~ Posted by Simon Willis, November 30th 2012

There's a race going on at Back in August, the pen manufacturer Bic released the "Bic for her", a lightweight pen featuring a comfy rubber grip, available in boxes of 12. You can have it any colour you like—as long as it's pink or purple. So far, this Bic pen has received a remarkable 516 customer reviews. It's definitely a Marmite topic. Running neck-and-neck are the one-star and five-star reviews. Two days ago, someone called C.H:SPAIN left the 193rd five-star review, entitled "PINK!!!!!". That puts the five-stars just a single vote behind the one-stars.

What a difference a pen makes. For Happyshopper it saved her from a "genderless limbo". "My sense of womanhood," she writes, "was deeply impacted by the lack of gender-defined stationery."

Melissa Cohen-fyffe sleeps better at night with her new Bic beside her: "My dreams are happier. It's like they're dotted with little hearts."

According to PurpleProse, this delicate pen has even done its bit for democracy:
"What is the point of being allowed to vote, when ordinary pens have been just far too uncomfortable and downright heavy, to grasp in our teeny tiny, porcelain hands?"

At the other end of the spectrum, joy gives way to disappointment. Here is Mr J. Stevens:

Imagine then the situation I found myself in when, upon taking delivery of another shipment of motorbike parts and footballs, I reached for and grasped not my normal Bic pen, but a "Bic for Her Amber Medium Ballpoint Pen"...I knew something was wrong when I had to physically restrain my hands, gnarled and worn from a lifetime of rock-climbing and shark wrestling, from crushing the fragile implement like a Faberge egg. Things only went downhill from there.

Daveyclayton knows the feeling. "It is no good," he writes. "It slips from between my calloused, gnarly fingers like a gossamer thread gently descending to earth between two giant redwood trunks."

Even in man-hands, the "Bic for her" brings out the inner poet. Whether the five-star reviews can claw back the lead remains to be seen. But one thing's for sure: never has so much ink been spilt over one pen.

Simon Willis is apps editor of Intelligent Life. His recent posts for the Editors' Blog include David Lynch's 96 moments and The drone war on Instagram