Virgin Frequent Flyer Program Called Out For Reductive Gender Stereotyping

In today’s installment of Icky Gender Stereotyping: Big Brands Edition, Virgin airlines’ Velocity Frequent Flyer program has inspired a scathing Faceboook take down by a customer who was less than psyched about the ‘For Him’ and ‘For Her’ purchase suggestions for redeeming frequent flyer points.

In a Facebook post, Velocity customer Alenka Henry illustrates why gender neutral gift ideas are the only way to go if you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a wildly sarcastic and totally right on public rant.

According to Alenka, the “For Her” Christmas gift suggestions on which to redeem points included a vacuum cleaner and a blender. Now, truth be told, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a Dyson vacuum cleaner if you offered me one, because anything that ups the ease of removing accumulated specks of general filth has a place in my heart that will be forever loyal; but who in their right mind – regardless of sex – wants a cleaning appliance as their special holiday bounty? It’s just a terrible gift suggestion, for starters.

The issue that Velocity’s curator of gift suggestions seems to have overlooked is that, after aeons of being relegated to domestic duties because we’re [assign archaic female stereotype of your choosing here – weaker/fairer/etc], ladies are particularly sensitive about even the most subtle reference to the room which starts with the letter ‘k’. The vaguest suggestion that it is a household space where we might have a particularly strong presence is a behind-the-back blow to the suffrage movement we hold dear. Ditto implications of cleaning products.

Meanwhile the man-friendly gift suggestions are headphones and cameras,
because men are tech-savvy, enjoy leisure time and need headphones to cancel out the sound of all that vacuuming cleaning they aren’t doing. Only kidding, guys! Only kidding. Just trying to make a point.

Here is Ms Henry’s letter:

Hi Velocity!

Today I opened my Velocity points summary/redeem email to see a list of suggested Xmas presents entitled For Him and For Her, and now I’m really stressed out. “For Him” were things like headphones and cameras. The headline item pictured was a Kindle. “For Her” had a vacuum and the headline item pictured was a blender.

Are. You. For. Real?

No, really. Are you serious? I’m worried, because I’m writing this on my iPad and I was wondering if I’m allowed. If not, let me know and I’ll give it to my brother. I don’t have a boyfriend, because I’m gay, but if it’s really important I’ll get one so he can have my noise-cancelling headphones. Also, do I have to stop using the bluetooth phone link in my car?

Please let me know as soon as possible so that I may get my Xmas arrangements underway. I’m looking into a course on how to blend various fruit drinks, because I’m clearly not stepping up as a “Her”.


Velocity actually validated Alenka’s complaint by retracting the email, also admitting that as gifts go vacuum cleaners are the lamest.