Blaise Tapp column: The 21st Century issue of tissues

Image by � Tim Pannell/Corbis
Image by � Tim Pannell/Corbis
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When historians of the future look back on the middle week of October 2018 it is likely that they will scratch their heads and ask ‘is that all they had to worry about?’

Last week was one which saw the end both of Kleenex’s mansize tissues and Waitrose’s ‘Gentleman’s’ sandwich, following complaints from consumers that these products were sexist.

The sandwich is an easy one to deal with – I had never heard of it before the controversy and I imagine that not many people had either. I would also suggest that the butty in question sounded pretty unappetising, begging the question ‘what do gentleman put between two slices of bread?’ I will pass if you don’t mind and it sounds like whoever complained not only had too much time on their hands but did everybody’s favourite upmarket supermarket a big favour.

The issue of tissues was less straightforward, given that millions of people, not just blokes, have been blowing their hooters on the mansize variety for 62 years.

That is an awful lot of nasal history which is, ahem, not to be sniffed at. However, the times they are a-changing and it looks like the game is up for male-specific products, giving manufacturers and companies a perfect marketing opportunity.

Kleenex’s parent company’s spokesperson kept a straight face when they said: “Kimberly-Clark in no way suggests that being both soft and strong is an exclusively masculine trait” and went on to confirm that the newly branded extra large tissues will be landing on shelves in the not so distant future.

Let’s be honest, is there any self respecting bloke out there who gives two hoots about what he blows his nose on?

Me? I usually pinch Mrs Tapp’s endless supply of balsam-infused tissues, largely because I haven’t paid for them. Failing that there is always toilet roll and, if I am really stuck, those blue paper hand towels you find in all good public loos do the job.

I doubt whether the name change will have any real impact on sales of the product but it has been seen as a victory by those offended by lazy gender stereotyping in retail and marketing.

But this wasn’t the biggest storm in a teacup of the week, as that honour fell to the ‘story’ created by Piers Morgan, Britain’s biggest wind up merchant. The Good Morning Britain presenter started a national debate about whether or not dads should carry their babies in papooses, when he tweeted a picture of James Bond actor Daniel with his young child strapped to his chest.

It was the use of the hashtag #emasculatedBond which kicked off this issue, with many irate ‘modern dads’ asking Morgan, who is unrivaled when it comes to firing up debate, why he felt the need to question the masculinity of others.

My papoose wearing days are long gone but it was convenient while it lasted, even if I did look John Hurt in Alien, moments after the creature burst from his chest.

If us blokes are being honest, we also quite like the attention that having an adorable tiny human being hung around our shoulders brings.

It was the only time in 20 years that other women have smiled in my general direction, even though I am almost certain they weren’t smiling at me.

Like the aforementioned tissues and sandwich, this is a 21st century issue which really shouldn’t be keeping me up at night.