most of the purchasing power.
So how can the gender gap be closed?
To close the gender gap between male and female consumption more information is needed. Women need access to educational resources, such as the scientific background of marijuana along with its medicinal benefits related specifically to women. Many women are not knowledgeable about the benefits of cannabis when products are marketed toward general ailments and relaxation. Products advertised this way can be aimed at anyone. Knowing men make up a majority of cannabis consumers, including the specific medicinal benefits that cannabis can bring particularly to women would entice more female consumers and bridge the knowledge gap. THC, the active compound in marijuana has been proven to reduce women’s pain associated with menstrual cramps, menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome, anxiety, stress, and many others.
Is pop-culture a problem?
Another reason why women feel the need to stay in the “green closet” is due to the fact that marijuana is marketed more toward men and in a way that over dramatizes the stereotypical beliefs of what marijuanas effects are. In pop-culture, references are typically made with male characters. For example, the cult classic, Up in Smoke. The two main characters, Cheech and Chong, are men who depict marijuana as a hippie drug in a series of “stoner films”. In fact, most films with cannabis use are male-driven. It is shown as a male activity in these films as well as glamorized by celebrity icons such as Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and Bob Marley. It is easier for men to relate to men, then for women to relate to men. With few female icons publicly showing their cannabis consumption it is hard for females to have someone to look up to.
Does sex really sell?
Just as the saying, “sex sells”, has held the same meaning for years, the sexualiztion of women in the cannabis industry has had a negative impact on female consumers. From advertisements to product logos, even the promotion of how marijuana helps womens sex lives, the information is directly targeted toward women’s sex appeal. In an industry that needs to market more toward women, why is using women to sell it, helpful? Today, social injustices are being hit head on, using sex to sell cannabis isn’t helpful. In a survey done for thematters.group, Only 18% of men and 11% of women answered that they’d find a brand that uses sexy imagery “Extremely appealing.” In today’s day and age, to help close the inequalities surrounding cannabis, using sex appeal to market is simply discriminating against a large portion of potential consumers.
The above factors can account for data that shows that 53% of males consume cannabis compared to 43% of females . Moving forward, gender inequality still exists in general society, females are being overlooked in a growing market, when they are one of the largest portions of cannabis consumers. While they tend to consume less, women are interested in other approaches to medicating than the traditional pills and alternatives to relaxing. Providing more information and opportunities for women to feel more empowered about their cannabis consumption can help close the gender gap and be more beneficial to consumers and business owners.
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Special thanks to guest blogger, Angela Cataldo, GVSU Class of 2020